June 3, 2021

The Evolution of Video Cards

Computer technology in operating systems like Windows is always growing and has evolved dramatically over the last 30 years, with components shrinking in size and increasing in power, moving from showing rows of text to generating photorealistic scenes in real-time.

An important feature in computer technology is a graphics card. The graphics card is a circuit board with a series of chipsets around the size of an index card. It transforms video into electrical impulses and sends them to a display. This technique is quick enough to handle games, movies, and other media.

Graphics cards‘ looks and designs have also changed dramatically, with manufacturers improving PCB components and experimenting with cooling solutions. While many firms have tried to enter the GPU industry, Nvidia and AMD have generally monopolized it.

1940: The Beginning

In the history of graphics cards, the US military utilized the first graphics card in the Saga computer system as a flight simulator in 1940, and only 256 colors were visible on the graphics display.

The 1980s: Ascension of the Graphics Card

1981 

IBM introduced the Monochrome Display Adapter. It was one of the earliest display adapters created, even though it was not exactly considered a graphics card. However, its main function was to show 80 columns of text characters and symbols across 25 lines.

The CT5 flight simulator was also built for the US Air Force for $20 million by the computer graphics firm Evans and Ivan Sutherland. The simulator, powered by a DEC PDP-11 minicomputer and included three CRT displays for a realistic training experience, was state-of-the-art. 

1983 

Intel launched the iSBX 275 video graphics card in its seventh year, a semi-revolutionary gadget that could show eight different color resolutions at 256 x 256 pixels, a significant milestone in the graphics revolution. 

1988

With devices like the VGA Wonder, ATI, a business headquartered in Canada, built a reputation for itself in the worldwide graphics processor industry. 16-bit color support and 2D rendering were included on the card and were responsible for many of the video cards released around the turn of the decade.

The VGA Wonder, which had a mouse port built right into the card, was the brainchild of this corporation that maintained its cutting-edge brand throughout the early days of the PC.

The 1990s: Times of Significant Progress

1992 

OpenGL 1.0, a platform-independent application programming interface (API) for 2D and 3D graphics cards, was introduced by Silicon Graphics Inc (SGI). OpenGL was designed with professional UNIX-based enterprises in mind at first. However, it comes with developer-friendly support and was quickly embraced for 3D gaming.

1996

The 3dfx Voodoo1 was the first 3D gaming console, having a 3D processor, 4MB of RAM, and a 50MHz core clock. The Voodoo1 didn’t support 2D graphics at all, forcing users to utilize a separate 2D card.

But that didn’t matter as the gaming community had been anticipating technology capable of keeping up with the 3D visuals of first-person shooter chart-toppers like Doom, Quake, and Duke Nukem 3D.

1997

Nvidia’s Riva 128 graphics card gave the business a footing in the 3D graphics industry, competing against the Voodoo 1. The NV1 from 1996 was Nvidia’s first product, and it failed miserably. It was a collaborative endeavor with the new firm Sega and used quadratic rather than triangular surfaces, featured inadequate audio, and disappointing options for a Sega controller.

Nvidia swiftly learned from its mistakes and went on to the Riva 128, which did away with the quads, the audio, and the Sega ties but didn’t perform any better at first. However, once Nvidia released updated drivers, the card shot to the top of the lists. Its 3D performance wasn’t quite up to Voodoo’s, but it was entertaining enough for many.

1998 

The Voodoo2 3dfx then entered the market with a graphics card that supported 1024 x 768 resolutions. It was an innovative card with three processors and had two cards function parallel within a single computer, thus improving on the previous card’s high-resolution support. It collaborated to provide the finest 3D graphics performance at the time. Unfortunately for them, it ended up being the second and final absolutely amazing product from 3dfx.

1999 

The future arrived in the form of Nvidia’s GeForce 256 (DDR version) card, often known as a GPU. GeForce was capable of processing at least 10 million polygons per second and supported DirectX7. The GeForce 256 from Nvidia included a cooler for its CPU unit and capabilities for its DirectX 7. 

The 21st Century: Direction toward Virtual Reality

2002 

On a 150nm manufacturing process, ATI’s Radeon 9700 graphics card supported Direct3D 9.0 and OpenGL 2.0, providing high-end performance.

2004 

Nvidia GeForce 6 Series 6600 and 6800 are introduced by GeForce. The original 6800 is a card that is popular among overclockers. RivaTuner is an application that allows you to overclock your computer. With SLI, you may use PureVideo technology with a multi-video card. If the software tweak caused artifacts on the graphics card, the default settings might be simply restored.

2006 

GeForce released the GTX 8800, the finest graphics card ever. With 129 streaming processors, a 575MHz core clock, and 768MB of DDR3 memory, this thing was Nvidia’s inner beast. A texture-fill rate of 3.68 million per second is also included. The Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX was a powerful graphics card for its day, capable of using a lot of power and running even the most demanding games for a long period. 

2009 

Before AMD acquired ATI, the Radeon HD 5970, one of ATI’s final products, was produced. The dual GPU card has been called an “elongated monument to 3D excess” and even, by some, a monster of a card. It weighed in at an impressive 3.5 pounds, pretty heavy for a graphics card. It offered a dual-GPU system with unrivaled performance and was ATI’s best-selling flagship graphics card. It was so well-designed and imbued with formidability that it is still available today.

2012 

2012 marked the rivalry that continues on up till today. Radeon created the HD 7970, a powerful card based on AMD’s Graphics Core Next (GCN 1.0) architecture and manufactured using a 28nm manufacturing process. Nvidia’s Kepler architecture and a 28nm fabrication method were used to create the GPU, which lasted for two generations.

2013

Enter the AMD Radeon R9 290, a strong high-end GPU that competes well against current GPUs and holds its own in new games.

Nvidia’s GeForce Titan featured supercomputer-like architecture. The GeForce Titan was a leviathan of ingenuity and design, with seven billion transistors, six gigabytes of RAM, water cooling, and supercomputer-like construction in a surprisingly tiny chassis. 

2014 

Geforce released the Evga GeForce GTX 750 ti. Low power consumption and capabilities outperform its predecessors, allowing you to enjoy the game even at 1080P. It also has 2 GB of GDDR5 RAM running at 5400 MHz quad-pumped. The GeForce GTX 970 Maxwell graphics card from Nvidia has been a huge hit with gamers as a high-value 1080p GPU option.

2016 

Nvidia announced the GeForce GTX 1060, a mid-range graphics card with 3GB and 6GB of memory. The card’s Nvidia cooling system allowed for significant overclocking, and the GTX 1060 is Nvidia’s lowest VR-ready graphics card. The Pascal architecture, which powers the GeForce GTX 10 Series, was built using a 16nm manufacturing process. One can even argue that Nvidia’s top graphics card is still the GTX 1060.

Also, in 2016, Nvidia also released the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080. The Pascal architecture, which powers the GeForce GTX 10 Series, was built using a 16nm manufacturing process. The company’s flagship GeForce GTX 1080 features an amazing 8GB of GDDR5X VRAM and can compete as a solo 4K gaming solution against SLI or CrossFire setups. 

Conversely, the Polaris-based AMD Radeon RX 480 was geared at mid-range gamers looking for high-value performance and is designed on a 14nm manufacturing technology.

Aside from gaming, another amazing usage of video cards today is the fact that you could use them in design software like Movavi or for video editing. Computer Hope and HiTech Wizz are two places you can trust to get your next graphics card. 


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