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Shaders are small programs that runs at certain steps in a graphical pipeline. Older systems that do not support shaders are called a fixed function pipeline. The detail on how the shaders work and are setup depend on the Graphic Api one is using.

Shader Language
The language used to write a shader depends on the graphical API used.

 Name APIYear
 Metal Metal 2014  
 GLSL OpenGl 2004  
 CG  2003   2012Language by Nvidia that can target both OpenGL/DirectX.
 HLSL DirectX 2002  
 ARB assembly OpenGl 2002 YesProvided by the extension ARB_vertex_program and ARB_fragment_program. Phased out now and GLSL is the way to go.

Tessellation Control (TCS) / Hull Stage - 2009

Tessellation Evaluation (TES) / Domain Stage
- 2009

Geometry (GS) - 2008
This stage gets a whole primitive (point, line or triangle) and can then discard it emit one or more new primitives.

Fragment (FS) / Pixel (PS) - 2001
Takes interpolated data for a primitive and generates per-pixel data such as color.

Vertex (VS) - 2001
Perform operations such as transformation, skinning and per-vertex lightning. Works on a single input vertex and produce a single output vertex.

Subpages (1): Compute