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Direct3D offers full vertex software emulation but no pixel software emulation for features not available in hardware.

For example, if software programmed using Direct3D requires pixel shaders and the video card on the user's computer does not support that feature, Direct3D will not emulate it, although it will compute and render the polygons and textures of the 3D models, albeit at a usually degraded quality and performance compared to the hardware equivalent.

Direct3D uses hardware acceleration if it is available on the graphics card, allowing for hardware acceleration of the entire 3D rendering pipeline or even only partial acceleration.

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Execute buffers were intended to be allocated in hardware memory and parsed by the hardware to perform the 3D rendering.Direct X 8.0, released in November, 2000, introduced programmability in the form of vertex and pixel shaders, enabling developers to write code without worrying about superfluous hardware state.The complexity of the shader programs depended on the complexity of the task, and the display driver compiled those shaders to instructions that could be understood by the hardware.Hardware vertex buffers represent the first substantive improvement over Open GL in Direct X history.Direct3D 7.0 also augmented Direct X support for multitexturing hardware, and represents the pinnacle of fixed-function multitexture pipeline features: although powerful, it was so complicated to program that a new programming model was needed to expose the shading capabilities of graphics hardware.

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