What are GPU’s? (A Beginner’s guide)

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Welcome computer enthusiasts, in today’s guide we will introduce you with one of the most important computer parts that exist today. And that part is the graphics card, mostly popular today thanks too to its capabilities for gaming that most gamers are harvest, the graphic cards stands for a lot more use, than just video games. And we are going to explain everything you all the basics you need to know about them, their history, design, types of them, everything you will need so you can finally meet and understand what a graphic card is.

Table of Contents

What are Graphic card’s

A graphics card or also called a video card is an expansion card which generates a feed of output images to a display device. Or In simple words a graphics card is the component responsible for displaying all the images you see on the screen. It is mainly known for its capabilities in in-game processing but lately, it is more and more used in creative production and things like artificial intelligence. For you to see the image on the screen, the device has to display more than a couple of million pixels, and the computer has to put each one in order so it can create an image. TO do this, the computer needs a translator, and that device is the graphics card. A graphics card’s job is complex, but its principles and components are easy to understand.

Quick History of Graphic cards

With the fast and rapid research of computer technology, the research and need for a better graphics card evolved with those thoughts too. The need for a commercial design and type so it could be available to the masses, not only the richest people on the planet.

At the beginning some standards such as MDA, CGA, HGC, Tandy, PGC, EGA, VGA, MCGA, QuickDraw, 8514 or XGA were introduced from 1982 to 1990 and supported by a variety of hardware manufacturers.

In the late 1980s the like of Radius offered discrete 2D QuickDraw Graphic accelerator cards for the Apple Macintosh II.[6]

3dfx Interactive was one of the first companies to develop a consumer-facing GPU with 3D acceleration (with the Voodoo series) and the first to develop a graphical chipset dedicated to 3D, but without 2D support (which therefore required the presence of a 2D card to work). Now the majority of modern graphics cards are built with either AMD-sourced or Nvidia-sourced graphics chips. Until 2000, 3dfx Interactive was also an important, and often groundbreaking, manufacturer. Most graphics cards offer various functions such as the accelerated rendering of 3D scenes and 2D graphics, MPEG-2/MPEG-4 decoding, TV output, or the ability to connect multiple monitors (multi-monitor). Graphics cards also have sound card capabilities to output sound – along with the video for connected TVs or monitors with integrated speakers.

Within the industry, graphics cards are sometimes called graphics add-in-boards, abbreviated as AIBs, with the word “graphics” usually omitted.

In the 1981. IBM developed their first two video cards, the MDA (Monochrome Display Adapter) and CGA (Color Graphics Adapter), in 1981. The MDA had 4 KB of video memory and the CGA had 16 KB of video memory. After that event the next year lead to the Hercules research Computer Technology which developed the HGC (Hercules Graphics Card), their answer to IBM’s video cards. Hercules took the MDA standard from IBM and combined it with bitmapped graphics, and set the HGC with 64 KB of video memory. The next couple of years presented a fast race between the rival companies to produce a better graphics card.IN 1983 Intel entered the video card market by introducing the iSBX 275 Video Graphics Multimodule in 1983. It was capable of displaying eight colors and a 256 x 256 resolution.

1984 was marked with the release of the EGA-or Enhanced Graphics Adapter. How the years passed, the capabilities rose to. ATI introduced their first VGA video card, the ATI VGA Wonder. Some VGA Wonder cards even featured a mouse port for mouse connectivity. The evolution continued all the way till the 2000’s where the ATI introduced the Radeon R100 series video cards in 2000, beginning a long-lasting legacy of the Radeon line of video cards. The first Radeon video cards were fully DirectX 7 compatible and featured ATI’s HyperZ technology. From that period the research and capabilities rope up to an exponential level and lead us to the graphic cards we have today.

Types of Graphic cards

After introducing you with the answers on questions what are they and explaining you a brief history, we are going to talk about the types that exist today. They can be categorized in three main groups:

1. Integrated GPUs

Integrated graphics cards are graphics cards that are, as the name implies, integrated with a CPU. They are present in many modern CPUs. You will be able to recognize them by the Intel HD label and a number next to them, for example, Intel HD graphics 6000 or Intel HD Graphics.

Generally, they have much worse performance than dedicated GPUs. However, they are used for general computing and casual everyday use. You will be able to use basic applications for communicating, text editing and browsing the internet.

Newer models will support 4K video watching, but they will struggle to play high-end games and process more demanding tasks (ex., video editing, 3d modelling etc.). Integrated GPUs are most commonly found in budget laptops and desktop PCs. 

There are several benefits of integrated GPUs:

  • Low energy consumption
  • Small size
  • Affordability

Although they didn’t have a good reputation in the past, now they are considered a viable choice for general computing and casual everyday use.

2. Dedicated GPUs

Dedicated graphics cards have greater computing power which translates to better gaming performance, faster rendering and tasks related to machine learning! The higher the performance card has, the better it will perform the given tasks. 

As the quality of the card increases, there will be visible improvements to gaming performance. The change can be seen in terms of image quality and the FPS. 

FPS is the unit at which consecutive images being displayed on the screen are perceived. The more consecutive images are displayed, the better the frame rate. The most common frame rate is around 30fps. 

In gaming, however, the most common rate is 60fps. For some playing under 60 would result in games feeling choppy. The other minor downsides are higher energy expenditure, and heating up fast, but this can be countered by getting a good fan. 

By now, it should be clear that these GPUs offer higher performance than integrated ones, but they are more expensive as well. 

3. Workstation graphics cards

There is not much to be said about workstation GPUs that would concern an average user. They are designed and configured to run different applications than other GPUs. Being designed differently makes them aimed at entirely different types of consumers. Generally, they do not benefit most students or average consumers. They are specialized to run animation and video production software. 

Unless you work as a Pixar animator, it is most likely that you won’t benefit from them.

Modern Graphic cards

rtx gpu

Today’s graphics card market depends and leans on two major manufacturing companies. Those are Nvidia and AMD, their research technology lead us to the era where we can all play and experience the newest gaming titles, and be a part of this technological era where you can find yourself playing a game that sometimes looks even better than real life.

Those effects and possibilities are offered by the newest video cards that those two companies have given us. Although graphics cards are primarily marketed as (and in some cases designed) for gaming, their capabilities extend much further. Those who use their PCs for complex tasks such as 3D rendering, game development, and video editing will understand the benefit provided by faster GPUs. Demanding editing software such as Adobe Premiere Pro use the GPU to speed up processing, which makes for faster and more efficient workflows.

Specifically designed workstation GPUs are optimized for these applications, and their drivers are created to be stable and reliable when executing tasks. Professional grade graphics cards can be immensely powerful, although they are often more expensive than even high-end gaming GPUs, they weren’t designed specifically for gaming workloads, meaning they shouldn’t be your first choice for a gaming PC.

Ray Tracing

Its not essential for modern day gaming, but will with no doubt represent the future of gaming. Ray tracing is a technology which is able to replicate the real-life behavior of light rays in-game, so creating an almost flawless realistic effect. Making the game you are playing the most realistic and immersive as it can be. This feature not only provides a far superior experience for gamers, it allows game developers to create better and more immersive games. With such technology already available, there’s no telling how far it could go.

ray tracing

One of the downsides of this technology is that right now, today, the prices for getting a card and computer with this options is kind-a  expensive and not available to everyone. But as the technology evolves, it will be a causal everyday player experience in the near future(we hope so).

V-ram and its importance

V-ram refers to Random access memory (RAM), which aims to ensure smooth graphics display. It is essential for video games or 3D graphic design programs. In gaming, it is responsible for shortening load times and, most importantly, improving image quality. 

Certain levels of VRAM are necessary for modern games to run at different resolutions. For example, rendering a game at 1080p is different from rendering a game at 4k resolution (which requires more graphical memory).

These days, 4 GB of VRAM is more than enough for 1080p gaming. However, those computer geeks and gamers that want to experience high definition and ultra HD resolutions should opt for 8 GB of VRAM. Depending on how much V-ram you have, this is the performance you can expect in gaming and video editing.

Conclusion on today’s topic

rtx on mc

We have learned what are graphic cards and how do they work, their history and importance nowadays. With all this said, the next time someone brings up the theme about video cards, you will fully understand what are they and how did they affect our lives today, not just only connecting them to games and that’s all. Knowing a little bit about the things that surround us is very important, especially the things that we use every day.

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