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Graphics Card Primer for Beginners - Part 2

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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July 31, 2006 3:14:41 PM

Nice article! :D 
a b U Graphics card
July 31, 2006 3:31:35 PM

Just random thoughts;

With regards to the ring bus it might be wise to add the 128bit external double pumped, and 256bit internal single rate, thus allowing for equalization of bandwidth 2 similar clocks. Of course there's more, but considering you're talking about bitwidth, it would run alongside the description you are making and give some insight as to another reason behind the 512/256 of the X1800/1900 and 256/128 of the X1600, without going into the details of the ring stops and crossbars and their composition. Just a suggestion because up front some people might think what's the point in having 128/256 bit if it appears they can't access that much memory. Might clear up some misconceptions that most people get when thinking about a 256bit X1600, etc. which I felt was your motivation for including it. Although I could be wrong. :wink:

Speaking of memory, you may also want to mention GDDR4 now that the cards are on the near term launch pad.

For multi-card I might also mention not only that there may be no increase at all but sometimes running SLi/Xfire can be detrimental to performance as seen in a few apps not optimized for multi-gpu play.

Like your examples, although the AF example wasn't as stark a contrast for me, I like cobblestone paths and such for that, works great.

All in all pretty Swe3et !!
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July 31, 2006 3:52:28 PM

Yeah, the AF image bothers me too. I think I'll redo it.

My only real motivation for entioning the X1k's double-bitness was for newbies who read the specs to not be mislead by them in terms of performance.
I don't want to add too much info because it might confuse/dilute the basics which initiates might have difficulty grasping...

I wonder what the future of memory controllers looks like, for both Ati & Nvidia...
a b U Graphics card
July 31, 2006 4:48:55 PM

Quote:

My only real motivation for entioning the X1k's double-bitness was for newbies who read the specs to not be mislead by them in terms of performance.
I don't want to add too much info because it might confuse/dilute the basics which initiates might have difficulty grasping...


Yeah I understand, I just thought mentioning at the end of the sentence, the double data rate external bus then synchs up nicely to the twice as wide but single data rate internal memory ring-bus. But that could confuse.

Quote:
I wonder what the future of memory controllers looks like, for both Ati & Nvidia...


I dunno, and with XDR there's a totally different way of addressing memory IIRC, so there's also that to account for on the horizon (likely not until 2008 IMO(.

Anywhoo, once again good job.
July 31, 2006 6:24:08 PM

Quote:
...the double data rate external bus then synchs up nicely to the twice as wide but single data rate internal memory ring-bus.


That's probably the most eloquent I've seen that put, and still I had to read it twice. :) 

I'll see if I can sneak something similar to a proposed changes list.
July 31, 2006 7:06:25 PM

Well done! I wouldn't say I'm an expert when it comes to video cards, but I am definitely not a noob and I have a much better understanding of what is going on. Primarily the end of the article helped me a lot, compared to the hardware part. Just wanted to say nice job and thank you :p 
July 31, 2006 7:23:20 PM

You (Cleeve) wrote that article?!?! It's very good; I'm impressed!
July 31, 2006 7:43:27 PM

Thanks. :) 

The final part 3 is probably coming in a week or so. Then everyone will know as much as I do. :p 
a c 107 U Graphics card
July 31, 2006 8:12:32 PM

informative :) 
keep it up
July 31, 2006 10:40:10 PM

Glaring error: the forum link there still goes to the thread for Part I. But that's the editor's fault, I guess; not yours. :) 

Hence, for anybody else looking to see what I wrote (a lot, in case you were wondering) you could find it over there.
July 31, 2006 11:35:43 PM

Quote:
For multi-card I might also mention not only that there may be no increase at all but sometimes running SLi/Xfire can be detrimental to performance as seen in a few apps not optimized for multi-gpu play.
I also believe you should mention that. Hell, you're like the only guy in the world saying dual-video cards is not something worth looking into for most gaming needs. About time some professional reviewer shed some light on some serious myths.

On page 3, your "untextured cube" is actually textured, just using a completly basic 1-color texture. An untextured cube would be like the one displayed on page 2, with only dots and lines. Or at least I'm pretty darn sure of that 8O

Other stuff that's relatively easy to explain and could be added: bumpmapping, parallax mapping, mip map; the fact that AGP 8X require a 0.8v port while AGP4X is 1.5v, because this is a factor in choosing the right card for your motherboard (or inversly) in AGP. Some motherboards only support 1.5v, like mine.

Also you could make the difference between the company that makes the chip (ATI or nVidia) and the manufacturer (eVGA, etc.) and how can the latter influence the final product.

I don't like the AA comparison as the most evident change is how the clouds moved and not how slightly more polished the image is. Try to take a screenshot of something completly static.

Other than that, this article is definitly a reference! And a very interesting reading. Thanks a lot. :D 
August 1, 2006 12:54:32 AM

Nah, that's just a flat shaded color value on the untextured cube, not a texture.

Bump mapping, parallax mapping I'll leave under the blanket of all the features in the various versions of DirectX... mipmapping I could have gotten into more I guess.

I might do a different AA image when I go back to do another AF image though, if people are getting cloud changes out of it it's not doing it's job...
a b U Graphics card
August 1, 2006 5:05:09 AM

Quote:
Bump mapping, parallax mapping I'll leave under the blanket of all the features in the various versions of DirectX... mipmapping I could have gotten into more I guess.


Check out the Parhelia review and add the Displacement maps which are already licensed to Tom's by Matrox. :twisted:

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I might do a different AA image when I go back to do another AF image though, if people are getting cloud changes out of it it's not doing it's job...


It's doing it's job, but like most things in Oblivion it's hard to get exactly the same picture because of the randomness of those flames of the gate, the clouds in the sky move on their own.

The way to combat this is to face things that don't change. either that or take a screenie of a more static game. Most reviews use HL2 due to it's use of fences, wire, rooftops, etc.

Just a thought what resolution are you playing at when you take the screenies? Did you try lower res to increase the apperance of aliasing 'steps' for the before scene?

As alway just throwing it out there. Oh yeah and since the next gen VPUs will support Displacement mapping, not just virtual, I think it's imperative you have the Matrox Golf ball! 8)

Oh yeah, BTW, you're using 'graphics card' to describe VPU features a few times (like we all do). Also I'd like to see a vanity segment on VPU vs GPU. :twisted:

PS, in the Vertex & Pixel segments, you may also want to mention the OGL fragment and geometry aspect unless you think that's more confusing.
August 1, 2006 3:28:35 PM

Quote:
I also believe you should mention that. Hell, you're like the only guy in the world saying dual-video cards is not something worth looking into for most gaming needs. About time some professional reviewer shed some light on some serious myths.

Actually, lots of us know that SLi/CrossFire is largely over-rated. It makes sense, obviously, for the "sensless," who have thousands to burn on a new PC every year, and planned for well, can make sense for someone who buys a SLi motherboard because it's solid, gets a single high-end card now, (such as a 7900) and buys another later.

Quote:
On page 3, your "untextured cube" is actually textured, just using a completly basic 1-color texture. An untextured cube would be like the one displayed on page 2, with only dots and lines. Or at least I'm pretty darn sure of that 8O

As Cleeve mentioned, it's not textured. What you're thinking is that it still has a color/light affect applied to it; technically, without any further processing, a calculated cube won't even be visible, as it will just be a set of primitives.

However, for reference, there are multiple ways of showing un-textured geometry, in progression from least-demanding to most: vertices, wireframe, flat-shaded solid, gourad-shaded (smooth-vertex) solid, and phong-shaded (smooth-pixel) solid.

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Other stuff that's relatively easy to explain and could be added: bumpmapping, parallax mapping, mip map; the fact that AGP 8X require a 0.8v port while AGP4X is 1.5v, because this is a factor in choosing the right card for your motherboard (or inversly) in AGP. Some motherboards only support 1.5v, like mine.

Well, keep in mind that this is only Part II of III. One would have to think that different types of shader will be covered in Part III, don'tcha think? ;) 

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Also you could make the difference between the company that makes the chip (ATI or nVidia) and the manufacturer (eVGA, etc.) and how can the latter influence the final product.

Well, that would perhaps be more fitting for a buyer's guide; remember, this is merely to help the neophyte understand the technical side of graphics cards, not to give them ALL of the information. As I've said previously, this sort of stuff is best learned incrementally.
August 1, 2006 4:12:09 PM

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Actually, lots of us know that SLi/CrossFire is largely over-rated.
I have only read too often, in professional "pc buyer's" guides, impliclty or explicitly, that buying dual-7900GTX is the only way you'll be able to appreciate the game the way it was meant to be played. This is the first article I read that presents such a wise opinion on the matter, and if I was Cleeve I would have pushed that nail in just a tad bit more, to compensate all the misinformation, which is the reason for my suggestion.

Thanks for the info on untextured 3d shapes. Still, the flat-shaded 1 color cube looks much more like a textured one than the wireframe model. Such comparison would be a bit more explicit on what a texture is. But as it turns out, this is only a detail.

For the rest, I'll leave it to Cleeve's judgement, just my 2 cents.
August 1, 2006 4:39:17 PM

Quote:
I have only read too often, in professional "pc buyer's" guides, impliclty or explicitly, that buying dual-7900GTX is the only way you'll be able to appreciate the game the way it was meant to be played. This is the first article I read that presents such a wise opinion on the matter, and if I was Cleeve I would have pushed that nail in just a tad bit more, to compensate all the misinformation, which is the reason for my suggestion.
Indeed, a number of articles do recommend buying dual-graphics setups; technically, they are right on the fact that they will produce the most powerful, and hence take the crown in whatever benchmarks they've run. However, the media really isn't out to help you get the most for your money; they simply want you to spend it.

Quote:
Thanks for the info on untextured 3d shapes. Still, the flat-shaded 1 color cube looks much more like a textured one than the wireframe model. Such comparison would be a bit more explicit on what a texture is. But as it turns out, this is only a detail.

Well, as I mentioned, it was simply another way of showing a geometric object without anything else to it.

The full term for "texture" is "color texture map;" as the term suggests, it is a "map," in that it defines cerain properties for certain areas in a two-dimensional space. (yes, maps can have more, or less, than 2 dimensions, but for my purpose here, let's just stick with 2) "Color" means that this data in question is color data; in modern terms, this would generally mean at least 24 bits to define RGB values, and in some cases, another 8 bits to determine alpha (transparency) values.

One must keep in mind that this is all "digital information." The results, as how they're interpreted into a 2-dimensional moving image you see on your screen, may be the goal, but all these terms really relate to binary data that, without said form of interpretation, is meaningless to the human eye.
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