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Game Development Dictionary


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A company that used to make the Voodoo series of 3D accelerator cards. Notable for its innovations (SLI mode) as well as arcade hardware (some of Midway's arcade machines, including Hydro Thunder and Gauntlet Legends, were basically PCs running souped-up 3dfx cards). After a number of disappointments following the voodoo3 series, they (and their proprietary graphics API, GLIDE) were purchased by NVidia in 2000.


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.


Basic Input/Output System The part of a PC that manages communications between CPU and peripherals. The BIOS is, in most cases, embedded in a EEPROM (rewritable memory ROM). The BIOS manage the first reads on the disk drive, to boot, for instance.


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.

Cable Modem

An internet service which transmits data through a thick cable to the consumer; naturally, this means that a lot of data can be transmitted quickly. Though the technology itself has no self-imposed limits -- other than the maximum speed possible for transmission -- cable companies often place maximum speeds on the internet connections, since people generally don't need much upload speed. This is in the best interest of the consumer, because it allows everyone to have fair access to the total amount of speed available to the company.

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


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


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.


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.


CGA - Color Graphics Array IBM defined graphic card. Created to provide color graphic (4 colored modes 320x200, 'hacked' 16 colored mode 160x100).


Systems designed specifically for playing video games. Currently consoles would include the Sony Playstation, Nintendo N64 and Sega Dreamcast.


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.


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.


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


The latest console from Sega. (WWW)


The Sega Dreamcast is the last console of Sega Enterprises, which was released in 1998 in Japan and 1999 in North-America and Europe. Since 2000 various freeware games are available thanks to the open source and free development kit KallistiOS. The Dreamcast is the one and only videogame console which makes it possible due the free development libraries like SDL to create software legal without using any Sega libraries. Three commercial games without Sega licence were released 2003 and 2004 this way. Still, there are publishers like www.dreamcast-scene.com or www.goatstore.com who even help out single programmers to release their software commercially on CD.


DVD (Digital Versatile Disk) DVD storage capacity is: 17 Gbyte DVD delivers the data at a higher rate than CD-ROM. This technology could replace the Video Cassett tape due to the high quality of the sound and video. Unlike video cassett tapes, DVDs do not degrade in picture quality over time.


EGA - Enhanced Graphics Array IBM defined graphic card. Followup to CGA. Provides up to 16 colors out of a palette of 64.

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.


Floating Point Unit. The unit that compute all floating point types. For Intel Processors series, until the 80486 (1992), the FPU was dissociated from the main Processor (x87 series).


A handheld game console created by Nintendo. A second, smaller version was later released. This was the Gameboy Pocket. A third model was called the Gameboy Color. Recently another, more powerful version called the Gameboy Advance was released.


A videogame system created by Nintendo. Released in November 2001.


General Protection Fault - CPU error which can be intercepted by the OS to perform different tasks or generate an error. Can be caused by: - a process who violated its assigned resources and tried to access a resource which it was not granted (often unavailable memory due to pointer errors). - a process who tried to acces memory in a lower ring (higher priority, usually kernel memory) The GPF can also be used for memory swapping - the OS catches the GPF involved in reading a memory page which is in the swap file so it loads it into RAM and then resumes execution. Usually a GPF results in a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) in Windows

Graphics Card

A card which processes graphics for a computer. * A graphics card is given an image in digital form. The card then takes care of converting the digital data and squirting down a cable into a monitor or TV in their preferred analog[ue] form. Modern cards also provide some features which help speed the creation of an image by the computer. For instance, most now have blitters which speed up copying rectangular chunks of memory around from A to B.

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.