Half-Pixel Offset in DirectX 11

Warning! Some information on this page is older than 5 years now. I keep it for reference, but it probably doesn't reflect my current knowledge and beliefs.

# Half-Pixel Offset in DirectX 11

Fri
09
Nov 2012

There is a problem graphics programmers often have to face known as half-pixel/half-texel offset. In Direct3D 9 the probably most official article about it was Directly Mapping Texels to Pixels. In Direct3D 10/11 they changed the way it works so it can be said that the problem is gone now. But I can see the entry about SV_Position in the Semantics article does not explain it clearly, so here is my short explanation.

A pixel on a screen or texel on a texture can be seen as a matrix cell, visualized as square filled with some color. That's the way we treat it in 2D graphics where we index pixels from left-top corner using integer (x, y) coordinates.

But in 3D graphics, texture can be sampled using floating-point coordinates and interpolation between texel colors can be performed. Texture coordinates in DirectX also starts from left-top corner, but position (0, 0) means the very corner of the texture, NOT the center of the first texel! Similarly, position (1, 1) on texture means its bottom-right corner. So to get exactly the color of the second texel of 8 x 8 texture, we have to sample with coordinates (1.5 / 8, 0.5 / 8).

Now if we rendered 3D scene onto a texture to perform e.g. deferred shading or some other screen-space postprocessing and we want to redraw it to the target back buffer, how do we determine coordinates for sampling this texture based on position of rendered pixel? There is a system value semantics available at pixel shader input called SV_Position which gives (x, y) pixel position. It is expressed in pixels, so it goes to e.g. (1920, 1080) and not to (1, 1) like texture coordinates. But it turns out that in Direct3D 10/11, the value of SV_Target for first pixels on the screen is not (0, 0), (1, 0), but (0.5, 0.5), (1.5, 0.5)!

Therefore to sample texture based on pixel position, it's enought to divide it by screen resolution. No need to perform any half-pixel offset - to add or subtract (0.5, 0.5), like it was done in Direct3D 9.

Texture2D g_Texture : register(t0);
SamplerState g_SamplerState : register(s0);

cbuffer : register(b0) {
    float2 g_ScreenResolution;
};

void PixelShader(float2 Position : SV_Position, out float4 Color : SV_Target)
{
    Color = g_Texture.Sample(g_SamplerState, Position / g_ScreenResolution);
}

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