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Even though it may not seem like it or be that popular to most people, the graphics card is one of the most important parts in the computer. It does all the hard work of changing the info sent from the computer to show a picture on your computer screen, TV, etc. Every pixel has to be changed many times a second and that is not an easy job. That is why very often companies build a new and better one to compete with everyone else and make your playback more enjoyable. It has had a very bad history in performance but as the years go by it gets better exponentially.
There are many people and times that are included in the making of the graphics card/graphics display machine. The whirlwind was made in 1940 and is considered the first graphics display machine. Later on Dr. Ivan Sutherland would write the sketchpad in 1963. It was only for the use of a TX-2 computer. But, it still was great at the time and as long as people could see, they were fine. Though today that is not the case. Every little detail has to be correct for people to be satisfied and it is not always in their budget range. Anyway, in 1970 Alan Kay made the Alto which used icons (probably now are apps) to perform a task. All of these are just machines that have come close to getting a screen and looking at what you are doing but not quite there yet. Then it happened. Of course, IBM made the first graphics card. This was in 1980 – ten years after Alto and is almost obviously a huge improvement. As the first made 30 years ago, now that [might] wouldn’t be able to run Microsoft word and keep up with all the typing. It is so outdated, that it probably won’t fit in any computer made in the last ten years. But after all, this was 30 years ago and people in the 80’s never saw anything like that before. Finally in 1990, the extended graphics card was made and it is still in use today. We don’t really use that exact graphics card, it has had a lot of improvements. Still your basic graphics card, useful for your everyday use, but nothing really to take seriously.
There is one pinpoint most important stage in evolving the graphics card and that is IBM and the first graphics display machine. It was the IBM 1130 computer and use IBM 2250 graphics. It basically was a blank TV screen that used software from the 1130. It was drawn with a “pen” across the screen to display the graphics. For the first time, you could actually see something and really one of the most important turning points of getting HD on your TV screen and getting smooth playback from the movie just inserted into the DVD drive of your laptop.
Like any other technology, there are parts that are scrapped away and replaced with [smaller] better, faster, and more efficient parts to get the job done faster and better. Here is the one part that is completely over with. It is the ISA (Industry Standard Architecture.) It is the oldest Pc standard interface. It became obsolete a really long time ago and is never to be used again. In fact, no motherboard has an ISA slot at all so there is no chance to find a store that sells something that will never be used again and has no value. This thing only ranges at 8-16 bits when graphics cards now could reach 1 GB, which is tens of thousands of times more. EISA made another of those things a while later and had 32 bits but was so expensive it was not worth it at all. These blew by quickly when cheaper ones came out that were incredibly better.
This is some crazy improvements that took place from 30 years ago to today’s graphics cards. MDA had 4 kilobytes memory and could have 720 by 350 pixels. CGA had 16 kilobytes but only 160 by 200 pixels. Memory capacity now is from 128 MB to 4 GB, (insanity) though not a great deal go over 1GB (Not that you need any more.) With a bare minimum of 128 MB graphics card verses an 8 kilobyte one, the 128 is around 32,000,000 times better. Against the CGA it is 8,000,000 times better. There is no need to say the 4 GB one against these because it is completely irrelevant seeing what a minor graphics card can do to these bad ones.
One of the most important part of the science of a graphics card is its parts. There are some that are just there and not as important as the others such as the VGA output. There is a composite video jack that is used in TVs for presentations and signals. There is the S-video that is live the composite video jack but it breaks out light and color. HDMI (explained later) is a new and improved way of making some things easier. Now there is the graphics card interface, usually APG or PCI express. This plugs into the motherboard and is where the graphics card and the computer hand each other information. The graphics card has a huge job in the computer, and it shows. It uses the same amount of power as a 150 watt lamp. With all this heat, the graphics card can be badly destroyed, ruined, and removed if necessary. This is where the coolers and heatsinks come into place. They are located on top of the graphics processor which is why you can never see it unless you remove it. The processor is the largest, hottest, and most important part of the graphics card, so having a cooler on it is essential. There are 2-8 memory chips surrounding the perimeter of the graphics card. These are squares and rectangles and do not always need to have a heatsink. In some cases, it needs one and gets it. Sometimes the memory chips are in-between, they could have one, but don’t have to have it. Here it uses the same cooler as the processor.
Graphics cards were a huge part in the development of computers. Without them, there would be no screen to computers, just a box with knobs and bolts. They are one of the first things to look at when buying a new computer, so things work faster and better on the screen there are.
Said simply, graphics cards are not too hard to understand how they work. The pictures on a screen are made up of pixels, and there is an average of a million pixels on a computer screen. Binary data is the information that decides what to do with every single pixel. The CPU sends the binary data, but it needs a translator to know what to do with every pixel, which happens in the graphics card (unless there is graphics card capabilities in the motherboard.)
The CPU (which stands for central processing unit) is very important too. It is the brains of the computer, so it is probably the most important part. Without it computers are useless, no games, type, or surf the internet.
The CPU has a specific job. It executes a series of instructions known as a program to the graphics card. It conforms to the Von Neumann Architecture (later explained.) Its main job is to fetch, decode, execute and rewrite things back at an incredible speed. This is how the computer gets everything is done inside of the CPU, but not all of it is centered on the graphics.
The VNA has four components: memory, input/output system, arithmetic/logic unit, and a control unit. The architecture is named by the person who invented it. This is how they work:
The memory is temporary storage for instructions and data, called RAM. This is where the graphics card gets the data o put a picture on the screen. Usually, not much is needed unless playing games is a pastime. The memory is placed into cells with an address so it can be found easily.
The I/O system is what makes facebook work. It lets people communicate with the outside world and other devices too, such as from a computer to an iPod. It is responsible for program storage, probably that goes to the RAM. It is very alike to a hard drive control.
The arithmetic/logic unit does all the arithmetic operations and comparisons, like a calculator. The ALU has three different parts to it: the register, ALU circuitry, and pathways in-between. The register is storage that works like RAM, although it is much faster. The ALU circuitry performs all the calculations. Finally, pathways in-between are pathways for electrical currents to go into the ALU.
The final part to the VNA is the control unit. What it has to do is to: get the instructions to run a program and decode it so it knows what it is supposed to be doing. After it finds all that out, it has to issue all the commands the ALU and I/O to get the job done. So the components know when to stop, the commands last line to follow is either QUIT or STOP.
The most powerful graphics card in the world is not in a computer, it is in the Xbox 360. It is called the Xenos and it has 48 ALU units making it even more powerful than the NVIDA and AGEIA. An also great graphics card but not yet as great as the ones now is the PS3 RSX.
Want to know how a graphics card performance is measured in? When finding a good graphics card, these are the three things to look at: core clock speed, pixel pipelines, textures per pipeline, and memory clock speed.
Core clock speed is not the best way to find out how fast a graphics card is. Core clock speed is measured in MHz so the more MHz a graphics card has could mean it is a better one. MHz is clock cycles per second.
Pixel pipelines may be the best way to determine how smoothly a graphics card works on a device. It is the speed of changing in-between pictures which is a huge factor in getting a smooth video. It is self explanatory how they affect the screen, a graphics card with eight pixel pipelines will be 2x faster than one with only four.
Textures per pipelines are not a good way at all to see how well it will work for a couple reasons. They only come into play if there is more than one color per pixel. If there is only one color per pixel, it does not change anything at all, just speeds up those single pixels. Overall, it is not something to look at, at all unless computer gaming are all the computer needs.
Finally, the speed is also measured in memory clock speed. It is the exact same thing as clock speed but it measures the memory instead. The more MHz’s the better. This is just as important because it contains the textures that are applied to pixels.
The following is something amazing that shows the changes in graphics cards needed in the last years. In black and white, one bit per pixel is needed, and with everything, you need around 3,500 bytes. Color needs three-four bytes per pixel and with today’s average 1,200 by 1,600 pixel screen that’s a lot of bits. You need 8,000,000 bytes of memory.
To conclude the science part of graphics cards are graphics core processors. A simple graphics card is called a frame buffer, a frame of information sent to the screen. The microprocessor does all the work to change every byte into memory. With complex operations, the microprocessor spends all its time updating memory and cannot get any real work done. A 3-D image has 10,000 polygons, and it has to fill and color every single one. It has to concentrate on what it has to do so getting a good graphics card to begin with will make everything run extremely well.
There is great part of the graphics card that makes life a lot easier most of the time and that is HDMI. Things used to be a lot harder when you had to have two cables for audio and video but then this came out. It supports both of these and does a great job at it too. This was originally made for TV or movie apps, which needed this, the most. This has a highly secure format, and can get HD and high resolution.
Like the amazing supercomputers, they made a super graphics card as well. It is from the producer Matrox, and is a monster compared to regular everyday graphics cards. This has a 10 gb bandwidth, and everyday graphics card has less than one GB. It is huge compared to other ones too; it is about the size of five averaged sixed graphics cards. It runs four instances of crisis at max settings and you the best is needed to run one. This super wonder probably will not fit into a regular computer so maybe it was not the best idea to build it.
Everywhere there are average graphics cards that impact us a lot even for being average. They have great things called local memory that makes it a lot easier for the graphics card to get all the needed info to perform a task. Without it, it has to take more time to go all the way into the RAM and finally find what it is looking for, when it could be easily in reach. Graphics cards can either have 128, 256, or 512 MB local memory. DDR2 and GDDR3 are being used to do these kinds of things. The bigger it is in this case exclusively, it is almost always better because most of the time, things need more than 512 MB of memory storage and the easier the graphics card can pull from the local memory means less time going to the RAM instead. There are more data/textures stored locally so this is a great thing to have on your graphics card.
A huge misunderstanding is that having more RAM is definitely better that having less. This is not always the case. Having less RAM will not be a problem all the time and could actually help you save money. For example, if a game only requires 700MB to run smoothly, then a 1 GB card will work just as great as a 2GB card. The performance will only be worse when you need more RAM than what you have. This way if you have a 1GB card and a game requires 1.5GB, then the 2 GB card will finally show some improvement. These are some things to be taken into consideration because when all you need for everything to be fine and great, is a 512MB card and you go ahead and buy a 2 GB one, you might be losing about $100 just because you think something will work better but are not sure.
First of all, when upgrading your graphics card, is to understand what resolution you are going to be using. A smaller screen needs less RAM because of less resolution. With a higher resolution, you will need more RAM than a lower one just because you have to have [more] textures per pipeline (like said before, more than one color on a pixel.) Everything under the 21″ point is okay with the same amount of RAM. When it gets to the point where it is higher, that’s where getting slightly more RAM is necessary. Trying to play all the time on the best possible might be a very dumb idea because unless you have a lot of money to spare, then it can cost hundreds of dollars.
In conclusion, the graphics card has done a lot to get where it is now and is doing a great job at meeting all our standards. Now people have the pleasure of watching great movies in HD and getting the best out of their gaming experience. Sadly, as the want to get even better graphics that we have now increases, the demands of RAM will get even higher. But until that time comes, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.
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