Video Cards

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Video Cards

Introduction

People are living in a three-dimensional space. They know what is up, down, left, right, close and far. They know when something is getting closer or moving away. However, the traditional personal computers can only make use of two dimensional space due to relatively low technology level of the video card in the past. As the new technology has been introduced to the video card industry in recent years, the video card can now render 3D graphics. Most of the PC computer games nowadays are in three dimensions. In addition, some web sites also apply the use of three dimensional space. This means that they are no longer a flat homepage, but instead a virtual world. With that added dimension, they all look more realistic and attractive. Nevertheless, 3D do not exist in most of the business programs today, but it can be forecasted that it is not far away.

Many new kinds of video cards have been introduced to the market recently. In the past, the video card could only deliver two dimensional graphics which were only in low resolution. However, there has now emerged as a result of high resolution three dimensional graphics technology. This paper will discuss why the video card nowadays can process high resolution three dimensional graphics, but why the video card in the past could only process low resolution two dimensional graphics. The explanation will be based on some recently developed video cards such like Matrox Millennium. This paper will also discuss how the 3D graphic displays on a 2D monitor. Lastly, the video card, Matrox Millennium, will also be discussed.

Basic principles

In order to understand the recent development of the video card, let's take a look on how a video card works.

The video card is a circuit, which is responsible for processing the special video data from the central processing unit (CPU) into a format that the visual display unit (VDU) or monitor can understand, to form a picture on the screen. The Video Chipset, the Video Memory ( Video RAM ) and the Digital Analog Converter ( RAM DAC ) are the major parts of a video card.

After the special video data leaves the CPU, it has to pass through four major steps inside the video card before it reaches the VDU finally. First, the special video data will transfer from the CPU to the Video Chipset, which is the part responsible for processing the special video data, through the bus. Secondly, the data will transfer from the Video Chipset to the Video Memory which stores the image displayed on a bitmap display. Then, the data will transfer to the RAM DAC which is responsible for reading the image and converting the image from digital data to analog data. It should be noted that every data transfer inside the computer system is digital. Lastly, the analog data will transfer from the RAM DAC to the VDU through a cable connected between them outside the computer system.

The performance of a video card is mainly dependent upon its speed, the amount and quality of the Video Memory, the Video Chipset and the RAM DAC.

The faster the speed, the higher the picture quality and resolution the video card can deliver. This is due to the fact that the picture on the VDU has to change continuously, and this change must be made as fast as possible in order to display a high quality and realistic image. In the process of transferring data from the CPU to the Video Chipset, the speed is mainly dependent upon the type and speed of the bus, the mainboard and its chipset.

The amount of the Video Memory is also responsible for the color and screen resolution. The higher the amount of the Video Memory, the higher the color depth the video card can render. On the other hand, the type of the Video RAM is an another factor that affects the speed of the video card.

The Video Chipset is the brain of a video card. It similar to the CPU in the motherboard. However, unlike the CPU which can be fitted with...
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