Webopedia on Google+Webopedia on TwitterWebopedia on FacebookTech Bytes Blog
Main » TERM » G »

graphics accelerator

A type of video adapter that contains its own processor to boost performance levels. These processors are specialized for computing graphical transformations, so they achieve better results than the general-purpose CPU used by the computer. In addition, they free up the computer's CPU to execute other commands while the graphics accelerator is handling graphics computations.

The popularity of graphical applications, and especially multimedia applications, has made graphics accelerators not only a common enhancement, but a necessity. Most computer manufacturers now bundle a graphics accelerator with their mid-range and high-end systems.

Aside from the graphics processor used, the other characteristics that differentiate graphics accelerators are:

  • memory : Graphics accelerators have their own memory, which is reserved for storing graphical representations. The amount of memory determines how much resolution and how many colors can be displayed. Some accelerators use conventional DRAM, but others use a special type of video RAM (VRAM), which enables both the video circuitry and the processor to simultaneously access the memory.
  • bus : Each graphics accelerator is designed for a particular type of video bus. As of 1995, most are designed for the PCI bus.
  • register width: The wider the register, the more data the processor can manipulate with each instruction. 64-bit accelerators are already becoming common, and we can expect 128-bit accelerators in the near future.
  • Also see Understanding Video and Graphics Adapters  in Webopedia's "Did You Know...?" section.







    TECH RESOURCES FROM OUR PARTNERS
    DID YOU KNOW?
    13 Best Free Android Apps

    From secure messaging to document editing, our top free must-have apps have been rated, reviewed and named the best free Android apps of 2015. Read More »

    The Five Generations of Computers

    Learn about each of the five generations of computers and major technology developments that have led to the current devices that we use today. Read More »

    Cloud Computing Market Leaders, 2015

    If not for AWS, Microsoft would dominate the cloud. The race to capture market share will grow ever more fierce in the years ahead. Here's a look... Read More »

    QUICK REFERENCE
    29 Free Android Apps for Cash-Strapped Students

    From wacky alarm clocks to lecture hall tools and after class entertainment, these Android apps are a good fit for a student's life and budget. Read More »

    Network Fundamentals Study Guide

    A network is a group of two or more computer systems or devices, linked together to share resources, exchange files and electronic communications.... Read More »

    Computer Architecture Study Guide

    This Webopedia  study guide describes the different parts of a computer system and their relations. Read More »