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Graphic Card Theory

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I might be way over my head here but I need to do a paper for a computer organization class and was thinking about doing it on the internal workings of graphic cards. 1) How they deal/move/change graphic data internally 2) Perhaps some performance issues 3) and maybe the explanation of a few buzz words (cineFX,etc) I really don''t even know where to start on this (as in what to type into google) If anyone has a direction they could point me in I would be very much thankful!

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2D only or 3D ? More from a hardware or software point of view ?

Assuming hardware: The block diagram of a modern gfx card isn''t that complex. Pretty much everything (but the RAM) is intergrated into the GPU. You have the memory, the processor itself, AGP interface, bus transceivers, D/A converter, a few amps, power regulation, system sync clock. Everything connected by different bus systems. That''s pretty much it from a high level point of view.

Now, if you want to go lower level, eg. in the inner workings of the GPU, then it''s going to be really complex. I don''t know the target audience for your presentation, but you''ll have to assume a very strong knowledge about microelectronics in this case (bus data synchronisation and transfer timing, DSP microcoding, memory access and refresh timing, parallel data processing, video signal composition, etc). Note that as this level, you might very soon run into legal and intellectual property issues of the chipset manufacturer.

Assuming software: Easier, of course. You can outline the general steps required to build an image, eg. pixel flow, memory layouts, MPEG decompression, 3D pipeline, etc.

So, what do you want to do ?

/ Yann

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I came across these two articles a couple weeks ago. Not sure if they will give you the kind of information you are looking for, but here they are, just incase.

The first is a breakdown of the ATI Radeon 9700 Pro. The articles discusses a bit about the cards architecture before it finishes in endless performance comparisons.

The second is a tour of ATI and NVIDIA, which deals more with the building of the cards than the actual architecture. Maybe you can pull something useful out of it.

Hopefully one of those will help in some way.


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Simple Hardware:
We have covered gerneral computer connection with CPU, Memory, PCI bus, etc so I assume this is very similar at a higher level withe the GPU of a graphic card.

Complex Hardware:
I wouldn''t want to get to technically tied to a single GPU i guess. I far as I can see, there doesn''t seem to be much educational value of detailing timing diagrams of a certain graphics card. I guess I would rather like to understand a general theory of something (figuring as the class is just a general computer organization class).

I guess you caught my interest here. I would like to do some serious game programming someday and it would be nice to know how certian commands are working at a very basic level.

Could anyone give me any sites that deal with this sort of thing. I sure will search on the topics described above under software but a general overiew of some sorts would help to begin me on my way.

Thank you for taking the time to give me an idea of where to go with such a huge topic!


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Try searching here: I think they have a nice article about video cards and AGP bus.

No matter where you go... &this

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A few links that might be of help to you.

Manticore - Open Source 3d accelerator - VHDL - not complete yet.

Some Assorted video cores:
go to projects and show all browse through some of the video stuff.

Microsoft DDK - Driver development kit.

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