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Video Card

Your system's video card is the component responsible for producing the visual output from your computer. Early on, the video card only had to display text—not even in color, at that. Video cards today are much more like coprocessors. They have their own intelligence and do a lot of processing that would otherwise have to be done by the system processor. This is a necessity due to the enormous increase both in how much data we send to our monitors today and the sophisticated calculations that must be done to determine what we see on the screen. This is particularly so with the rise of the graphical OS, 3D computing, and gaming.

Unaccelerated and Accelerated Video Cards

Older video cards did simple translations only. They were rather dumb in that they could only take what the processor created and send it to the monitor. The processor did all of the work of deciding what would be displayed. This was fine for older environments, such as DOS, and especially for text-based output, where the amount of information involved was small. When graphical OSs such as Windows became the norm, suddenly large amounts of data were being shuffled around on the screen. The CPU was spending a lot of time moving windows around and drawing boxes, cursors, and frames. As a result, the processor would often get bogged down, and performance would decrease dramatically.


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