If you are currently here reading this blog, there are chances you may have Googled to inquire a bit about what a GPU is. And you may have gone through zillions of blogs only to be disappointed to look for a simplistic explanation.
Do worry not! This blog is going to satisfy you just like a glass of water does to a thirsty tongue. So, let’s start exploring the world of GPUs to ensure you don’t have to look for them on the internet anymore. And yeah, I promise you, it’s going to be super simple and informative.
What Is A GPU?
GPU, which is short for Graphics Processing Unit, is a synonym for Graphics Card. It is composed of multiple components each of which is assigned to function in a systematic manner.
A graphics card has thousands of small cores to run the visual operations of your computer. There are tons of names for these small cores including Stream Processors and what not.
While it comes built-in with computers for the very basic task of Windows screening, you may require a heavier one to perform better visual and video tasks. Still blurry about the concept of a graphics card? Let me get straightforward here! A graphics card is responsible for the visual creativity of a computer’s brain. Simple enough, no?
What Does A Graphics Card Do?
It’s one of the most significant hardware components of a computer for its graphical functioning. In other words, no computer can afford to run high-end visuals without a GPU. All the images that you see on your Monitor are rendered by a GPU backed by a complex mathematical calculation.
A graphics card processes the high-end visuals to ensure you get the best experience without compromising the quality. It enhances the visual experience to provide one with extreme quality imagery.
Uses Of GPUs
When it comes to a better understanding of the services provided by a GPU, it could be many. Apart from the traditional usage of a GPU, it is also used to enhance the quality of business-related tasks. GPUs have been used in Crypto Mining simply because they have proved to be way more efficient than their counterparts.
And, Yeah! You guessed it right! All the high-end graphics computer games that you have played in the past were supported by the GPU of your computer. You cant even think of enjoying a video game’s graphics without having a GPU installed on your computer.
Historically, GPUs have been used for video editing for better outcomes. While many software uses CPUs for basic tasks, many of today’s video software rely on heavier GPUs for defined presets. Adobe Premiere Pro is a fine example of one such software to render videos.
Graphics Card Types
There are two types of GPUs commonly used by the PC community more often than others. That’s why we will only stick to covering these two major ones.
When it comes to an Integrated Card, it is more about power-sharing between a GPU and a CPU than anything else. And yeah, this comes without affecting the main operations of a PC. This type of graphics card comes built into the computer’s processor. If your use of a computer is limited to not-so-heavy tasks like browsing, using lightweight software or applications, you are advised to go with Integrated Graphics Cards.
Although it all may sound too simplistic, an integrated card comes with a few drawbacks. These drawbacks are about the relatively weak performance and processing of handling of high-end visuals. You can’t expect a CPU-supported integrated card to process some of the best visuals just like a dedicated card does.
The card allows your computer to perform very basic tasks in no time. Including the list of these tasks could be playing lightweight games that require no or less operational effort from the CPU. While this type of card relies on the CPU, its less use of power is what makes it cost-effective.
Unlike the Integrated Card, a dedicated Graphics Card comes separately and doesn’t rely on a CPU for better performance delivery. Although known for better operational functioning, a dedicated card uses more power than any other type of GPU card.
It uses its own memory to store the potential data without being in touch with the CPU. Apart from that, the card also relies on its cooling system to ensure the hardware remains immune to heat-related issues. If you want to play heavy games on your computer without compromising the graphics quality or jamming your computer, a dedicated card should be your first choice.
Using a dedicated card means less burden on your CPU and more efficiency at the cost of more money. Overall, in order to enhance your experience, you should get your hands on a dedicated card.
History Of GPUs
The successor to the Video Graphics Adapter (VGA), GPU has been busy in the service of humanity for decades. Prior to IBM’S invention of the VGA, the same company’s Enhanced Graphics Adapter (EGA), Color Graphics Card (CGC), and Monochrome Display Adapter (MDA) dominated the video display market back in the early 1980s.
Over the years, the GPU evolved from just a colored video graphics card to one that could perform all the visual tasks. Recognizing the video graphics revolution in the world of PCs, NVIDIA appeared at the stage of the global market by throwing the first-ever GPU in 1997 called the GeForce 256. Thus, the PC developers got their first GPU and the video game players couldn’t be happier.
|1981||IBM||Introduced Monochrome Display Adapters|
|1981||IBM||Color Graphics Card made an entry to the global PC market|
|1984||IBM||Enhanced Graphics Adapter came into being|
|1987||IBM||Presented the Video Graphics Adapter|
|1990||ATI Technologies||Introduced ATI Wonder|
|1996||3dfx Interactive||Presented voodoo1 Graphics Chip|
|1997||3dfx Interactive||Introduced voodoo2 Graphics Chip|
|1997||NVIDIA||Introduced RIVA 128|
|1997||NVIDIA||Unveiled The GeForce 256|
|2000||NVIDIA||Introduced GeForce 8000 GTX|
|2009||ATI Technologies||Colossal Radeon HD 5970 Dual-GPU|
Components And Parts Of A GPU
While up until now your confusion about the GPU may have been cleared, there are a few things to know about the major components of a graphics card. Decoding the anatomy of a graphics card would help you understand the ways it works. Believe me, a graphics card is a technological masterpiece hinting to us about the epic brains of the human species.
Just like the human memory system, a GPU’s memory chip is its core component allowing it to store complex data and operate accordingly. This so-called complex data is all about the textures used to process the high visuals on a computer screen.
The image processing through memory involves a contact between Random Access Memory and Digital to Analog Converter (RAMDAC) which is mainly responsible for generating the high-end graphics.
You can’t think of having a GPU without a proper heat exit system. In other words, there is no such thing as a graphics card with no internal cooling system to release the heat to make sure no part of the hardware is affected by the heat. Every other GPU these days has a built-in heat sink supported by a fan.
Both of these components team up to cool down the temperatures of the GPU. While the heatsink takes away the heat from surrounding components, the fan’s job is to blow the air onto the heatsink to keep it cool and functioning.
Graphics processor is possibly the central component of a graphics card. Surrounded by hot temperatures more than any other part of a graphics card, a processor is associated with component clock speed and pixel shaders. Both the graphics card memory and the processor work together to deliver the high-definition visuals on a computer screen.
Video Memory Chips
These tiny yet more than half a dozen chips are crucial to the main functioning of the GPU. Starting from 128 MB, the chips could be extended to Gigabytes in size. While there are many types of such chips available in the market, the most used ones are the DDR2 and GDDR3. Both the DDR2 and GDDR3 do justice to the GPU and provide better operational capabilities to the GPU.
A card has at least a couple of outputs namely the Digital Video/Visual Interface and the VGA (D-Sub). So, what do the outputs do? Well, they allow you to connect more than one device to a graphics card. Let’s know a bit about each of them down below.
Sprayed blue, the Video Graphics Adapter could be recognized by multiple pins supported slots. A VGA D-Sub can be connected to projectors and high-definition TVs. It is mainly used to ensure better signal delivery for ultra HD results.
The Digital Video Interface comes in a similar shape to the D-Sub but with very different functionality. It connects a display to a desktop. However, most modern GPUs feature dual DVI to connect two displays to a desktop. So, the more a card is modern or newer, the better its features.
Although not used by so many these days, HDMI connectors are necessary to get high-definition results in various formats. Basically an output, it supports both high-end video and audio features using the same slot.
Graphics Card Interface
Connecting both the computer and the graphics card through a motherboard, an interface is among the primary components of a GPU. From the PCI Express slots connecting a card to the motherboard to the AGP and the ancient ISA slots that once used to do the same job, the interface has gone through quite a bit of evolution over the years. Jump to the following content to explore the GPU interfaces and their features.
Currently, PCI Express high-speed serial computer bus or slot has become an integral part of the GPU industry for its truly impressive data transfer capacity. As a standard slot system used by the GPU community more often than other ones, the PCI Express card bus/ slot offers better features than its counterparts like AGP, PCI, and PCI X.
If you want a higher data transfer at a rate like no other, PCI Express is all you need. What’s their rapid data transfer secret? It’s a couple of sets of wires attached to a PCI Express for receiving and sending the signals. Each set of wires consists of two wires called lanes enhancing the slot’s capacity to transmit data faster. And the data transfer speed? It’s more than 8GB for both up and down speeds.
PCI And PCI X
Gone are the days when PCI and PCI X buses used to dominate the PC industry. PCI and PCI X slots were used to perform the same tasks but with different operational capabilities. Notably, a PCI graphics card using a 16-bit wide PCI slot could offer a bandwidth of 133 MB/s. Whereas, a PCI X card would offer a bandwidth of 4,266 MB/s with a 64-bit wide slot. Yeah, I am getting you, that’s a whopping data transfer speed.
AGP or Accelerated Graphics Port differs from other traditionally used PCI buses in some of the functionality. For instance, a PCI slot could be shared, while an AGP slot could not be. As per the tech-gurus, this allows AGP buses to increase their clock speeds as compared to the PCI slots.
Once an ordinary slot with a speed of fewer than 270 MB/s, AGP has extended its fleet of slots with the addition of AGP 4x and AGP 8x. What’s the speed? It’s 2,1 GB/s for the AGP 8x. Here the 8x means it’s eight times faster and better than its ancestor AGP bus.
Installed right next to the SVGA Monitor Connector, Video BIOS displays the information about the speed and the voltage of the RAM. It also contains the graphics mode definitions and the operational firmware of the card. Despite being one of the smallest components in size, it’s still a crucial one for the GPU.
All Graphics Card Companies
Following is the list of the major Graphics Card brands with a huge customer base on a global scale. Before you purchase a Graphics Card, make sure it is from one of the following brands.
|Nvidia||Believed to be the Godfather of the graphics card industry, NVIDIA maintains a great reputation among gamers|
|AMD||AMD’s customer-friendly policies supported by the concept of affordability make it one of the best GPU brands in the world|
|Asus||When we talk of the supercharged Turbo graphics cards, ASUS comes into play. The Taiwanese Tech-solution provider develops some of the best GPUs for all-round performance|
|MSI||MSI is another leader in the GPU industry delivering high-visual supported modern video cards at reasonable prices|
|Gigabyte||With a whopping income of 4.3 billion TWD in 2020, Gigabyte produces some of the finest Graphic cards for its western and Asian customers|
|ASRock||This Taiwanese brand specializes in the manufacturing of world-class graphics cards for superior visuals aimed at enhancing the gaming experience|
|Intel||One of the earliest tech companies in the United States, Intel has made great contributions to the GPU industry by introducing ahead-of-time video cards|
|EVGA||From manufacturing motherboards to developing NVIDIA-based GPUs, EVGA Corporation is another trustworthy video card brand for gamers|
|Sapphire||Founded in 2002, Sapphire Technology Limited maintains a great influence on gamers with the help of its AMD Radeon series|
|Zotac||The Hong Kong based video card maker has a long list of standard-use GPUs built specifically for gameholics|
|XFX||Based in the United States, XFX takes great pride in serving the game community by offering standard graphics solutions|
|Palit||Palit is a first-tier Graphics card brand from Asia. It is a renowned GPU manufacturer offering NVIDIA and ATI-based products|
|PowerColor||Founded in 1997 in Taiwan, Powercolor offers a couple of years of warranty on its products, specifically the graphics cards|
|Gainward||Headquartered in Germany, Gainward is a child company of Palit and with its own separate division of remarkably designed graphics cards to cover the western European market|
|Galax||Galax offers a long range of fancy NVIDIA-inspired video cards and accessories for the die-hard fans of video games|
|INNO3D||Its a major supplier of high-performance graphics cards with a dedicated history of more than a couple of decades|
|Leadtek||Leadtek takes care of the never-ending demands of professional gamers by offering affordable graphics solutions|
How Much Does A Graphics Card Cost?
Well, It depends on the features of a graphic card. If we talk of an average card offering some good features, it can range anywhere from 150$ to 400$. For instance, Gigabyte’s GPU comes at 166$ whereas ASUS’ same hardware component can be owned after paying 416$. However, if you need a GPU for some so-called professional use and you have lots of money in your bank account, you can even opt for one for a whopping 1000$ or more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Congratulations! You are now a Ph.D. in Graphics Processors. Seems like a big yet informative journey through the world of GPUs, right? Different GPUs come for different purposes in various sizes, and color and are backed by some unique features.
When buying a GPU, make sure it offers all the basic features that all the other cards are offering these days. For the passionate gamers, a GPU could be their best friend and for the business runners requiring to run some heavy applications for better visuals, a GPU could be equally important.