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Table Of Contents  CertiGuide to A+ (A+ 4 Real)
 9  Chapter 9: Graphic Cards
      9  Graphic Card Types and Functions

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Polygon Rendering and Fill Rates
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Understanding 3D Graphics and Functions

The advent of 3D cards has caused a change in the way graphics cards are manufactured. Previously, manufacturers were split into two camps. Firstly, companies such as Matrox designed and manufactured their own graphics cards from the ground up. The second group, containing companies such as Elsa, purchased 3rd party chipsets that they subsequently integrated into their own products. As a rule, companies who designed their own cards usually produced a better quality product with greater stability and performance.

This all changed when NVidia et al arrived on the scene. On Wednesday 1st September 1999, NVidia announced the arrival of its revolutionary GeForce256 card with the following press release:

"NVidia has announced its GeForce 256 GPU (Graphics Processing Unit), formerly referred to as the NV10. The chip will feature over 23 million transistors and a 350 MHz RAMDAC. It is capable of DVD playback up to the top 1080i DTV standard in with no problems. It supports up to 128 MB of RAM, 4x AGP, and resolution of up to 2048x1536 at up to 75 Hz."

The GeForce256 was a monster in its time. Here are some of the more relevant statistics, taken from an archive of discussions at the time:

  • 15M triangles/sec with sustained DMA. All transformed, clipped and lit.

  • 4 Parallel rendering pipelines giving four pixels per clock. Clocked at 120 MHz at launch but likely to come out in faster flavors soon.

  • 480M pixels/sec fill rate - 32 texture samples per clock, free 8 sample anisotropic texture filtering.

  • 480M texels/sec texturing rate.

  • 8 lights in hardware.

  • 350 MHz RAMDAC.

  • Support nearly all features DirectX7 and OpenGL, transform & lighting, cubic environment mapping, projective textures and texture compression.

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