With the release of 2.48 we have 2 very special features added!
Normal maps in GLSL, and Direct Draw surfaces (DDS).
Normal maps give your models a lighting trick to make fine details on your models.
DDS in short:
-PNG or JPG textures are uncompressed by software, then sent, stored and used raw, uncompressed in the video memory
-DDS textures are sent straight to the video memory, stored as is (compressed), and uncompressed on the fly by the hardware at no cost (in fact, there is a gain because there is less memory access)
So DDS is clearly superior for performances, especially if you don’t have tons of video memory. Compression ratio of DDS is 8x or 4x depending on the alpha channel requirements.
Learn more about DDS and DXT here:
Get the normal map plugin here:
and get the DDS plugin here:
If you are a windows user, here is a nice utility. it will let you see DDS files in explorer as thumbnails!