Direct3D is part of Microsoft’s DirectX application programming interface (API). Direct3D is available for Microsoft Windows operating systems (Windows 95 and above), and for other platforms through the open source software Wine.
It is the base for the graphics API on the Xbox and Xbox 360 console systems. Direct3D is used to render three dimensional graphics in applications where performance is important, such as games. Direct3D also allows applications to run fullscreen instead of embedded in a window, though they can still run in a window if programmed for that feature.
Direct3D uses hardware acceleration if it is available on the graphics card, allowing for hardware acceleration of the entire 3D rendering pipeline or even only partial acceleration. Direct3D exposes the advanced graphics capabilities of 3D graphics hardware, including z-buffering, anti-aliasing, alpha blending, mipmapping, atmospheric effects, and perspective-correct texture mapping.
Integration with other DirectX technologies enables Direct3D to deliver such features as video mapping, hardware 3D rendering in 2D overlay planes, and even sprites, providing the use of 2D and 3D graphics in interactive media titles.