what it is, what is inside and how it works.
We are going to explain to you what is and how does a graphics card work, one of the components that most directly depends on the ability of your computer or laptop to move next-generation games or high-resolution image processors. But it is one thing to know that you may need a good graph, and another to know how it works.
We have recently talked to you in depth and from a technical point of view about what graphics cards are like in this article. However, what we are going to do now in Engadget Basics is to try to summarize it and translate it in a way that people without so much technical knowledge can also understand it.
What is the graphics card
The graphics card or video card of a component that is integrated into the motherboard of the PC or is installed separately to expand its capabilities. Specifically, this card is dedicated to the processing of data related to video and images that are being played on the computer.
All the images you see on your computer monitor, from the graphics in a video game to what you write in Word, need to be processed by the computer. The graphics cards obtain that data sent to them by the computer’s processor, and transforms them into visual information, which means that it takes data that are ones and zeros and converts them into images.
There are two types of graphics cards, the integrated ones that are coupled to the processor itself as a part of it, and the dedicated ones that you can connect separately to the computer as if they were an external unit on which the CPU can be supported for particularly demanding tasks. In both cases, the graph will connect directly to the monitor to send it the data.
One of the aspects for which graphics cards become more important is how demanding the processing of visual data can be in video games and video or photo editing. In these cases, especially in high-resolution video editing and next-generation games, it is usually necessary to resort to an external graphics card that is as powerful as possible.
And because? Well, because the graphics cards that are integrated into the processors are designed for the most common tasks of the computer, such as browsing the Internet or the simplest image processing. For heavier tasks, the processor will need a graphic power, and to offer it and not overload it is why the processing is derived to the external cards, if any.
What’s inside a graph and how it works
The heart of the graphics card is the GPU o Graphics processing unit, a very complex circuit that integrates several billions of tiny transistors and several cores that have independent processing capacity. The power will depend on the quantity and capacity of these cores, an aspect that is important due to the great calculation effort required to generate the graphics that you see on the computer.
Just as the central processors of computers, CPUs, are designed with few cores but high clock frequencies, GPUs tend to the opposite concept, having large numbers of cores with relatively low clock frequencies. Most of the cores are aimed at vertex and pixel processing.
Then you have graphical random access memory or GRAM, which are memory chips that store and transport information between each other. This memory is not something that will determine in an important way the maximum performance of a graphics card, although if it is not enough it can end up weighing down and limiting the power of the CPU.
And then you have the random access memory digital-to-analog converter, also known as RAMDAC. In this case, it is a digital signal to analog signal converter, and is responsible for taking the digital signals generated by the graphics card and converting them into a type of signal that can be interpreted by the monitor to which the computer is connected. Depending on its capacity, the signal can be converted to adapt it to different refresh rates.
Also, the most powerful graphics cards they also usually include their own built-in fans. You must bear in mind that they are in charge of a very demanding job, possibly the most demanding of the computer in the domestic environment, so they need those fans so that they do not overheat too much when you play your favorite title.
As for the operation, if we simplify it we could talk about two main functions. First, the vertex processing is carried out, which obtains the vertex information calculated by the CPU and processes their spatial ordering, their rotation, and which segments of these will be graphically visible.
And then it goes to pixel processing, which is like putting a coat of paint and process what you are actually going to see on the monitor. This is where the power of the graphics is most important, since it is the most complex and heavy process, and where the necessary graphic layers and effects are applied to create the complex textures and realistic graphics that you should later see in screen.
Once this is done, the graphics card sends the information to the monitor. Different types of outputs can be used for this, such as VGA, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort or USB-C. Each one has some characteristics and you will have to look for the best of them that is present both in the graphics that you have in the CPU and in the monitor, connecting them directly.