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Rasterisation (or rasterization) is the task of taking an image described in a vector graphics format (shapes) and converting it into a raster image (pixels or dots) for output on a video display or printer, or for storage in a bitmap file format.



The term "rasterization" can in general be applied to any process by which vector information can be converted into a raster format.

In normal usage, the term refers to the popular rendering algorithm for displaying three-dimensional shapes on a computer. Rasterization is currently the most popular technique for producing real-time 3D computer graphics. Real-time applications need to respond immediately to user input, and generally need to produce frame rates of at least 25 frames per second to achieve smooth animation.

Compared with other rendering techniques such as ray tracing, rasterization is extremely fast. However, rasterization is simply the process of computing the mapping from scene geometry to pixels and does not prescribe a particular way to compute the color of those pixels. Shading, including programmable shading, may be based on physical light transport, or artistic intent.

The process of rasterising 3D models onto a 2D plane for display on a computer screen is often carried out by fixed function hardware within the graphics pipeline. This is because there is no motivation for modifying the techniques for rasterisation used at render time - a non configurable system allows for high efficiency.

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