Video Card

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A video card (graphics card) is an expansions card which allows images to be displayed to an output display through generating feed from the computer. A video card usually refers to an external module that can be attached to the expansion slot of a motherboard, and not mixing up with between an integrated graphics processor embedded in motherboards & processors. Modern day graphic cards now usually are created and developed by AMD or Nvidia board chips. Either provides necessary functions to output video to a display along with rendering 2D and 3D environments, MPEG encoding and usually can connect multiple monitors.

Technology

The modern video card usually connects to an available PCI-e x16 expansion slot on a motherboard, but this was not always the case before then. The AGP (accelerated graphics port) was the predecessor to the PCI-e to form to graphic cards during that time. Because a graphics card has to draw output at a high frequency per second, performance for its processor (graphics processing unit to be exact) is crucial. While each video card developer provide its own algorithms, there are many cores to a GPU (less with Nvidia because of its linear increase in algorithm efficiency). For every higher model/end of a graphics card in a series, there are usually more cores than its previous unless an entire series gets introduced (i.e. the Nvidia GTX 700 series to replace the GTX 600 series).

Because of the overwhelming power of a graphics card, the power demand of one is also high. Although, more modern graphic cards can operate at faster speeds and provide the same or less thermal design power (TDP) than its predecessor. The TDP for the Nvidia’s GeForce GTX TITAN is 250 watts per card. Inside a ‘enthusiast’ computer, the graphics card will tend to take much of the power provided by the power supply, more than the CPU itself. CPU and power supply manufacturers are creating higher efficiency rates to also play along with the rise of Video Cards, but the main bottleneck (any component/spec inside a computer or component that slows down other components/the computer itself) is the PCI-Express expansion slot itself. Most low end video cards tend to have a much slower bandwidth speed that transports data across channels, which requires better specifications to be faster and thus, higher end video cards. The motherboard also supplies power to graphic cards, but only to lower end models. Higher end models may take up 1 6-pin PCI-E power connection (some power supplies can come with this) or 2 8-pin PCI-E power connection cables (and once again, certain power supplies can come with this).

Although, certain ‘enthusiasts’ may find a single video card lacking in their favor of performance. Nvidia and AMD have made their newer cards so that they can co-operate with each other, allowing the functionality of adding more than one video card in a single computer. The codename for this on Nvidia’s side is called ‘SLI’, while AMD’s is called ‘CrossfireX’. This is done only by inserting the exact model including brand and manufacturer of the certain video card, requiring a motherboard with 2 PCI-Express x16 expansion slots and a ‘data bridge cable’ that interlinks the two video cards, in which usually comes with a video card that can be bridged with one another. Only higher end models are available to be bridged or any models that does not have a data connections available on top of the card. In current day (2014), the most video cards connected to a single computer available to the consumers market is four video cards.

All Video Cards also comes with built in RAM which usually span from 512MB to 12GB (as of 2014, from the new Nvidia GeForce TITAN Z supplied with 12Gb of GDDR5 RAM). Because video cards demand much more power than the CPU or RAM of the computer itself, modern day graphic cards require special memory. Manufacturers have moved from DDR, DDR2, then eventually ATI created GDDR3 which allows a strobe like signal for faster read & write speeds than DDR technology. JEDEC eventually worked on their own and created GDDR4 and GDDR5, which is the current memory technology. Video Memory are mainly used for storing other data than just the screen image, especially in 3D graphics, textures, buffering and shader programs.

Output Connectors

Many output connectors exists for video output, and usually connects from the video card/integrated unit to a monitor, TV or etc. Most modern graphic cards can support DVI, HDMI and VGA connection (usually DVI and HDMI in more expensive rigs, since they are completely digital, thus, higher quality). Cable connectors sticking out of Video Cards and output devices (monitors, TV, etc.) usually have a ‘male’ connector end unlike most connectors usually connects from female to male (or vice versa) making Video connectors all female (except for legacy ones).

Video Graphics Array

A Video Graphics Array adapter (VGA, or D-sub) is a video adapter that’s based on an analog signal, creating during the late 1980’s for CRT displays. There are problems with the technology though, like noise, distortion in image and sampling problems. In modern day, the VGA can handle 1080p and higher in some cases. When using a VGA with a LCD monitor, the image quality is not at its full potential.

Digital Visual Interface (DVI)

The Digital Visual Interface (DVI) cable are mainly used in LCDs and high definition displays. Since it is completely digital, analog problems like noise and distortion. Most monitor manufacturer’s include a DVI cable along with their monitor along with a VGA cable for the sake of convenience.

High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI)

The High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is a completely digital video data transport cable used to transfer video digital audio. Several models can also transport ethernet (network) signals and provide power). Although, it is an alternative to DVI, it provides no difference other than the added features and self-snapping locks.

DisplayPort

The DisplayPort is another alternative to digital video data transport cables (DVI and HDMI). Like all the other video cables, DisplayPorts can be connected to a LCD monitor or other digital output devices. The cable retains some features like the HDMI cable, it can transfer audio, includes self-snapping locks along as other forms of data. Display ports were made to be royalty free, different than to their counterpart HDMI. DisplayPort however, was only meant to be available along with video output sources, but not to replace HDMI.

Computers | Hardware


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