Graphic Cards - Visual Computing Technology!

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Whether it is about running your computer, 3D gaming or any professional imaging or modeling, we owe it all to the graphics processing unit (GPU). It is quite fascinating when you see how the graphics technology has evolved. Before the graphic cards were invented, the hardware graphics were used; these were called the printed cards. The first ever graphic card was produced by IBM and it came in 1961. These monochromatic display adapters, as the video cards were called at the time, could display a resolution of only 720 by 350 pixels. They had a memory of 4 KB and were able to display green color only!

Graphics Card
The next generation of graphic cards came in the form of Video Graphic Adapter, or VGA. As the VGA cards had enhanced memory and could display several colors with better resolution, they remained in the market for a long time. Moreover, the introduction of VGA also led companies like ATI, S3 and Cirrus Logic to jump in and produce even better graphic cards.

In the early 1990s, IBM released its EVGA card while Intel produced Accelerated Graphics Port Digital Display card. Later, SVGA cards were introduced and became widely popular until the next generation cards were released in 1995. 2D and 3D cards came as a revolution in the computer graphics field. This led to the release of Vodoo and TNT, some of the most powerful graphic cards of the time which enabled the programmers to create profound graphics. By 1999, NVIDIA emerged as the top ranked manufacturer of 3D cards; it offered a memory of up to 125 MB. Soon this memory threshold was to cross 800 MB. NIVIDIA cards particularly gained popularity among gamers. The evolved and much improved graphics technology also paved way for the development of the gaming industry.

A graphic card chip has a GPU as its main component which stores all the information relating to the card. The performance of the graphic card depends upon the clock rate and the memory. The card, if connected to the motherboard, uses the computer memory. Otherwise, it also has its own video RAM (VRAM) which enhances the overall performance. The VRAM is the dedicated memory which is responsible for enhancing the graphics alone.

Graphic cards are mainly responsible for the output image on the monitor screen. They are important as they render quality to these images. Today, there are several professional fields that rely on exceptional graphics. Graphic cards enable users to view in depth graphics in best resolution. In addition to this, with better graphics, you can even use your computer to watch TV. Whether it is photography, medicine, architecture, modeling or any recreational computer based activity, graphics form an integral part of everything.

Another most important use of the graphic cards is in the gaming. Although it is a recreational activity, it has gained immense importance and the market for high quality 3D graphic games is huge. Gamers need graphic cards which can display detailed visuals so 3D cards are highly in demand. Hence, the graphic cards are crucial for the success of the gaming industry as well. Currently, big games are developed that can only be run if the system has high performance graphic card. The market leaders in manufacturing the high quality graphic cards include NIVIDIA, ATI and AMD. Best cards by these companies include the NIVIDIA GeForce GTX 680, AMD’s Radeon HD 7850 2 GB and ATI Radeon X1950 Pro. As far as gaming is concerned, NIVIDIA cards are the most selling ones. However, AMD is a close competitor.

PC Video Card
Although currently high quality image delivering single cards can be found in the market, the card performance can also be enhanced by adding another card to the system but such high visuals are usually required by serious gamers. A home computer performs fine with a built in graphics unit as well.

The graphic cards are no longer limited to computers alone; they are applied to micro applications as well which include notebooks, gaming consoles like PlayStation, digital cameras and mobile phones too. Hence, it can be predicted that in the coming future, we’ll be seeing much of better and improved graphic chips.

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