Cube Environment Mapping

cem1.gif (4155 bytes)Supported by DirectX 7 and OpenGL is yet another catchphrase feature of the GeForce 256: Cube Environment Mapping (CEM). Once again, there is no arguing that CEM is a move in the positive direction for the industry, but the GeForce isn't going to be the definitive solution with CEM support.

CEM essentially uses the six faces of a cube to project an environment map onto an object. By using these six faces you retain very little warping in the environment map and obtain a very accurate projection.

cem2.gif (10841 bytes)Currently, no games use CEM and for this product cycle (6 months), don't expect anything to be designed with it in mind. Once the next graphics product cycle comes around, you can expect some games to be designed with CEM in mind, but as a consumer buying a GeForce 256 today, you're not getting any more than the ability to look at a few cool demos with CEM support.

There is quite a bit that goes into CEM and the possibilities are endless as to what you can do with CEM. It allows for more accurate lighting and reflection effects in certain areas and is definitely, as we mentioned before, a step forward. Unfortunately the penalty for using CEM is quite large and requires a high fill rate, much greater than what the 480M Pixels/s of the GeForce 256 is capable of delivering.

Just one of many possibilities for CEM according to NVIDIA
cem3.jpg (26451 bytes)

Like hardware T&L, CEM is a good feature that the GeForce 256 supports, it won't be until the next product after the GeForce 256 (in about 6 months) that we'll see games beginning to use it more closely to its true potential.

Sound familiar?

What this is all beginning to sound like is the TNT versus Voodoo2 fiasco of not too long ago. If you remember, NVIDIA's Riva TNT supported 32-bit color rendering and AGP texturing before either of those two features was even remotely used in games. While AGP texturing may still not be a widely used feature, it was definitely supported by the TNT. NVIDIA rode on these two features for quite some time, banking on the fact that although the current crop of games didn't gain anything from 32-bit color rendering or AGP texturing, the potential was there.

This is very much like the current status of Hardware T&L and Cube Environment Mapping, both of which are not widely implemented features now, but they will be later on. This brings up the argument of whether or not you're going to be buying for the present or for the future games which we'll discuss in the conclusion.

Hardware T&L - Support AGP 4X & Fast Writes


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  • 2016boyGPU - Monday, April 04, 2016 - link

    Man i hope you still alive bro
    1999 i miss
  • DennisMiller - Tuesday, April 02, 2019 - link

    Even such a high frequency of DDR memory could not help Creative 3D Blaster Geforce 256 Annihilator Pro to get leadership in this case. Nevertheless, the overclocking of the last card led her to unquestioning leaders. As you can see, the spring-summer favorite of 1999, the NVIDIA Riva TNT2 Ultra-based card looks very modest here.

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