BC7 Format

The BC7 format is a texture compression format used for high-quality compression of RGB and RGBA data.

For info about the block modes of the BC7 format, see BC7 Format Mode Reference.


BC7 is specified by the following DXGI_FORMAT enumeration values:


The BC7 format can be used for Texture2D (including arrays), Texture3D, or TextureCube (including arrays) texture resources. Similarly, this format applies to any MIP-map surfaces associated with these resources.

BC7 uses a fixed block size of 16 bytes (128 bits) and a fixed tile size of 4x4 texels. As with previous BC formats, texture images larger than the supported tile size (4x4) are compressed by using multiple blocks. This addressing identity also applies to three-dimensional images and MIP-maps, cubemaps, and texture arrays. All image tiles must be of the same format.

BC7 compresses both three-channel (RGB) and four-channel (RGBA) fixed-point data images. Typically, source data is 8 bits per color component (channel), although the format is capable of encoding source data with higher bits per color component. All image tiles must be of the same format.

The BC7 decoder performs decompression before texture filtering is applied.

BC7 decompression hardware must be bit accurate; that is, the hardware must return results that are identical to the results returned by the decoder described in this document.

BC7 Implementation

A BC7 implementation can specify one of 8 modes, with the mode specified in the least significant bit of the 16 byte (128 bit) block. The mode is encoded by zero or more bits with a value of 0 followed by a 1.

A BC7 block can contain multiple endpoint pairs. For the purposes of this documentation, the set of indices that correspond to an endpoint pair may be referred to as a "subset." Also, in some block modes, the endpoint representation is encoded in a form that -- again, for the purposes of this documentation -- shall be referred to as "RBGP," where the "P" bit represents a shared least significant bit for the color components of the endpoint. For example, if the endpoint representation for the format is "RGB," then the endpoint is interpreted as an RGB 6.6.6 value, where the state of the P-bit defines the least significant bit of each component. Similarly, for source data with an alpha channel, if the representation for the format is "RGBAP," then the endpoint is interepreted as RGBA Depending on the block mode, you can specify the shared least significant bit for either both endpoints of a subset individually (2 P-bits per subset), or shared between endpoints of a subset (1 P-bit per subset).

For BC7 blocks that don't explicitly encode the alpha component, a BC7 block consists of mode bits, partition bits, compressed endpoints, compressed indices, and an optional P-bit. In these blocks the endpoints have an RGB-only representation and the alpha component is decoded as 1.0 for all texels in the source data.

For BC7 blocks that have combined color and alpha components, a block consists of mode bits, compressed endpoints, compressed indices, and optional partition bits and a P-bit. In these blocks, the endpoint colors are expressed in RGBA format, and alpha component values are interpolated alongside the color component values.

For BC7 blocks that have separate color and alpha components, a block consists of mode bits, rotation bits, compressed endpoints, compressed indices, and an optional index selector bit. These blocks have an effective RGB vector [R, G, B] and a scalar alpha channel [A] separately encoded.

The following table lists the components of each block type.

BC7 block contains... mode bits rotation bits index selector bit partition bits compressed endpoints P-bit compressed indices
color components only required N/A N/A required required optional required
color + alpha combined required N/A N/A optional required optional required
color and alpha separated required required optional N/A required N/A required


BC7 defines a palette of colors on an approximate line between two endpoints. The mode value determines the number of interpolating endpoint pairs per block. BC7 stores one palette index per texel.

For each subset of indices that corresponds to a pair of endpoints, the encoder fixes the state of one bit of the compressed index data for that subset. It does so by choosing an endpoint order that allows the index for the designated "fix-up" index to set its most significant bit to 0, and which can then be discarded, saving one bit per subset. For block modes with only a single subset, the fix-up index is always index 0.

Decoding the BC7 Format

The following pseudocode outlines the steps to decompress the pixel at (x,y) given the 16 byte BC7 block.

decompress_bc7(x, y, block)
    mode = extract_mode(block);
    //decode partition data from explicit partition bits
    subset_index = 0;
    num_subsets = 1;
    if (mode.type == 0 OR == 1 OR == 2 OR == 3 OR == 7)
        num_subsets = get_num_subsets(mode.type);
        partition_set_id = extract_partition_set_id(mode, block);
        subset_index = get_partition_index(num_subsets, partition_set_id, x, y);
    //extract raw, compressed endpoint bits
    UINT8 endpoint_array[num_subsets][4] = extract_endpoints(mode, block);
    //decode endpoint color and alpha for each subset
    fully_decode_endpoints(endpoint_array, mode, block);
    //endpoints are now complete.
    UINT8 endpoint_start[4] = endpoint_array[2 * subset_index];
    UINT8 endpoint_end[4]   = endpoint_array[2 * subset_index + 1];
    //Determine the palette index for this pixel
    alpha_index     = get_alpha_index(block, mode, x, y);
    alpha_bitcount  = get_alpha_bitcount(block, mode);
    color_index     = get_color_index(block, mode, x, y);
    color_bitcount  = get_color_bitcount(block, mode);

    //determine output
    UINT8 output[4];
    output.rgb = interpolate(endpoint_start.rgb, endpoint_end.rgb, color_index, color_bitcount);
    output.a   = interpolate(endpoint_start.a,   endpoint_end.a,   alpha_index, alpha_bitcount);
    if (mode.type == 4 OR == 5)
        //Decode the 2 color rotation bits as follows:
        // 00 – Block format is Scalar(A) Vector(RGB) - no swapping
        // 01 – Block format is Scalar(R) Vector(AGB) - swap A and R
        // 10 – Block format is Scalar(G) Vector(RAB) - swap A and G
        // 11 - Block format is Scalar(B) Vector(RGA) - swap A and B
        rotation = extract_rot_bits(mode, block);
        output = swap_channels(output, rotation);

The followoing pseudocode outlines the steps to fully decode endpoint color and alpha components for each subset given a 16-byte BC7 block.

fully_decode_endpoints(endpoint_array, mode, block)
    //first handle modes that have P-bits
    if (mode.type == 0 OR == 1 OR == 3 OR == 6 OR == 7)
        for each endpoint i
            //component-wise left-shift
            endpoint_array[i].rgba = endpoint_array[i].rgba << 1;
        //if P-bit is shared
        if (mode.type == 1) 
            pbit_zero = extract_pbit_zero(mode, block);
            pbit_one = extract_pbit_one(mode, block);
            //rgb component-wise insert pbits
            endpoint_array[0].rgb |= pbit_zero;
            endpoint_array[1].rgb |= pbit_zero;
            endpoint_array[2].rgb |= pbit_one;
            endpoint_array[3].rgb |= pbit_one;  
        else //unique P-bit per endpoint
            pbit_array = extract_pbit_array(mode, block);
            for each endpoint i
                endpoint_array[i].rgba |= pbit_array[i];

    for each endpoint i
        // Color_component_precision & alpha_component_precision includes pbit
        // left shift endpoint components so that their MSB lies in bit 7
        endpoint_array[i].rgb = endpoint_array[i].rgb << (8 - color_component_precision(mode));
        endpoint_array[i].a = endpoint_array[i].a << (8 - alpha_component_precision(mode));

        // Replicate each component's MSB into the LSBs revealed by the left-shift operation above
        endpoint_array[i].rgb = endpoint_array[i].rgb | (endpoint_array[i].rgb >> color_component_precision(mode));
        endpoint_array[i].a = endpoint_array[i].a | (endpoint_array[i].a >> alpha_component_precision(mode));
    //If this mode does not explicitly define the alpha component
    //set alpha equal to 1.0
    if (mode.type == 0 OR == 1 OR == 2 OR == 3)
        for each endpoint i
            endpoint_array[i].a = 255; //i.e. alpha = 1.0f

To generate each interpolated component for each subset, use the following algorithm: let "c" be the component to generate; let "e0" be that component of endpoint 0 of the subset; and let "e1" be that component of endpoint 1 of the subset.

UINT16 aWeight2[] = {0, 21, 43, 64};
UINT16 aWeight3[] = {0, 9, 18, 27, 37, 46, 55, 64};
UINT16 aWeight4[] = {0, 4, 9, 13, 17, 21, 26, 30, 34, 38, 43, 47, 51, 55, 60, 64};

UINT8 interpolate(UINT8 e0, UINT8 e1, UINT8 index, UINT8 indexprecision)
    if(indexprecision == 2)
        return (UINT8) (((64 - aWeights2[index])*UINT16(e0) + aWeights2[index]*UINT16(e1) + 32) >> 6);
    else if(indexprecision == 3)
        return (UINT8) (((64 - aWeights3[index])*UINT16(e0) + aWeights3[index]*UINT16(e1) + 32) >> 6);
    else // indexprecision == 4
        return (UINT8) (((64 - aWeights4[index])*UINT16(e0) + aWeights4[index]*UINT16(e1) + 32) >> 6);

The following pseudocode illustrates how to extract indices and bit counts for color and alpha components. Blocks with separate color and alpha also have two sets of index data: one for the vector channel, and one for the scalar channel. For Mode 4, these indices are of differing widths (2 or 3 bits), and there is a one-bit selector which specifies whether the vector or scalar data uses the 3-bit indices. (Extracting the alpha bit count is similar to extracting color bit count but with inverse behavior based on the idxMode bit.)

bitcount get_color_bitcount(block, mode)
    if (mode.type == 0 OR == 1)
        return 3;
    if (mode.type == 2 OR == 3 OR == 5 OR == 7)
        return 2;
    if (mode.type == 6)
        return 4;
    //The only remaining case is Mode 4 with 1-bit index selector
    idxMode = extract_idxMode(block);
    if (idxMode == 0)
        return 2;
        return 3;

Texture Block Compression in Direct3D 11