TC Mag reports NVIDIA's IP portfolio has reached 1,000 patents. The latest patent was awarded on October 27th and deals with partial texture load balancing:
"Textures can be 32-bit, 64-bit, or 128-bit. But anything larger than 32-bit requires more than one pass. Before Bastos and Kilgariff's invention, texture lookups were monolithic instructions that took multiple cycles to be executed, leaving other shader functional units to sit idle. “The idle units in the pipe presented the opportunity to try to fit other, non-texture instructions in those slots – i.e., run more than one instruction per cycle,” says Bastos. But to do that, the monolithic texture-load instructions had to be split into chunks. Break a 128-bit texture into four pieces – each of which can be completed in one pass – and that lets one cycle-hungry instruction be broken into four instructions. Doing this means that other circuits keep processing instructions – no more waiting."