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Written by: David "Spunk" Grampa - January 30, 2000
Last updated by: Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy - December 13, 2002
If you think of any terms to add to this dictionary, please e-mail us!
Bilinear Filtering - Byte
Bilinear Filtering - This is a feature implemented in most 3D accelerators that allows your computer to render graphics less pixelated or blocky-looking. This feature is widely used to smooth out textures and make them more pleasing to the eye. The colors of four pixels (or texels if you want to get technical) are taken and averaged to make one nice, solid, and smooth pixel through the nice term filtering that can be found after bilinear. However, bilinear filtering sometimes may cause an object in a game, or whatever, to lose depth or the "texture-feel" originally intended. This is where the process Trilinear Filtering comes in.
BIOS - Basic Input/Output System, usually referring to a small ROM chip on a motherboard that holds software to control booting of a PC, detection of keyboard, hard disk drives, accessories, IRQs, and memory management.
Bit (or Bits) and Binary - A binary digit, AKA "bit" is how a PC represents electrical pulses. Usually a "1" indicates a high voltage (or "TRUE","ON") and a "0" indicates a low voltage (or "FALSE", "OFF"). A binary digit only has these two values: 0 and 1. If you consider the decimal system (that has 10 possible values) as base 10, binary is a number system with base 2.
Bitmap - Any image you see on your computer monitor can be called a bitmap. That's a 'map' of dots arranged in rows and columns, each dot (or pixel at the smallest scale) is assigned a given color that in conjunction with other dots forms a graphical image! The more bits of data each dot is allowed to hold lets a greater number of colors to be represented, and we all know the more colors the better. Anyone who had a LightBright when they were little will probably pick up on this concept easily, however if you are the more mature type (or just too cool to admit it) then bitmapping can be compared to Impressionism art =]
Bitmapping - Bitmapping is the act of your computer's hardware in rendering pictures or bitmaps on the screen by drawing each individual pixel or dot in the coordinating row/column. This process is done so incredibly fast by your computer that in one second, the average computer draws 20 frames, each frame containing over a half a million dots. Now just think, half the video accelerators we review at this site can hit over 70 frames in a second, with each frame containing nearly two million dots... And on atop of that they also do a million other things in that same second to each frame, like bilinear filtering, etc.
Blocky Filtering - This is really not a filtering method, but more or less a term to describe texture-mapped visuals in a game that appear blocky or pixelated. The term generally describes low detail or low resolution scenes.
Bump-Mapping - Avisual trick or method used to simulate an objects surface texture, for example roughness or smoothness, is called bump-mapping.To do this in 3D, developers assign each polygon two textures. One of which is a normal base texture for visual graphics much like any other texture in a game. A second is a displacement texture, that is mapped on an object. The displacement texture simulates the roughness of the object. So why not just graphically make an object look bumpy? That is possible, too, but would require a very high number of polygons. A cube that would normally require only a few polygons to create would need thousands to simulate bumps all over its surface. However, with bump-mapping, the bump-mapped texture reflects light differently from different angles just like a naturally rough or smooth surface does here in the real world. This is why a transition from graphically rough textures (that appear flat) to bump-mapped rough textures was made.
Bump-Maps - A bump-map is two texture-maps slapped down on top of each other. Bump-maps are able to have an actual surface texture, full fit with crevices and bumps. If you haven't read the definition for bump-mapping, you are probably really confused, so check out its definition above.
Byte - 8 bits. As computers started using larger and larger values, the "byte" has been replaced with the more common "kilobyte", "megabyte", "gigabyte", and "terabyte".