display adapter


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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.)
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References in periodicals archive ?
This daughter card snaps onto the display adapter without requiring another slot.
-- The HP Kayak XU800 PC Workstation, with an Intel Pentium III 800Mhz processor, dual-processing capabilities, 256MB RDRAM PC800, 9.1GB 10,000 rpm SCSI hard-disk drive, Digital Video Disk (DVD), HP LAN, 2/3-D Synergy II display adapter, running Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 and optimized for Windows 2000, has an estimated U.S.
Right click on the Windows Start button > Device Manager > Display adapters.
Direct benefits include higher performance capability, the availability of display adapters for legacy display types, and the ability to connect multiple displays to a single video output.
DisplayLink's technology increases productivity and ease-of-use in the multi-display workspace and is deployed to millions of users through globally branded PC products including universal docking stations, monitors, projectors, zero client systems and display adapters.
DisplayLink's technology increases productivity and ease-of-use in the multi-display workspace and is deployed to users through globally branded PC products including universal docking stations, monitors, projectors, zero client systems and display adapters.
It supports 4x AGP to ensure compatibility with the latest high performance video display adapters, while the Ultra ATA/66 disk I/O supports the fastest hard drives available.
The new version also adds a new media kit for specifying complex series of operations performed on streaming media, expanded hardware support for devices such as soundcards, display adapters, network interface cards and video capture boards, and performance improved by up to 30%, according to Be.
Go to the Device Manager by Start Screen -> Type "device manager" -> Enter -> Click the small arrow beside "Display Adapters" to show "Intel HD Graphics Family" -> Right click Intel hardware -> Select "Update..."
The EVO HX7 series also features NVIDIA Optimus technology, which increases battery life by toggling between display adapters while maintaining the seamless computing experience expected of CYBERPOWERPC notebooks.