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Direct3D is designed to enable interactive three-dimensional (3-D) graphics on a computer running Windows. Its mission is to provide device-dependent access to 3-D video-display hardware in a device-independent manner. Simply put, Direct3D is a drawing interface for 3-D hardware.
The Direct3D architecture is based on a virtual 3D rendering engine composed of three separate modules. Each of these modules can be hardware accelerated or emulated in software. Direct3D can be queried to verify which components are currently running under emulation. The three modules are known separately as the transform module, lighting module and the raster module. When used together these elements form the Direct 3D rendering pipeline.
This interaction between applications, Direct3D, and the display adapter is summarized in the following table: