What is Tessellation?

A Definition of Tessellation in a PC Gaming Environment

Tessellation example
amd.com

In video card reviews, the term "tessellation" is often referred to in regards to performance. But what exactly is tessellation and how does it affect the way you game? Find out more about tessellation below.

What is tessellation?

Tessellation is essentially the act of dividing a polygon (closed shape) into smaller parts. For instance, two triangles can be created when you cut a square diagonally. By tessellating the polygon into those triangles, developers can then deploy additional technologies, such as displacement mapping, to create more realistic images.

The result? In DirectX 11, tessellation makes smoother models. This creates better looking game characters and terrains.

How does PC hardware utilize tessellation?

Graphics cards use tessellation units to morph the tessellated triangles into a stream of pixels for shading. The benefits include more realistic lighting and smoother geometry for an enhanced gaming experience.