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Game Development Dictionary


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  Term Name Description

Hard Drive

A media storage device which is usually built into the computer tower, and serves as major storage space for programs and other data.


A device that can READ and WRITE data to CDs. With this device, data can be "Fixed" (replaced) on CDs to which data had once been burned. The CR-RW can only fix CDs that are REWRITABLE.


A device used to WRITE Compact Discs. This is also known as the "CD - BURNER," because it burns data onto the CD with a laser. CD-Rs cannot write data to CDs on which data have already been written.


The Central Processing Unit of a computer, also called the computer's "processor." The CPU acts as the computer's brain by performing important calculations and executing the commands found in a program.


XGA is a Monitor Graphics Type which contains 15-inch units with a native resolution of 1024x768 pixels.


RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks. Basically you can connect normal IDE drives onto your RAID controller and then select a mode for operation, most controllers at time of writting support 4 modes, stripping (RAID 0), Mirroring (RAID 1), stripping and Mirroring (RAID 0+1) as well as the SPAN mode.

To Use RAID 0 or 1 you need 2 hard drives (any normal IDE), and for 0+1 you need at least 4 drives, while for spanning you can have any number greater then 2.

RAID 1 impoves your proformence by turning your connected hard drives effectively into one large one, as well as sharing the work between them, which doubles the proformence of the drives.

RAID 0 creates and stores a on the fly copy of your first hard disk onto the seccond drive in case of failure.

RAID 0+1, you have a RAID 0 working which is backed up onto other drives which are running in RAID 1.

SPAN connects any number of drives >2 togethor so that they appear as one big drive, however it DOES NOT share work between them like RAID 0, so you don't get a proformence increase.


Programmable Interval Timer. A timer present in all PCs with a frequency of 1.193MHz (2^32/3600) with 3 outputs, channel 0 causing IRQ 0 (int 8), channel 1 for memory refresh and channel 2 for the PC Speaker.


LCD - Liquid Crystal Display. LCD screens are used widely among electronic devices. Probably the most common application of LCD screens, is in Digital Watches. How it works is as follows: Two sheets of clear plastic are pancaked together with a think lair of a substance called Liquid Crystal. When a voltage is applyed, it causes the liquid crystal to turn opaq.


The term given to a pixel in a monitor based on the red, green and blue components that make up each one. In other viewing devices, such as Head Mounted Displays, resolution is often given in triads instead of pixels.


Super Nintendo. (NES, Nintendo Entertainment System). Successor to the NES, this system was 16-bit and the reigning champion for its time period in consoles. (WWW)


An early production name for the IBM/ATI-based Nintendo GameCube.


The simplest form of interface the button either provides pressed or non-pressed information to the game. Buttons are usually used for action commands, such as punching, kicking, pressing the gas/break, or shooting.


An input device which consists of a button like surface which can usually move in 4 distinct directions and 4 more combinations and is almost exclusively hand-held. Usually used for giving directional information and comes with buttons for action input.


An input device which consists of a stick that comes up from a platform which can be hand-held or mounted onto a surface. Usually used for giving directional information and comes with buttons for action input.

Fill Rate

Used to describe the number of pixels a card can move onto into view, thus the screen. Often the fill rate is given with different qualfiers, such as textured, zbuffered, filtered pixels.


Sony Playstation.


Compact Disc. The current default media for distributing software to end users.


The latest console from Sega. (WWW)

Net Yaroze

A black Playstaton hobbyist's development kit (which also looks exactly like the regular Playstation & is made by Sony) that enables you to develop your own video games just for the Net Yaroze. But only members can participate. More information can be found at the following address: http://www.scea.sony.com/net/what.htm

Vertical Retrace

In a CRT, this is the time during which the electron gun is repositioning itself from the lower right to the upper left. It is during this time that proper page flipping is done, so that smooth, tear free animation can be done.


Cathode Ray Tube. A raster display consisting of an electron gun (Cathode) that fires charged particles (electrons) at a thin film of phosphorus, thus exciting the phosphor and causing it to emit light.


Accelerated Graphics Port. A specialized graphics port which gives a dedicated port between the display system and system memory, surpassing the Expansion Bus, for greater speed.


An advancement to Intel microprocessors which added 57 new instructions which are designed to handle video, audio, and graphical data more efficiently.


Million Instructions Per Second. Measurement of speed for processors.

Cache Memory

Cache Memory

The term cache refers to a fast intermediate memory within a larger memory system (Handy, 1993). Cache memory, utilized on machines such as the IBM System/360 Model 91 as early as 1968, was created to address the von Neumann bottleneck. Despite the efforts of engineers, early computer processors processed information much faster than they could access information from main memory. The low ratio of processor speed to memory access time in this case was so common on von Neumann machines that it became known as the von Neumann bottleneck (Baker, 1994). The introduction of cache memory, a special form of random access memory (RAM), helps to eliminate this bottleneck by providing one-cycle memory access to the processor (Hayes, 1998).

Cache memory serves as a buffer between a CPU and main memory (Hayes, 1998). Data and instructions located inside cache memory may be accessed significantly faster than data and instructions in main memory. Typically, the larger the cache, the faster the computer runs as a whole (Corporate Technology Direct, 1996).

Data words are stored within the cache data memory portion in small groups called cache blocks. Each cache block is additionally marked by a block address, called a tag. The collection of tag addresses are stored within the cache tag memory.

One common type of cache memory organization is called the "look-aside" cache, as shown in Figure 2. A look-aside cache allows both the cache and main memory to be directly connected to the system bus. In this design, the CPU firsts requests a block of memory from the cache. The cache (M1) then compares the incoming address to the tag addresses that currently exist in cache tag memory. If a match is found, a cache hit occurs. The CPU then accesses this memory directly, thus eliminating any involvement of M2. If a match is not found, a cache miss occurs. In the event of a cache miss, a block of memory in the cache is replaced with the desired block of memory which exists in main memory (M2). The process of replacing a block in cache memory with a block in main memory is done by first sending a request to main memory, which in turn transfers memory over the system bus. The transfer of memory from the cache to the CPU is much faster than the transfer of memory from main memory to the cache, which makes cache memory a good technique for speeding up data processing (Hayes, 1998).

Bibliography :

Baker, H.G. (1994, March). Linear logic and permutation stacks--the forth shall

be first. ACM sigarch computer archive, pp. 34-43.

Bruce, K.B. (1998). CS334 lecture 2 [lecture notes]. Williams College.

Corporate Technology Direct (1996). What is cache memory? Retrieved March 25, 1999 from the

World Wide Web: http://www.corporatetech.com/memory/cache_memory.html

Handy, J. (1993). The cache memory book. pp. 54-56.

Hayes, J.P. (1998). Computer architecture and organization. pp. 452-454.

Slater, M. (1997, August). AMD's K6 kicker. Computer shopper, pp. 562-563, 566