Chapter 8. Shaders

A shader specifies programmable operations that execute for each vertex, control point, tessellated vertex, primitive, fragment, or workgroup in the corresponding stage(s) of the graphics and compute pipelines.

Graphics pipelines include vertex shader execution as a result of primitive assembly, followed, if enabled, by tessellation control and evaluation shaders operating on patches, geometry shaders, if enabled, operating on primitives, and fragment shaders, if present, operating on fragments generated by Rasterization. In this specification, vertex, tessellation control, tessellation evaluation and geometry shaders are collectively referred to as vertex processing stages and occur in the logical pipeline before rasterization. The fragment shader occurs logically after rasterization.

Only the compute shader stage is included in a compute pipeline. Compute shaders operate on compute invocations in a workgroup.

Shaders can read from input variables, and read from and write to output variables. Input and output variables can be used to transfer data between shader stages, or to allow the shader to interact with values that exist in the execution environment. Similarly, the execution environment provides constants that describe capabilities.

Shader variables are associated with execution environment-provided inputs and outputs using built-in decorations in the shader. The available decorations for each stage are documented in the following subsections.