Search Real Knowledge
View Sitemap | Search Tips
 Home   Advertise  File Downloads Computer Center Windows XP Tips Vista Tips  Glossary  News Letters  Resources 

Video Terminology Clearly Defined

I thought that I would take the time to round up most of the common video and graphic card terminology being used in the computer industry. All words are properly defined to give you a clearer meaning of them.


Video Terminology Glossary


A software-hardware interface that enables representation of 3D scenes. The common 3D APIs are Direct3D, OpenGL and Glide.

3D Clipping:

A process in geometric transformation in which invisible faces or parts of a 3D object are removed.


The Accelerated Graphics Port was defined by Intel in 1996 and, with its features, is specially tailored to the requirements of 3D graphics. It is a dedicated graphics bus on which the processor, system memory and graphics board communicate with one another. It also provides special functions such as the "lending" of system memory for sophisticated textures (Execute Mode).


The familiar "staircase effect". Jagged transitions are often formed between adjacent pixels in the representation of diagonals or curves. These "jaggies" can be smoothed out by anti-aliasing.

Bilinear Filter:

A form of anti-aliasing, but restricted to four (2 x 2) pixels. Bilinear filters are used especially for textures.

Bump Mapping:

A process by which textures are assigned depth information, which allows the display of relief or raised structures.

Chip and Memory Clock Frequency:

In a similar way as processors, graphics chips are also run with a clock frequency measured in MHz. These and the speed of the memory, together with other factors, determine the performance capability of a chip set.


Parts of polygons invisible to the representation are determined in clipping. These parts are then not displayed.


Stands for Display Data Channel. A special data channel which a DDC-capable monitor can use to send its technical data to the graphics board.


This user interface (API) for Windows is a component of DirectX.

Display Refresh Rate:

Display refresh rate or image refresh frequency (in Hz) indicates how many times per second an image on the monitor is refreshed.

Double Buffering:

Double Buffering means that there are two display buffers. This means that the next image can be drawn in the page of the display buffer, which is initially invisible. This image is displayed once it is ready and the next image is prepared in the other page of the buffer. Animations and games can be made to look more realistic with this technique than in simple single buffer mode.

Fixed-Frequency Monitor:

A monitor that can only be operated at a specific resolution and refresh rate.

MIP Mapping:

In MIP mapping, a number of textures are assigned to an object depending on distance. The representation of the object becomes more detailed as the observer approaches the object.


3D Software interface (3D API). E.g. implemented in Windows NT and available for Windows 95. Based on Iris GL from Silicon Graphics and licensed from Microsoft.

PCI Bus:

An abbreviation of Peripheral Component Interconnect Bus. An advanced bus system, i.e. a system of parallel data lines to transfer information between individual system components, especially to expansion boards.


Polygon is the term used to describe the smallest unit into which a 3D object can be broken down. These triangles consist either of three, two or only one vertex; in theory, all the vertices of a triangle can be brought together into one.


The RAMDAC converts the digital signals to analog signals on a graphics board. VGA monitors are only capable of processing analog signals.

Rendering Process:

For calculating the representation of a 3D scene, in which the position and color of each point in space is determined. The depth information is held in the Z buffer; the color and size information is held in the frame buffer.


A distinction is made in double buffering between the front buffer and the back buffer. The image change between the front buffer and the back buffer is synchronized in tearing.

T & L:

Realism in real time – the integrated Transform & Lighting Unit makes transformations appear more natural and lighting gives objects and scenes a realistic appearance.

Z Buffer:

3D depth information (position in the third dimension) for each pixel.

You Can Also Learn About Broadband Terminology By Reading: Broadband Terminology Clearly Defined

There are many video and computer terms that feature acronyms such as RAMDAC and CMMS software. RAMDAC stands for Random Access Memory Digital-to-Analog Converter while Mapcon CMMS software stands for Computerized Maintenance Management System. With such long names it’s no wonder they use the acronym instead!


Want To Get The Best Prices Available?