History of OpenGL Hardware Accelerated Tessellation

History of OpenGL Hardware Accelerated Tessallation
A simple mesh sphere with a touch of hardware tessellation!

Here a nice overview (a rather detailed overview!) about the world and history of hardware tessellation in OpenGL. The article covers ATI TruForm (GL_ATI_pn_triangles) which was the first GPU tessellation technology (Radeon 8500 ouch!), geometry shaders (introduced with shader model 4.0) that allow tessellation with the creation of new primitives but are actually inefficient in practice, tessellator on Radeon HD 2000 (GL_AMD_vertex_shader_tessellator), and the article ends up with tessellation on GTX 400 / HD 5000.

You can read the complete article HERE.

If you want to play with Radeon HD 2000 tessellator here is what you need:

It’s a GeeXLab demo, I didn’t tested it with the lasted GeeXLab 0.2.5 but it should work on Radeon cards…

And if you want real and modern GPU tessellation (GTX 400 / HD 5000), just download TessMark:

TessMark: OpenGL 4 Tessellation Benchmark


  • did I miss something or was software tessellation left out completely (“Generic mesh refinement on GPU”)?

  • OK, now everybody will say it’s not true hardware tessellation…

  • Korvin77

    when I had Radeon 9000 (non Pro :( ) I played Serious Sam SE which used ATI_pn_triangles and had special demo mode where were three primitives with and without tesselation and it worked good. So sad that ATI completely gave up tesselation then.

  • Stefan

    The “Radeon HD 2000 tessellator” demo doesn’t work with CAT 10.5 or newer with either old or new GeexLab.

    Actually ATI must have made major OpenGL changes between CAT 10.4 and 10.5 judging from complaints in misc. forums.

  • Korvin77

    Radeon HD 2000 tessellator demo works good on my Radeon 4850 + Cat10.8 + Win7 x64 + GeeXLab 0.2.5

  • Stefan

    I forgot to add a screenshot how it looks like with CAT 10.5+ (and CEDAR 5470)