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Table Of Contents  CertiGuide to A+ (Core Hardware)
 9  Chapter 1000:  Multimedia
      9  III  Video Cards

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Color Depth

The number of variants of intensity you can produce in any one of these three dots is known as the color depth of the image display.

The color depth is determined by the number of bits per pixel that can be used to create these variants of intensity.

For example, standard VGA mode has a 16-color palette, which requires 4 bits (2^4 = 16) of memory per pixel.

Some video cards can support True Color mode, which uses 24 or 32 bits per pixel.

In 24-bit True Color mode, each pixel can display 16,777,216 different colors.

In 32-bit True Color mode, each pixel can display 4,294,967,296 colors.

This is approaching the ridiculous as the human eye can only differentiate slightly more than 1,000,000,000 different colors. 32-bit True Color mode is simply a waste of memory.

[spacer]Calculating Color Depth

For those of you are into math it only takes some simple calculations to determine how much memory is needed to hold a particular display setting. For those who don't like math, follow along anyway as this can be a very eye opening experience. To determine the amount of memory required or particular display setting, use the following formula:

{(Horizontal Pixels * Vertical Pixels) * (Color Depth (in bits) / 8)} / 1,048,576 = MB's of RAM required for the display

Let's try this equation with a very common display setting of 1024x768 in True Color (24-bit):

{(1,024 * 768) * (24 / 8)} / 1,048,576 = 2.25 MB

This tells us using this display setting will require 2.25MB of memory to store all the color settings for each and every pixel that makes up the display. Let's try the same display size in 32-bit true color mode.

{(1,024*768) * (32 / 8)} / 1,048,576 = 3 MB


One final note. You may have noticed that these common display settings (1024 x 768, 800 x 600, and 640 x 480) can be distilled down to a 4:3 ratio. This expression is known as the aspect ratio of the display. The 4:3 aspect ratio is the most commonly used for image display.


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Image Display
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Accelerated vs. Unaccelerated
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