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Graphics Cards Bryan Duggan Overview Resolutions & memory What does a graphics card do? Features Texturing Anti-aliasing Ansiphromorphic filtering Bump mapping Z Buffering Benchmarking & diagnostics Manufacturers Low end cards Mid range cards High end cards Direct X Open GL AGP

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Graphics Cards

Bryan Duggan


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Overview

  • Resolutions & memory

  • What does a graphics card do?

  • Features

    • Texturing

    • Anti-aliasing

    • Ansiphromorphic filtering

    • Bump mapping

    • Z Buffering

  • Benchmarking & diagnostics

  • Manufacturers

  • Low end cards

  • Mid range cards

  • High end cards

  • Direct X

  • Open GL

  • AGP

  • PCI Express


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Terminology

  • Pixel – Picture element - the basic unit of programmable color on a computer display or in a computer image

  • Resolution – how many pixels wide and tall

  • Bit depth or colour depth or Bits per pixel – How many bits are required to represent a pixel

  • The larger the bit depth, the more colours can be represented


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BPP

  • 1 = Monochrome (0 = white, 1=black)

  • 4 = 16 colours

  • 8 = 256 colours (+ pallette)

  • 16 = 65536 colours (+ pallette)

  • 24 = 16M colours (true colour) red, green, blue

  • 32 = 16M colours (true colour) red, green, blue, transparency


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Display devices

  • CRT – Cathode Ray Tube

    • Maximum resolution

    • Refresh rate (min 60 Hz)

  • LCD – Liquid Crystal Display

    • Optimum resolution

    • Refresh rate is less important

    • Response time (<25ms for games)


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Resolutions & Memory

  • Originally, graphics memory was a factor of the resolution and colour depth supported

  • VGA 16 Colours @ 640 x 480 or 256 colours @ 320 x 200 x

  • SVGA 800 x 600

  • XGA 16 million colors @ 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768 @ 65,536

  • Super Extended Graphics Array (SXGA) and Ultra Extended Graphics Array (UXGA) 1280 x 1024 resolution

  • UXGA refers to a resolution of 1600 by 1200.

  • Palette info also stored



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Memory was a factor of resolution & pallet size

  • E.g. 16 colours can be represented by 4 bits therefore 4 BPP (or 1 nibble or .5 of a byte)

  • VGA 640 x 480 x .5 = 153600 = 150k

  • VGA 320 * 200 = 64000 = 62.5k

  • SVGA 800 * 600 * 2 (16 bits per pixel) = 960000 + pallet 196608 = 393216 = 384k

  • Nowadays graphics cards have a between 32MB Ram and 256Mb

  • So what is all the extra memory used for??



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What does a 3d graphics card do with all that memory!!

  • A 2d point can be represented by 2 numbers, X, Y

  • A 2d object is called a polygon. For example:

  • This can be easily manipulated by

  • Modifying the X, Y coords

  • Transformed

  • Scaled

  • Rotated

  • Etc.


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3d objects

  • A 3d point can be represented by 3 numbers, X, Y, Z

  • 3d polygons are made up of a number of 2d polygons

  • Usually triangles



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Primitives

  • Polygons are combined to make primitives.

  • Spheres

  • Cones

  • Cubes etc


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Textures

  • Textures are then applied to the models

  • Textures are just bitmaps drawn onto a 3d object to make them more realistic

  • Games support different size textures for graphics cards with different capeabilities


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Scenes

  • Games are set in virtual worlds known as scenes

  • Scenes can contain hundreds of 3d objects, thosands of polygons

  • A graphics card must render the scene at least 30 times per second to give the impression of fluid motion.

  • A typical scene from half life 2


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Transformation

  • Transformation involves taking position data as it's stored in a vertex structure and transforming it into a 'screenspace' position.

  • 'Screenspace' refers to the 2D plane that represents the viewer's window onto the world


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Lighting

  • Graphics cards also apply lighting effects to a scene, to create shadows in real time:


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Depth of vision

This can be used to optomise rendering. Faraway objects require less detail and therefore less work to render


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Z Buffering

  • Z-buffering is an algorithm used in 3-D graphics to ensure that perspective works the same way in the virtual world as it does in the real one: a solid object in the foreground will block the view of one behind it.


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Anti-aliasing

  • Adds intermediate pixels to reduce the staircase effect.

  • Up to 8 samples

  • Can slow down games, reducing frame rate



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Bump Mapping

  • Bump mapping is a technique used in graphics programs to produce the appearance of textured surfaces.

  • It works by altering the brightnesses of the pixels in specific patterns. The result is similar to that produced when light shines at an angle on a surface.

  • By means of bump mapping, a sphere can be made to look like an orange.

  • An apparently horizontal plane can be given the appearance of a pond with ripples, an asphalt parking lot, or a grassy lawn. Bump mapping is used in gaming programs to produce the illusion of relief.



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Graphic Card Companies

  • In 1998 there were more than 50 companies developing graphics chips

  • Today this number is much smaller

  • NVIDIA and ATI are two of the largest graphic card companies around now

  • NVIDIA and ATI are rivals that are always fighting for market share, and this is good for the end-user


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Video Card Needs

  • Main categories of computer usage:

    • Casual computing

    • Graphic design

    • Light gaming

    • Heavy gaming


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Casual Computing

  • Word processing, web browsing, watching a DVD, listening to music

  • Video card should support:

    • 32-bit colour depth – allows the display of over 16.7 million colours

    • 1280 x 1024 colour depth resolution

    • 85 Hz refresh rate – reduces eye fatigue over extended usage

    • ATI Radeon 9200 or NVIDIA GeForceFX 5200 processors


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Graphic Design

  • Video card should support the following:

  • 1600 x 1200 depth resolution

  • Multi-monitor support - allows the card to support two computer displays at once, expanding the graphical workspace

  • For video editing

    • Video in/video out (VIVO) – allows a video source to be plugged into the computer for digitizing of analog video sources such as TV or VHS tapes as well as exporting a video signal back to those devices.


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Light Gaming

  • Games that use 3D graphics acceleration

  • NVIDA GeForceFX 5700 and ATI Radeon 9600 are both excellent processors since they both support:

    • AGP 8x

    • DirectX 9

    • 128 MB VRAM


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Heavy Gaming

  • ATI Radeon 9800 and NVIDIA GeForceFX 5900 processors support:

    • DirectX 9

    • 128 MB of VRAM

    • 256 MB of memory for future game support


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ATI Graphics Processors

  • The R350 graphics processor is the direct successor to the R300 and is used in the highperformance Radeon 9700 line of graphics cards

  • The R350 is similar to the R300 in some ways:

    • They both use the 0.15 micron chip process

    • They both have 8 pixel pipelines and a 256 bit memory bus


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ATI Graphics Processors

  • The R350 has advantages over the R300:

    • Increased clock speed

    • Pixel and vertex shader code

    • Refined and optimised Z-buffer code

  • There are three versions of the Radeon 9800 cards based on the R350 core:

    • Radeon 9800 w/128 MB

    • Radeon 9800 Pro w/128 MB

    • Radeon 9800 Pro w/256 MB


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ATI Graphics Processors

  • The RV350 is ATI’s mid-range chip

  • RV350 uses the new 0.13 micron chip

  • Improved performance of the pixel and vertex shaders

  • 4 pixel pipelines

  • 128-bit memory bus

  • Used in the Radeon 9600 and Radeon Pro 9600 boards


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ATI Graphics Processors

  • The Radeon 9200 are ATI’s value boards

  • They use the same features and functions of the older RV250, but now includes an AGP 8x compatible interface

  • Supports DirectX 8.1 pixel and vertex shaders so has limited future potential as more and more games are developed around DirectX 9


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NVIDIA Graphics Processors

  • The GeForceFX 5600 boards based on the NV31 core are part of NVIDIA’s mid-range of boards

  • Performance of the GeForceFX 5600 Ultra boards is 25% faster than GeForce 4600 boards

  • Fully compatible with DirectX 9 and has the same vertex and pixel shaders as the 6800 Ultra processor


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NVIDIA Graphics Processors

  • The NVIDIA budget range also has a fully DirectX 9 compliant video board with the same graphics features as the higher end processors

  • The NV34 based GeForceFX 5200 is built on a 0.15 micron chip

  • Performance features such as colour and z-compression are absent from these boards


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Benchmarking

  • 3d Mark 2001

  • 3d Mark 2003

  • Aquamark

  • Quake 3

  • Unreal tournament

  • DXDIAG

  • Sis Soft Sandra


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DirectX

  • an application program interface (API) for creating and managing graphic images and multimedia effects in applications

  • Windows Only

  • Currently at Version 9.0b

  • Allows programs written to the DirectX standard to work with a variety of hardware

  • Use DXDIAG to diagnose problems


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OpenGL

  • Silicon Graphics, DEC, Intel, IBM, Microsoft, and Sun Microsystems

  • Open, cross platform Standard


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Game types

  • FPS – First Person Shooter

  • TPS – Third Person Shooter

  • RTS – Real Time Strategy

  • MMORPG – Massivly Multi-player Online Role Playing Game

  • Turn Based Strategy

  • Guess the following titles and their genres:


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