Zack Stern explains:
''The shiny, new hatchback you nudge in a street race dents slightly on the driver's side door. Although you're playing a PC game, created with beaucoup equations, the bend looks almost real. The 3D renderer sculpts all those numbers into images, with help from the video API (application program interface). However, several completely different rendering techniques can be the source of those images. Currently, the hardware and software industries are debating how to best utilize two graphics-rendering techniques: ray tracing and rasterization.
Rasterizing is widely used to render current 3D games because it strikes a compromise between real-time processing demands and pretty pictures. Its regular, predictable patterns are also suited to specialized massively parallel processors, such as GPUs. Essentially, the raster engine looks at the thousands of 2D triangles that build a 3D scene and determines which are visible in the current perspective. With that information, the engine analyzes the light sources and other environment details to light and color pixels onto each triangle.''