I am doing bump mapping with ARB extensions only, one texture unit holds the bump map, one a colormap that is entirely white and one holds the normalization cube map. As input I use the half angle vector. plain simple and ordinary.

Well, on low level hardware you could just use a lookup texture with the s-axis as dot(N,H) and t-axis as the shininess exponent. You don’t get very good resolution though for high shininess exponents. Its going to take a lot of passes on GF1/2 level hardware no matter what way you do it. Even on higher level hardware, the lookup texture is a pretty good way to go.

Lots of people just go for a fixed shininess exponent, and vary the intensity of the specular component of the lighting equation instead by using a glossiness texture. Btw, I’m defining shininess & glossiness like this:

about “low level hardware”: It’s in fact not that low (gf 4 ti), but as I when using a gloss map I will need two passes anyway (also if I’d use register combiners), I might as well use ARB extensions, so my program would run on ati cards as well.

I read about using a lookup texture for specular hightlights some times here, but I cannot really imagine how this should be done (have to do research and/or think work ). do you have any information/links?

The concept of using a texture to do the specular light equation can be generalized. In general, its often useful to use a texture to encode a equation, because its faster than computing it directly in the shader.

If you have some function f(x,y), defined on ranges x in [x_0, x_1], and y in [y_0, y_1] you can encode this function in a texture. Basically you scale both the x-range & y-range so that they’re 0-1 and encode x in the s-axis and y in the t-axis. You can also generalize this concept by using 1D, cubemap, and 3D textures. The normalization cubemap is simply an example of encoding a 3D function f(x,y,z)-> norm(x,y,z) using a cubemap texture.

You’ll see this idea over and over again in shaders. Its a very common optimization strategy.

I cannot really imagine how to do this with specular lighting. of course, it is a function that can be encoded in a texture, but one texture coordinate would have to be the result of the dot3, the other one the specular exponent!? how can this be done?