GPU Gems

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Will there be a GPU Gems 4? I don’t know. But I do know there will be a ShaderX^7 and, with your help, a ShaderX^8. The timeline and information about this next volume is at the ShaderX^8 site. If you’re interested in submitting, one detail (currently) missing from this site is that an example ShaderX proposal, writing guidelines, and a FAQ can be downloaded from here. The key bit: proposals are due May 17th. I’m not currently associated with this series (though I was for volumes 3 & 4), I just like to see them get good submissions.

The existence of these book series – Game Programming Gems, ShaderX, GPU Gems – is a fascinating phenomenon. Conferences like SIGGRAPH are heavy on theory and cutting-edge research, light on practical advice. Books like ours can be more applied, but are survey-oriented by their nature, not spending a lot of time on any given topic. Code samples and white papers on the web from NVIDIA, AMD/ATI, etc., and independents such as Humus, they’re great stuff, but are produced by particular groups of people with specific interests. Also, sometimes just finding relevant code samples on these sites can be a serious challenge (“search” sometimes works less well than I would like).

These book series fill the gap: they go through a review and editing process, improving quality and presentation. This in turn makes them of higher average interest to the reader, vs. a random article on the web of unknown quality. They won’t disappear if someone’s domain expires or interest wanes. They can be easily accessed years later, unlike material published in ephemeral venues such as Game Developer Magazine or GDC proceedings. The titles, at least, can be surveyed in one place by sites such as IntroGameDev (though this one appears to no longer receiving updates, unfortunately, e.g. ShaderX^6 is not listed).

The major downside of these books is that they’re only available on paper, not as searchable PDFs (except the first few ShaderX books). Well, almost the entire GPU Gems series is, wonderfully, online for free, but is still not easily searchable. Now if someone could just figure out a Steam-like system that let people buy books in electronic form while protecting publishers’ monetary interests. Hmmm, maybe eye-implanted bar-code readers that check if you have access to a given piece of digital content, that’ll be non-intrusive… Anyway, this is the challenge ahead for publishers. Maybe the Kindle is the best solution, but I like the Steam games model better, where something you’ve purchased is available on any computer attached to the Internet.

Best of all for consumers is free & digital, of course, but this does trim back the pool of authors pretty drastically, as a royalty percentage of 0% is not much of an incentive (I’ve been reading too many popularized economics books late, e.g. Naked Economics, so have been thinking more in economics-speak, like “incentives”). We wrote our book for the love of the subject, but I can’t complain about also, to my surprise, earning a bit of money (enough to allow me to, what else, upgrade my computer and graphics card on a regular basis). Enough rambling, but the subject of electronic publication is one that’s been on my mind for a few decades now. I expect a solution from you all by the end of the week, then let’s create a startup and we’ll sell out by next March and make a mint.

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More Free Books

GPU Gems 3NVIDIA’s done it again, they’re releasing GPU Gems 3 to the web. It’s being done in the installment plan, I expect so that there’s something to announce every few weeks, which is fine. Eventually the whole book will be available, so much better to have this “section a month” scheme than not at all. NVIDIA’s to be complimented on their progressive attitude. GPU Gems 3 is less than a year and a half old, so could still make a few dollars, but NVIDIA’s goal is to get the information out there.


ShaderXThis summer Wolfgang Engel and I tracked down authors of the ShaderX and ShaderX^2 books and secured releases. The ShaderX^2 books quickly found a home at gamedev.net, but Wolfgang had to dig around for the PDF for the first ShaderX book, then find a place to host it, plus the dog ate my homework, etc. Long and short, the original ShaderX book is now free for download here: http://tog.acm.org/resources/shaderx/ – I decided to host it on the ACM TOG site, as it’s a valuable resource, despite its hoary old age. Just ignore the first chunk about using 1.x shaders and enjoy the rest.

I do wish the GPU Gems books were available as PDFs (hint, hint, NVIDIA), as they would be much easier to search for those “I know I saw this in one of these books” moments.

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New stuff from NVIDIA

NVIDIA have finally finished posting all of the chapters of GPU Gems 2 online (the first GPU Gems is available as well). This is a great resource with many useful and interesting articles. NVIDIA have also been posting many of the presentations from their NVISION conference, which can be found on their news page.

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