ATI Graphics Board Definitions
Reviewed by: Makaveli
Reviewed on: April 5, 2007
Graphics Core, GPU: A GPU is a dedicated graphics microprocessor. Its aim is to lighten the working charge of the CPU, because of that, it is optimized for floating point computing, which is very common in 3D functions. The majority of the information provided in a video card specification is referred to the GPU attributes, which shows its importance among the components of the video card. The main attributes of the GPU are the core clock rate, which in 2006 oscillated between 250 MHz and 650 MHz, and the number of pipelines (vertex and fragment shaders), whose aim is to translate a 3D image formed by vertexes and lines into a 2D image formed by pixels.
Video Memory: If the video card is integrated in the motherboard, it will use the computer RAM memory (lower throughput). If it is not integrated, the video card will have its own video memory which is called Video RAM or VRAM. The VRAM capacity of most modern video cards range from 128 to 1024 MB (workstation graphics cards). In 2006, the VRAM was based on DDR technology, standing out DDR2, GDDR3 and GDDR4. The memory clock rate is between 400 MHz and 1.6 GHz. A very important element of the video memory is the Z-buffer, which manages the depth coordinates in 3D graphics.
Video Bios: The video BIOS or firmware chip is a chip that contains the basic program that governs the video card's operations and provides the instructions that allow the computer and software to interface with the card. It contains information on the memory timing, operating speeds and voltages of the processor and ram and other information. It is possible to re-flash a bios although this is typically only done by video card overclockers.
RAMDAC: Random Access Memory Digital-to-Analog Converter. RAMDAC takes responsibility for turning the digital signals produced by the computer processor into an analogical signal which can be understood by the computer display. Depending on the number of bits used and the RAMDAC data transfer rate, the converter will be able to support different computer display refresh rates. With CRT displays, it is best to work over 75 Hz and never under 60 Hz, in order to minimize flicker. (With LCD displays, flicker is not a problem.) Due to the growing popularity of digital computer displays and the migration of some of its functions to the motherboard, the RAMDAC is slowly disappearing.
- SVGA: Analogical standard from the late 1980s, it was designed for CRT displays. Some problems of this standard are electrical noise, image distortion and sampling error evaluating pixels.
- DVI: Designed for digital displays as LCD displays and video projectors. It avoids image distortion and electrical noise, corresponding each pixel from the computer to a display pixel, using its native resolution.
- S-Video: Included to allow the connection with DVD players, video recorders and video game consoles.
- Composite video: Analogic system, with very low resolution. It uses RCA connector
- Component video: It has three cables, each with RCA connector (YCbCr); it is used in projectors.
- PCI: 32 bit, 33 MHz. Replaced the previous buses from 1993. PCI allowed dynamic connectivity between devices, avoiding the jumpers’ manual adjustments. PCI-X was a version that improved PCI to 64 bits and 133 MHz.
- AGP: (Accelerated Graphics Port) Dedicated to graphics bus, 32 bits, 66 MHz.
- PCI-Express: Point to point interface, released in 2004. In 2006 doubled AGP data transfer rate. Should not be confused with PCI-X, an enhanced version of the original PCI specification.
Direct3D: Released by Microsoft in 1996, is a component of DirectX. Designed to be used exclusively in Windows, it is used by the majority of Windows videogames.
OpenGL: Developed by Silicon Graphics in the early 1990s, OpenGL is a free, open, multi-language and multi-platform API. It is widely used in CAD, virtual reality, scientific visualization, information visualization and flight simulation.
Anti-aliasing (AA): a technique used to counter distortion caused by aliasing effects.
Shader: pixel and vertex processing in terms of illumination, atmospheric optical phenomena or multi-layer surfaces.
High dynamic range rendering (HDR): a technique used to enable a wider range of brightness in real scenes (from light sources to dark shadows).
Texture mapping: allows the addition of details on surfaces, without adding complexity.
Motion blur: technique that blurs objects in motion.
Depth blur: technique that blurs faraway objects.
Lens flare: imitation of light sources.
Fresnel effect: reflections over an object, depending on the angle of vision. The more angle of vision, the more reflection.
Microsoft DirectX: is a collection of APIs for handling tasks related to multimedia, especially game programming and video, on Microsoft platforms. One portion of it, Direct3D, competes against OpenGL and others against SDL. Direct3D is widely used in the development of computer games for Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Xbox and Microsoft Xbox 360. DirectMedia Layer is used in video editing and playback.
DirectX is also used among other software production industries, most notably among the engineering sector because of its ability to quickly render high-quality 3D graphics using the latest 3D graphics hardware.
ATI® Catalyst Control Center: This is ATI’s new user interface that revolutionizes how users interact with their ATI graphics accelerator – users can very quickly setup and configure their graphics accelerator settings using the Catalyst Control Center.
ATI® Hydravision (HV): A separate software package that allows users to more efficiently organize multiple applications across multiple displays
ATI® Avivo™: 16-bit per RGB color component High Dynamic Range (HDR) capable of over one trillion colors.
ATI® CrossFire™: A multi-GPU performance gaming platform offered by ATI.
ATI® HyperMemory™: ATI’s innovative technology that enables a reduction in the amount of on-board memory on a graphics card without compromising its overall performance.
*All information taken from WIkipedia and ATI.