10 facts you might not know about video cards

A video card is an integral part of any modern computer. Its main purpose is to display the image on the screen of your monitor. And in this article, we are going to tell you 10 interesting facts about your graphics card that you may never have known.

1. Many of you know that video cards do a good job of rendering video and are a hardware graphics accelerator. But how does she do it, how does she manage to calculate lighting in games, to fill the image? The key word here is “calculate, because in order to get a good picture and an acceptable FPS in games, your card has to do millions of floating point calculations per second. The video card may have weak cores, but there are much more of them than the processor.

2. Over time, the role of the video card in games becomes more and more significant. So recently, NVIDIA video cards began to use PhysX for calculating physics in games instead of a processor, something similar is in AMD AMD FireStream. The video adapter copes with calculations of this kind very well.

Thus, the load on the processor is reduced and allows you to better allocate the computing resources of your PC.

3. Video cards are used for scientific computing. Because of the speed of floating point mathematical calculations, they can be used for modeling, calculating the behavior of objects (their physics), predicting the weather, economic forecasts, etc.

4. A graphics adapter is like a whole computer, it has:

  • own chip

  • own memory

  • own cooling

  • own power subsystem

But there are indeed many systems for one computer component.

5. The video adapter chip has a lot more transistors than the processor (well, the die area is larger). So the AMD Radeon R9 Fury has 8.9 billion transistors, and the NVIDIA GTX 980 Ti has 8 billion, which is much more than the top processor from Intel Intel Core i7-5960X has only 2.6 billion.

6. Over time, the top-end single-chip video cards changed their TDP. On the graph you can see that sometime far back in 2006 you could buy the most powerful video card with a heat dissipation level of some 81 W! Now the GeForce GTX 950 (90 W) and the Radeon R7 360 (100 W) have approximately the same TDP level.

You can read about the technical process in this article.

7. There are video cards on the market without video output! These cards are used for calculations and servers. They can be paired with a regular video card:

  • one considers the physics of objects (simulation)

  • the other displays this complex image on the screen

Such models are present in the NVIDIA Tesla and AMD FirePro S series.

8. There are video cards with a TDP of as much as 300 W and a completely passive cooling system. How does this oven not burn out? The point is that this is a map from the previous fact. Server video cards are blown by the forces of these same server fans. By the way, if anyone is interested, the video card that I mentioned is NVIDIA Tesla K80.

9. For many of you, it may be a discovery that professional video cards tailored for computing and professional applications can cost a lot of money.

So how do they differ:

  • they use other drivers that expose them in specialized applications

  • for professional video cards, the computing performance in double precision mode (FP64) can be up to 1/2 the performance in single precision mode (FP32), while for gaming counterparts this parameter can be equal to 1/32. Floating point performance is measured in flops (for those who don’t know and want to figure it out).

10. If you brag to your friend that your laptop does not have integrated graphics, then you are mistaken, since discrete graphics also do not represent a separate adapter and are soldered into the motherboard. So it is also considered built-in.

But there are exceptions, there are cards on the MXM connector (these can be replaced), but such technologies are the prerogative of expensive gaming laptops.

We hope that our article was interesting for you and helped you to learn more about the world of video cards. Share this article with your friends, let them also know about it. If asked in the comments, we will make another similar article.

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