display adapter

(redirected from Graphics controller)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.

display adapter

[di′splā ə‚dap·tər]
(computer science)
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

display adapter

A plug-in card in a desktop computer that performs graphics processing. Also commonly called a "graphics card" or "video card," modern display adapters use the PCI Express interface, while earlier cards used PCI and AGP. The display adapter determines the maximum resolution, refresh rate and number of colors that can be displayed, which the monitor must also be able to support. On most PCs, these graphics circuits are built into the motherboard's chipset. A separate plug-in card is required only to greatly enhance rendering for video games or other fast-motion graphics applications. See chipset.

The Graphics Pipeline
The modern display adapter performs two operations. First is rendering, which moves the graphics data through a series of stages that creates the image frames and adds texture and shading (see graphics pipeline). In the first PCs, this was done by the CPU. Today's display circuits are sophisticated parallel processing computers all by themselves (see GPU).

The second function continuously converts the rendered graphic patterns (bitmaps) created in the RAM-based frame buffers into signals for the monitor's screen.

Digital and Analog Signals
Modern adapters output digital DisplayPort and HDMI signals. Earlier adapters (CGA, EGA, PGA, DVI) were also digital, and TV-tube-based monitors (CRTs) converted them to analog. Starting with VGA in 1987, adapters sent analog signals to the monitor; however, today's monitors may include VGA and DVI inputs to accommodate older computers. On laptops, the display circuitry has been digital from end to end. See shared video memory, how to select a PC monitor, CGA, EGA, PGA, DVI, VGA, HDMI and DisplayPort.

Call It What?

Take your pick... display adapter, graphics card, display card, video adapter, video card, graphics adapter, graphics controller, VGA adapter and VGA card have all been terms for the plug-in board that creates the screen images. For a detailed list of adapter resolutions, see screen resolution.

The World's Largest
Visitors used to explore this ceiling-high combination display adapter and sound card at The Computer Museum in Boston. (Image by FAYFOTO/Keith Quenzel; courtesy of The Computer History Museum, www.computerhistory.org.)

More Down to Earth
Although a basic level of graphics circuitry is built into all motherboards, plugging in an external adapter is still required for gaming. (Image courtesy of NVIDIA Corporation.)
Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.
References in periodicals archive ?
The companies said that 'Jade' is the first device in a new family of graphics controllers from Fujitsu and is the first Fujitsu System-on-Chip (SoC) to integrate the 32-bit ARM926EJ-S CPU core with the company's graphics processor 'Coral PA'.
The graphics controller is now an important component and how you plan to use the PC will help you decide what kind of controller to choose.
The graphics controller chip is the most important element of the hardware.
The NDiS B533 is a fanless 4K digital signage player built around the new 4th generation of Intel Core processor family series (codename Haswell) and Intel HD 4600 integrated graphics controller. The use of this powerful new CPU family together with the integrated graphics capability means this computer can drive the demands of 4k resolution.
Also shown at the EVS booth is the Epsio Live Graphics Controller, the Xedio Dispatcher and the IPEdit's new Edit-While Playout mode.
(NASDAQ:SNPS), Mountain View, Calif., a world leader in software and IP for semiconductor design and manufacturing, has announced that Euphonic Technologies has achieved first-pass silicon success for its high-performance EGC601 Embedded Graphics Controller system-on-chip (SoC) utilizing Synopsys' DesignWare(R) IP for PCI Express.
Multilabs announced its custom controller chip called the ezVGA Graphics Controller, and the "ez" serial-controlled embedded module called the ezVGA Serial Module.
"It allows the first low-cost graphics controller designs offering reprogrammable parameters for a range of high-resolution automotive infotainment vector graphics applications."
AS PCs have become more powerful, software has become more sophisticated - and the graphics controller has become an important component.
Integrated in the single system LSI chip are a three-dimensional (3D) luminance/chrominance (Y/C) separator, digital video (D/V) format decoder and IEEE 1394 A/V link controller, as well as an A/V compression/decompression codec, a graphics controller, a video display controller and a high-performance CPU, the functions conventionally configured with multiple LSI chips.
For example, HP's xw4100 starting at under $800, has a Pentium 4 2.4-MHz processor, 128 MB system memory, a 40-GB IDE hard drive, an Nvidia-based 2D graphics controller, and other workstation niceties.
With a choice of powerful Intel Pentium 4 or Celeron desktop processors and integrated ATI Mobility Radeon graphics controller with 4X AGP 3D performance, the HP Pavilion ze5300 provides desktop convenience and functionality in a stylish, mobile design.