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WARP is a high speed, fully conformant software rasterizer. It is a component of the DirectX graphics technology that was introduced by the Direct3D 11 runtime.
WARP simplifies development by removing the need to build a custom software rasterizer and to tune your application for it instead of tuning your application for hardware. By providing a single, general purpose software rasterizer, you no longer need to write image rendering algorithms in multiple ways to run on hardware or software with different features and capabilities.
You can still implement algorithms in multiple ways to achieve better performance or scaling; however, you do not need to change the API or rendering architecture that is used to implement those algorithms. Instead, you can focus on creating a great Direct3D 10 or later application that will look the same and perform well on hardware or in software.
When an application is tuned to run efficiently on hardware, it will run efficiently on WARP as well. The converse is also true; any application that is tuned to run well on WARP will perform well on hardware. Applications that use Direct3D 10 and later inefficiently might not scale efficiently on different hardware. WARP has similar performance profiles to hardware, so tuning an application for large batches, minimizing state changes, removing synchronizing points or locks will benefit both hardware and WARP.
WARP allows fast rendering in a variety of situations where hardware implementations are undesirable or unavailable, including:. There is a huge community, many books, Web sites, SDKs, samples, white papers, mailing lists and other resources that can help you take advantage of Direct3D 10 and later shader-based image rendering.
With WARP as a software fallback, you can use existing knowledge about hardware to improve the performance of your application when it runs with hardware or software. In addition, many excellent tools from the graphics card vendors and in the DirectX SDK can help you design, build, develop, debug and analyze performance issues of graphics applications. These tools and knowledge can now benefit application development that targets both hardware and software when you use WARP.
Various algorithms and applications image processing algorithms, printing, remoting, Virtual PCs and other emulators, high quality font rendering, charts, graphs, and so on have typically been optimized for the CPU because they are not dependent on hardware.
With WARP, you can use a single architecture that runs these algorithms and applications and that can run fully in software; yet, if hardware acceleration is available, you can take advantage of it. WARP allows you to access all Direct3D 10 and later graphics features even on computers without Direct3D 10 and later graphics hardware.
Direct3D 10 removed capability bits caps ; that is, you no longer need to verify whether graphics capabilities are available from graphics hardware because Direct3D 10 and later guarantees this availability. You can now use all the features of a wide range of video cards knowing that their application will behave and look the same everywhere.
You can scale the performance of these applications by simply disabling expensive graphics features on low end video cards or rendering to smaller targets. For example, WARP supports the following most important features:.
This version supports Direct3D Direct3D 10, When you specify this driver type, the runtime creates a WARP device and does not initialize a hardware device. Next, when you switch to ref, you will see WARP rendering. This includes the following types of applications:. Games typically have simple rendering requirements. However, they also require the use of impressive visual effects that might need hardware acceleration.
The majority of the best selling game titles for Windows are either simulations or casual games, neither of which requires high performance graphics. However, both styles of games greatly benefit from modern shader-based graphics and the ability to scale on hardware. A large amount of graphical applications require a minimal number of code paths in their rendering layer. WARP enables these applications to implement a single Direct3D code path that can target a large number of computer configurations.
Game developers might want to isolate graphics-card or driver-specific rendering errors. Therefore, all games, even extremely graphically demanding games, can benefit from being able to render their content by using WARP. You can use WARP to validate whether any visual artifacts that you find are rendering errors or problems with hardware or drivers.
These target applications include applications that must always work on all computers, image processing applications that do not write CPU and GPU versions of image processing algorithms, image processing algorithms where speed or use the GPU is not critical, such as printing, and emulators and virtual environments that display advanced 3D graphics.
WARP is based on the reference rasterizer codebase. Two versions of WARP are installed on 64 bit machines, an x86 and x64 version. The x64 version might run faster in certain circumstances because the code generator contained in WARP can take advantage of the additional registers that are available when users run bit applications. WARP uses the thread pool and complex task management and dependency tracking that was introduced in Windows Vista to allow all parts of the rendering pipeline to be distributed efficiently across available CPU cores.
WARP uses deferred rendering. That is, WARP can batch rendering commands so that rasterization occurs only when sufficient data is available to use all the CPU resources efficiently. Work on the main application thread is minimized to allow the application to submit commands as quickly as possible.
If an application is also multi-threaded, and it uses the thread pool, work will be evenly distributed between WARP and the application. WARP does not require graphics hardware to execute. It can execute even in situations where hardware is not available or cannot be initialized. However, we recommend that you lower the quality settings and resolution as much as possible to achieve usable frame rates.
You can use WARP to develop and tune applications that run well on both hardware and software. Microsoft performed significant testing and performance tuning on computers with eight or more cores and SSE4. Graphics hardware also has fixed-function units that can perform complex and expensive tasks, such as texture filtering, format decompression, or conversions, asynchronously with little overhead or power cost.
Performing these operations on a typical CPU is expensive in terms of both power consumption and performance cycles. The typical performance numbers for an Intel Penryn based 3.
Low-end discrete graphics hardware is typically 4 to 5 times faster than WARP at running these benchmarks. Mid-range or high-end graphics cards are significantly faster than WARP for many applications, particularly when an application can take advantage of the parallelism and memory bandwidth that these graphics cards provide.
WARP is not a replacement for graphics hardware, particularly as reasonably performing low-end Direct3D 10 and later discrete hardware is now inexpensive. The goal of WARP is to allow applications to target Direct3D 10 level hardware without having significantly different code paths or testing requirements whether they run on hardware or in software. The first table shows WARP example data with Direct3D 10 Crysis running at x with all the quality settings on their lowest levels:.
The majority of the images appear almost identical between hardware and WARP; where small differences sometimes occur, they are found to be within the tolerances defined by the Direct3D 10 specification.