"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody."
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Shader programming tips #2
Wednesday, February 4, 2009 | Permalink

Closely related to what I mentioned in tips #1, it's of great importance to use parantheses properly. HLSL and GLSL evaluate expressions left to right, just like C/C++. If you're multiplying vectors and scalars together the number of operations generated may differ a lot. Consider this code:
float4 result = In.color.rgba * In.intensity * 1.7;


This will result in the color vector being multiplied with the intensity scalar, which is 4 scalar operations. The result is then multipled with 1.7, which is another 4 scalar operations, for a total of 8. Now try this:
float4 result = In.color.rgba * (In.intensity * 1.7);


Intensity is now multiplied by 1.7, which is a single operation, and then the result is multiplied with color, which is 4, for a total of five scalar operations. A save of three instructions by merely placing parantheses in the code.

Shouldn't the compiler be smart enough to figure this thing out by itself? Not really. HLSL will sometimes merge constants when it considers this safe to do. However, when dealing with variables that have values with unknown range the compiler cannot make the assumption that multiplying in another order will give the same result. For instance 1e-20 * 1e30 * 1e10 will result in 1e20 if you multiply left to right, whereas 1e-20 * (1e30 * 1e10) will result in an overflow and return INF.

In general I recommend that you even place parantheses around compile-time constants to make sure the compiler merge them when appropriate.

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ruysch
Saturday, January 2, 2010

thx! nifty tip