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Graphics Card: Technical Description for Professionals Coursework

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Updated: Sep 20th, 2022

This description of a graphics card is for audience with technical knowledge on the subject. A state-of-the-art graphics card consists of circuit board installed with memory and a dedicated processor, which is specifically devoted for extreme computational demands for showing graphics. Multiple modern graphics processors are installed with distinct command sets inbuilt in the chip for graphics management. From other technical perspectives, graphics card is also referred to as video card, graphics board, video display board, video board, graphics adapter card, or video adapter card (Tyson, 2007). The latest graphics cards are sophisticated and installed with computing features. These cards were once simple devices, but technological innovations have made them extremely effective.

An example of 64-MB AGP Graphics Card
Figure 1: An example of 64-MB AGP Graphics Card

Professionals familiar with how television or how computer monitor works have a better chance to comprehend how a graphics card creates a set of signals that is relayed on the screen and seen as light.

It is imperative to comprehend components of graphics card to demonstrate how it works. A basic graphics card can display black or white pixels using 640 x 480 pixel screen (Tyson, 2007). The memory is the most important component of a graphics card. Every pixel color is contained in the memory, and pixel is only black or white, for example. This implies that one bit stores every color of the pixel.

Computer interface is another component that is vital in the graphics card for transforming graphics card memory. Once the graphics card is connected to the card bus found on the motherboard, memory transformation is realized. The computer then relays signals via the bus to transform the memory.

Finally, the video interface is required to create signals transmitted to the monitor. The card then originates color signals required for synchronization to the screen. A screen can refresh 50 frames every second, implying that the graphics card can scan the whole memory array one bit at an interval at the rate of 50 times each second. The video interface delivers signals to the monitor for every pixel for every line, and remits a horizontal sync pulse. This process occurs recurrently for all the lines and then a vertical sync pulse is relayed.

The primary components of a graphics card
Figure 2: The primary components of a graphics card

The graphics card controls color in two ways. First, it can deploy four bytes for every pixel with additional pixel for alpha channel and creates enormous bytes for video memory. Alternatively, the graphics card can deploy one byte for every pixel and apply these bytes to guide a Color Look-Up Table (CLUT), which has 256 entries with four bytes for every entry (Tyson, 2007). It then loads 254 true colors that would be reflected on the screen (Tyson, 2007).

The graphics card used in this description is simple and is referred to as a frame buffer. It contains frame of information transmitted to a screen while the microprocessor apprises each byte of the memory (Tyson, 2007). Simple frame buffers are not sophisticated to support complex graphics demands. The primary role of the microprocessor is to update the video memory and, therefore, it fails to run any other operations. A 3D image, for instance, may have thousands of polygons, and the microprocessor must meet functional demands of every polygon within the memory at a slower rate of a single pixel at a given instance, which ultimately consumes much time (Tyson, 2007).

Latest graphics cards are designed with inbuilt high-power central processing unit (CPU) to lessen operational demands on the microprocessor. Hence, the CPU optimizes graphics functions using either a graphics accelerator or graphics coprocessor (the processing unit on a graphics card is known as a graphics processing unit – GPU). They have a coprocessor, which operates simultaneously with the CPU, supported with an assisting accelerator for executing commands from the CPU. The installed software in the graphics card relays associated functions to the coprocessor while the OS (operating system) remits all other demands to the CPU (Tyson, 2007). Other functions are then directed to the CPU. The CPU then instructs the graphics accelerator to execute certain graphics-based intensive functions while the coprocessor controls most complex operations, including anti-aliasing and shading (Tyson, 2007). Importantly, the graphics card and its constituents, such as the processor, coprocessor, memory, graphics BIOS, digital-to-analog converter, display connector, and the computer (bus) connector, have continues to evolve based on modern technologies for more capabilities to enhance operational efficiency for exceptionally realistic games and simulations.

References

Tyson, J. (2007). How Graphics Cards Work. Web.

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