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 Glossary

Last Updates: 7/30/2012
Article Number: GPU-171

The following is a glossary of useful terms related to AMD technology.

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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2D
Acronym for "two dimensional," a term applied to computer graphics that are "flat." Typical desktop applications such as word processors, spreadsheet programs, or other programs that manipulate print or basic graphics (such as pictures or line art) are generally considered to be operating within a 2D environment, even when they include simple three dimensional elements, such as buttons.

3D
Acronym for "three dimensional," referring to computer graphics that appear to have volume and depth. Various modeling processes take the representation of a 3D object provided by the computer program and render it by using various lighting components, applying textures, and setting layers of transparency or opacity as required in order to produce a realistic representation of a 3D object on a 2D display.

3DC™ Technology
An AMD hardware-based compression technology that reduces the size of 3D texture data, efficiently rendering more finely grained texture. It significantly decreases the memory footprint of normal maps containing information on how light reflects off textured surfaces, allowing game programmers to include more texture and lighting details without affecting performance.

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A

Audio Compression Manager (ACM)
A standard interface for audio compression and signal processing for Windows®. The ACM can be used by Windows programs to compress and decompress WAV files, as well as apply DSP algorithms to audio data.

ADC
Acronym for "Apple Display Connector," a type of video connection found only with certain Apple displays. In addition to carrying the video signal to the monitor, it also carries power so users can start their whole computer using the power button on the monitor. This type of connector has been largely phased out in favor of DVI connectors.

AGP
Acronym for "Accelerated Graphics Port," a slot on the computer motherboard designed specifically for 3D graphics cards. AGP runs 3D images much more smoothly and quickly than the PCI technology that it replaced; AGP runs at several times the bus speed of PCI and employs sideband addressing, so multiple data transfers between the graphics processor and the computer can take place concurrently. AGP has been largely phased out in favor of
PCI Express® (PCIe®) ports.

Alpha Blending
Alpha blending is used in 3D graphics to create transparent or opaque effects for surfaces such as glass and water. Alpha is a transparency value, so the lower the value, the more transparent the image looks. It is also used in animations to produce such things as fading effects, where one image gradually fades into another.

Alternate Frame Rendering
A graphical load-balancing scheme where two graphics cards are used to render alternate frames of the display. This configuration increases the detail of the 3D objects each card can render, as each card handles half of the total number of frames. Essentially, each card has more time to render a scene, delivering a noticeable increase in 3D detail. This type of graphical operation is only available in AMD CrossFire™ graphics cards running DirectX® and OpenGL games or applications.

AMD Cool 'n' Quiet™ Technology
AMD Cool 'n' Quiet technology automatically scales performance on-demand to provide extra performance and lower power consumption when it is needed.

AMD CrossFire™ Technology
AMD technology that enables two or more discrete graphics processors to work together to improve system performance.

AMD Dynamic Switchable Graphics
AMD Dynamic Switchable Graphics is a technology for mobile users. Discrete graphics automatically activate when 3D applications or browser video plug-ins start and when exiting applications graphics switch automatically to power-savings mode. It is currently available on AMD Radeon™ HD 6000M series graphics.

AMD Eyefinity
AMD Eyefinity is an AMD technology that supports multiple, independent display outputs. This technology essentially enables two or more displays to be simultaneously enabled on a single graphics card. The maximum number of display outputs that can be supported varies depending on the connectivity used for your displays.

AMD HD3D
AMD HD3D is a technology designed to enable Stereoscopic 3D support in games, movies and/or photos.  Additional hardware (e.g. 3D enabled panels, 3D-enabled glasses/emitter, Blu-ray 3D drive) and/or software (e.g. Blu-ray 3D discs, 3D middleware, games) are required for the enablement of AMD HD3D.

AMD Overdrive™ Technology
A technology that maximizes the performance of a GPU by dynamically altering its speed to an optimal level depending on usage. An on-chip thermal sensor monitors the temperature of the GPU, allowing for maximum clock speed to be maintained while avoiding overheating.

AMD Radeon™ Dual Graphics
AMD Radeon Dual Graphics allows AMD APUs and selected AMD Radeon discrete graphics cards to work together to deliver performance that is better than either device alone. It is currently supported on the AMD A-Series APUs in conjunction with selected AMD Radeon HD 6000 series graphics cards when used with the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system.

AMD Vision Engine
Leveraging AMD Radeon Cores, Video Accelerator and Software to enable smooth 1080p HD playback, accelerated Web Browsing and accelerated Media Applications.

Anisotropic Filtering
A technique that preserves the surface details of an object as it recedes into the distance by utilizing and blending together the object’s texture maps. This makes 3D objects appear more realistic as the detail of their surface texture is retained in a smooth, seamless fashion on the sections that move or fade away into the background.

Anti-aliasing
A method that smoothes out the jagged edges of a curved object. A black curved line on a white background displayed on a computer screen will have some jaggedness along its edges due to the inherent limitations of using discrete pixels to display the image. Anti-aliasing smoothes out this jaggedness by filling in the white spaces between the jagged edges with varying shades of grey.

APU
Acronym for "Accelerated Processing Unit." AMD APUs combines the capabilities of the CPU and GPU on a single silicon die.

Aspect Ratio
The proportions of a display are expressed as a ratio of its width and height. Common ratios include 4:3 for TVs and CRTs, 5:4 for LCDs, and 16:9 for widescreen displays.

AMD Avivo™ Technology
ATI Avivo is a set of hardware and low level software features designed to offload video decoding, encoding, and post-processing from a computer's CPU to a compatible GPU. ATI Avivo compatible GPUs have lower CPU usage when a player and decoder software that supports ATI Avivo is used. The new name for this technology is “AMD Media Codec”.

AMD Avivo Color
A feature within Catalyst™ Control Center, providing the user with control over how color is displayed on a monitor. Avivo Color provides tools to adjust the Hue, Saturation and Color Temperature values on a per-monitor basis.

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B

Back Buffer
A type of off-screen memory used to provide smooth video and 2D graphics acceleration. This technique uses two frame buffers, so the process is often referred to as "double-buffering." While the contents of one buffer are displayed, a second buffer, called the "back" buffer, holds the frame being worked on. In this way users will only see complete, smooth frames displayed onscreen.

Bilinear Filtering
This filtering method reduces the blockiness caused when zooming into a 3D surface that is at a right angle to the viewer. A newspaper photo examined closely enough will show that the picture is made up of tiny dots. If the photo was enlarged it would start to look "blocky" and less distinct. This is also a problem for computer-generated images, especially for surface details.

Bit Depth
The number of data bits used to store color information about a pixel. Larger bit depth means a greater range of color information is capable of being encoded into each pixel. For example, 1 binary bit of memory can only encode to either "0" or "1". So a graphical bit depth of 1 means that the display can only show two colors, such as the black or white of a monochrome display.

Four-bit color depth is capable of displaying 16 colors because there are only 16 different combinations of 4 bits ("0000", "0001", "0010"... to "1111").

16-bit color is capable of reproducing 65,536 colors, 24-bit color (where 8 bits are allocated to red, green, and blue each) can display up to 16.8 million individual colors, and 30-bit color (10 bits each) can display over to 1 billion individual colors. Note that "32-bit" color is usually 24-bit color with additional space allocated for other information, such as alpha.

High-end AMD workstation graphics accelerators can support higher bit depths, including 40-bit and 64-bit color.

Bitmap
A graphic or character representation composed of individual pixels, arranged horizontally in rows. A monochrome bitmap uses one bit per pixel (bpp). Color bitmaps may use up to 32 bpp, depending on the color depth selected.

Brightness
The amount of white or black that is applied to all colors on screen. By making the screen "brighter" you are adding more white to it. This should not be confused with luminosity, which measures the actual light level emitted from the computer display.

Buffer
A name referring to portions of on-board video memory. One large buffer is always used to display images to the screen; this is the "display buffer." The rest of off-screen memory is typically used by applications as ack buffers, z-buffers, and texture buffers.

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C

Catalyst™ A.I.Technology
Enables 3D driver optimization per application.

Charisma Engine™ II Technology
Incorporating a programmable Vertex Shader pipeline, Charisma Engine II is a transform and lighting engine designed to make 3D characters and transitions more life-like.

Color Component
Three color components—Red, Green, and Blue—combine in various intensities to determine the color of each pixel on the screen. The values of each color component are graphically represented by a corresponding color curve.

Color Correction
Correct discrepancies between the real color value and the way a screen displays it. Color discrepancies can be caused by a variety of sources, including the lighting conditions in the work area and gradual shifts in color over time on monitors or flat panel displays.

Color Curve
A color curve represents all possible intensity values (from 0 to 255) for a color component (Red, Green or Blue). For each color curve, the horizontal axis represents the input value (the color value a program wants to display), while the vertical axis represents the output value (the color value that the display driver will write to the screen). A value of 0 (in the lower left corner) represents the complete absence of that particular color, while a value of 255 (in the upper right corner) represents the "full" strength for that color.

Color Depth
Color depth refers to the number of color shades available on your display and is measured in bits per pixel (bpp). Typical ranges are: 256 colors (8 bpp), thousands of colors (16 bpp), and millions of colors (32 bpp).

Color Temperature
Color temperature is a measure that compares an individual color or range of colors to the light radiated from an equivalent incandescent black body at a given temperature in degrees Kelvin. An incandescent black body that radiates at 1850 K (such as a candle) will appear orange, while a household light bulb radiating at 2800 K appears yellow-white, and the blue of lightly overcast sky is equivalent to an object radiating light when heated to 7000 K. Adjusting color temperature enables a user to set a monitor to best suit ambient lighting conditions.

Component Video
A standard Red/Green/Blue (RGB) color signal for televisions typically used on DVD players and HDTV systems. The signal is split and compressed into separate luminance and color values—luminance ("Y"), red minus luminance (R-Y), and blue minus luminance (B-Y). The value for green is not transmitted. The display device automatically "fills in" the color values that are not red or blue. DVDs are encoded using component video so display devices will provide enhanced playback when this type of connection is used. A common variant of this format used in North America is YPbPr.

Composite Video
A type of analog video signal that combines both brightness and color information into a single signal. It typically uses a single RCA connection for the video channel, and separate RCA connections for the left and right audio channels. The quality of the video signal is reduced by the process of mixing the brightness and multiple color channels together into a single channel. For this reason it is inferior in signal quality than either S-Video or component video. Composite video is the broadcast format for analog television signals worldwide, and connections are typically available on VCRs, DVD players and video games.

Control Center
The Control Center software application contains settings for accessing and configuring all driver features available for your AMD product. The name of the application varies depending on the AMD product and operating system you are using:

  • AMD VISION Engine Control Center—Available for AMD computing platforms installed with the AMD APU or AMD CPUs and AMD Radeon graphics cards.
  • Catalyst Control Center—Available for systems installed with AMD consumer graphics cards, such as AMD Radeon graphics cards.
  • Catalyst Pro Control Center—Available for systems installed with AMD professional graphics cards, such as AMD FirePro™ graphics cards.

Control Point
A user-created point on the color curve. Users can change the color of the screen by moving the control points with a mouse.

CPU
Acronym for "Central Processing Unit." The CPU performs instruction, logical, and mathematical processing as well as other general computing in a computer.

CRT
Acronym for "cathode ray tube," which is the main component of computer monitors and TVs. Color CRTs use three separate electron beams fired through a shadow mask and onto the back of the glass screen. The electron beams activate separate red, green, and blue values in various strengths in order to produce a colored image.

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D

Decal
A texture that is rendered directly as a visual. Decals are rendered into a viewport-aligned rectangle.

DFP
Acronym for "digital flat-panel", which is includes digital display devices such as LCD monitors connected through a DVI, DisplayPort, or HDMI™ connection. DFP can also be used to refer to digital TVs (DTVs).

Direct 3D
Part of Microsoft's DirectX API designed for rendering 3D graphics on Windows systems. It provides software developers with low-level access to functions on graphics cards, providing the type of performance necessary for intensive 3D applications such as games.

Display Data Channel (DDC)
A bi-directional communication between PC monitors and video adapters. The monitor continuously sends its Extended Display Identification Data (EDID) message to the video adapter. The message contains information about the specification of the monitor. This enables the video adapter to automatically select the highest resolution supported by a monitor and prevent users from selecting unsupported modes.

DisplayPort
A digital display interface/connector designed to replace the DVI interface. DisplayPort supports up to 10.8 Gbits per second data transfer. DisplayPort is also designed as an alternative to HDMI™; it carries both audio and video signals and as of version 1.1 supports HDCP. DisplayPort supports both external and internal display connections.

Dithering
A computer graphics technique that takes advantage of the human eye’s tendency to mix two colors that are adjacent to each other to produce smooth boundary transitions. Dithering adds intermediate color values between two or more boundaries, producing smoother, more natural look to 2D images or 3D objects.

Dot Pitch
A measure of the sharpness of a monitor’s display. Dot pitch is measured in millimeters (mm) and is the distance between the individual phosphor sub-pixels in a CRT display or cells of the same color within an LCD display. The smaller the number, the sharper the image. The most common dot pitches for monitors range from .24 mm to .31 mm. Also, if a monitor with a .24 mm dot pitch is set to its highest possible resolution, the pixel size will equal the dot pitch. If the monitor is set to lower resolutions, the pixels will be comprised of multiple dots.

Digital Signal Processor (DSP)
A specialized digital microprocessor used to perform calculations on digitized signals that were originally analog in form (e.g. voice). The big advantage of DSP lies in the programmability of the processor, allowing parameters to be easily changed.

DVI
Acronym for "Digital Video Interface," a standard video connection used on many current computer displays. There are three types of DVI connections: DVI-A (analog), DVI-D (digital), and DVI-I (integrated, capable of either analog or digital). DVI supports bandwidth video signals over 160 Hz, so it is most often used for high-resolution displays.

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E

Extended Display Identification Data (EDID)
A data that contains basic information about a monitor and its capabilities. The information is stored in the display and is used to communicate with the system through a Display Data Channel (DDC). The system uses this information for configuration purposes, so the monitor and system can work together.

F

Flat Shading
A lighting technique that shades each polygon of a 3D object based on where the source of the light is and the angle of the polygon in relation to it. It enables relatively fast rendering of 3D objects, although it can make those objects appear "faceted" as each visible polygon is set to a particular color value, and consequently does not produce as realistic an effect as obtained when using Gouraud shading.

Fog
Term used to describe the blending of an object using a fixed color as objects are made to appear more distant from the viewer.

Frame Buffer
The portion of the memory buffer on the graphics card used to store the image being displayed. All rendering processes have been accomplished by this stage and this buffer contains only a one-to-one relationship of the data to be relayed to the display.

Frames Per Second
In terms of 3D graphics, refers to the rate at which the graphic processor can render new screens per second. Higher rates equals better, more naturalistic performance for such things as games set in a 3D environment. Sometimes abbreviated to "fps".

Framelock
Technology used for simulation, visualization and power walls. It optionally allows systems to be synchronized (Genlocked) to an external signal, a capability essential for use in powerwalls used in live television broadcasts.

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G

Gamma
Sometimes confused with brightness, gamma actually refers to the correction that is applied to any display device in order to produce more gradual increases or decreases in the perceived brightness for that device. A change in gamma produces a non-linear change in the color curve, ensuring that perceived changes in color and intensity are consistently applied.

Genlock
Technology used for broadcast, non-linear editing (NLE) and other video workflows. This allows the output of attached GPUs to be fed into video-centric devices (e.g. monitors used in broadcast applications, or NLE suites).

GPU
Acronym for "Graphics Processing Unit." The GPU powers the operations of a graphics card including support for 2D/3D and video. A GPU can be embedded directly on the motherboard (integrated GPU) or on an individual graphics card (discrete GPU). The terms "GPU" and "graphics processor" are used interchangeably.

Graphics Core Next (GCN)
GCN an AMD technology implemented in the AMD Radeon HD 7000 series graphics products. The GCN Architecture is designed for improved utilization, which ensures that the GPU is making optimal use of its resources for maximum performance.

Graphics Processor
See "GPU."

Group
A container that lists related features in the Control Center application. For example, the Power group contains all settings that relate directly to the video playback, video quality, and video color.

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H

HDCP
Acronym for "High-bandwidth Digital Copy Protection." It is a form of digital rights management designed to protect copyright of content being transported across DVI or HDMI connections. Several international regulatory bodies have recommended its incorporation into high-definition display and playback devices.

HDMI™ Technology
Acronym for "High Definition Multimedia Interface." It is a 19-pin connector used for transferring combined digital audio and video. HDMI supports standard, enhanced, and high-definition digital video signals, and is designed for use with VCRs, DVD players, personal computers, and set-top boxes. A DVI adapter can be used to transfer the video signal to an HDMI-capable display, although audio must be transferred from a different route, as DVI output does not support audio.

HDTV
Acronym for "High Definition Television," a format that produces enhanced picture quality in a wide-screen format that matches that of a movie theater screen. The two most popular formats are 1080i and 720p, where the number represents how many horizontal scan lines they have, and the following letter represents whether the picture is interlaced, or the product of progressive scanning technology. Interlaced displays paint the odd-numbered scan lines and then the even-numbered lines to produce a picture, whereas progressive scan paints all of the scan lines at once. Both formats use an aspect ratio of 16:9. In contrast, standard North American television signals are displayed using 480 interlaced (480i) scan lines with a more square aspect ratio of 4:3.

Hue
Refers to a specific color within the visible spectrum of light, defined by its dominant wavelength. A light wave with a central tendency within the range of 565-590 nm is visible as yellow. In the standard RGB color space used by most computer displays, hue refers to a coordinate of the color as described by its red, green, and blue values, minus any additional brightness or saturation values for that color.

HydraVision™ Software
HydraVision is AMD's multi-monitor management software, enabling users to manage the display of multiple windows and applications across two or more adjacent monitors. It also includes a range of productivity features designed to effectively manage applications in this environment. HydraVision is available only if the HydraVision software component is installed with the Control Center software.

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I

IGP
Acronym for "Integrated Graphics Processor", indicating that a GPU is embedded directly on the motherboard rather than on a discrete graphics card.

L

LCD Overdrive
AMD technology that compensates for monitor response time or latency when displaying video using overlays. A slow response time can create a streaking effect that can occur on moving images displayed on a slower than optimal monitor. LCD Overdrive is designed to minimize this problem. LCD Overdrive enables a pixel to change from shade to shade more quickly by either boosting or decreasing the luminosity of the requested pixel value and applying the modified value to the pixel. This decreases the difference between the before and after pixel values and the amount of time required for the pixel to change state.

Lighting
In 3D computer graphics, refers to aspects and quality of the virtual light source being used to make an object visible. Lighting can strongly affect the "mood" of a scene. For example, a "harsh" light could be a bare light bulb that is glaringly bright on the objects closest to it while casting strong shadows in the background. A "softer" light would be more diffuse and not cast shadows, such as you would get outdoors on a typical overcast day.

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M

Mipmapping
The most memory-intensive aspect of 3D graphics are the textures that give an object its realism (like wood, marble, leather, and cloth). Because objects in real life become less detailed as they move farther away from the viewer, 3D programmers simulate this by using less detailed, lower resolution texture maps on distant objects. These texture maps are merely scaled down versions of the main texture map used when the object is up close, and they use less memory.

Multiview Video Coding (MVC)
MVC is an amendment to H.264/MPEG-4 AVC video compression standard that enables efficient encoding of sequences captured simultaneously from multiple cameras using a single video stream. MVC is intended for encoding stereoscopic (two-view) video, as well as free viewpoint television and multi-view 3D television. MVC toolset is used in stereoscopic Blu-ray 3D releases. MVC stream is backward compatible with H.264/AVC, which allows older devices and software to decode stereoscopic video streams, ignoring additional information for the second view.

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N

NTSC
The name for the type of analog television signal used throughout the Americas (except Brazil) and in Japan. It draws a total of 525 vertical interlaced frames of video at a refresh rate of 60 Hz, making it relatively flicker-free. The acronym refers to the National Television Systems Committee, which devised this color video standard in 1953.

O

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Off-screen Memory
An area of memory used to preload images so that they can be quickly drawn to the screen. Off-screen memory refers to all of the remaining video memory not taken up by the front buffer, which holds the contents of the display screen currently visible.

OpenGL
Short for "Open Graphics Library," this is an industry standard for cross-platform 3D graphics development. It consists of a large number of functions that can be called upon in various programs, such as games, CAD, and virtual-reality systems, to produce complex 3D objects from simpler, more "primitive" building blocks. Implementations currently exist under Windows, MacOS X, and various forms of Unix, including Linux®.

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P

PAL
Acronym for "Phase Alternating Line," the name for a video broadcast standard used in much of Europe (except France), most of Asia, the Middle-East, Africa, and Australia. It draws a total of 625 vertical interlaced frames of video at a refresh rate of 25 Hz.

PCI
Acronym for "Peripheral Component Interconnect," which is the specification for a type of computer bus used for attaching computer peripherals to a computer’s motherboard. PCI encompasses both integrated motherboard components (such as built-in graphical processors) and peripherals that fit into an expansion card slot, such as a separate graphics card. PCI replaced the older ISA and VESA bus standards and was itself superseded by the AGP standard for the main graphics card bus.

PCI Express® (PCIe®)
The successor standard to the PCI and AGP bus standards, with a significantly faster serial communications system, further opening up bandwidth for more communications between such peripherals as graphics cards and the computer’s CPU. PCIe cards can come in several physical configurations, the fastest currently being ×16, which is typically used for graphic cards, and ×1, typically used for other peripherals, such as separate multimedia cards.

Pipeline
In relation to computer graphic processors, refers to the number of separate arithmetic units available for rendering the output on a display. In general, more pipelines available on a graphical processor means there are more 3D rendering capabilities available, increasing overall 3D performance.

Pixel
All computer images are made up of tiny dots; each individual dot is called a pixel, a word created from the term "picture element." A pixel is the smallest indivisible unit of a digital image and can be only a single color. The size of the pixel depends on how the display resolution has been set. The smallest size a pixel can be is determined by the display’s dot pitch, which is measured in millimeters (mm).

Pixel Tapestry™ II Technology
A technology that uses four parallel, highly optimized rendering pipelines, each capable of handling two textures simultaneously. It provides advanced texturing, making 3D surfaces look more detailed and realistic.

PowerPlay™ Technology
A power management technology designed to dramatically reduce power consumption for AMD Mobility Radeon family of mobile graphics products. It provides an optimal balance between performance and power, delivering high-performance when required and conserving battery power when demand on the graphics processor is low.

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R

Random Access Memory (RAM)
A data storage device for which the order of access to different locations does not affect the speed of access. Data is typically stored in RAM temporarily for use by the process or while the computer is operating.

Refresh Rate
Also referred to as "vertical refresh rate," this is the rate at which a monitor or television can redraw the screen from top to bottom. NTSC television systems have a refresh rate of approximately 60 Hz, whereas computer displays typically have refresh rates of 75 Hz or more. At refresh rates of 70 Hz and lower, screen flicker is often noticeable.

Rendering
Rendering refers to the final drawing stages where the 2D image that appears on a display is derived from its 3D descriptions. What appears on the display may look three dimensional, but it is really just a 2D grid of pixels designed to give the illusion of 3D.

Resolution
The resolution of any display is the number of pixels that can be depicted on screen as specified by the number of horizontal rows against the number of vertical columns. The default VGA resolution of many video cards is capable of displaying 640 rows of pixels by 480 columns. The typical resolution of current displays is set to higher values, such as 1024×768 (XGA), 1280×1024 (SXGA), or 1600×1200 (UXGA).

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S

Saturation
Refers to the intensity of a specific hue (color). A highly saturated hue is vivid and intense, whereas a less saturated hue appears more grey. A completely unsaturated color is grey. In terms of the RGB color model, a fully saturated color exists when you have 100% brightness in one of the three channels (say, red) and 0% in the two others (green and blue). Conversely, a fully de-saturated color is one where all of the color values are the same. Saturation can therefore be thought of as the relative difference between the values of the channels.

SCART
Acronym for "Syndicat des Constructeurs d'Appareils Radiorécepteurs et Téléviseurs." SCART is a 21-pin connector used mainly in Europe for transferring analog audio and video signals between VCRs, DVD players, personal computers, and set-top boxes. It is sometimes referred to as Péritel or the Euroconnector.

Scissor Mode
A graphical load-balancing scheme where two graphics cards are used to render two halves of an image display. One graphics card renders the top half of the screen while the second graphics card renders the bottom half. This configuration offers a form of dynamic load balancing between the two cards as each only needs to render 3D object details on only half of the screen instead of the full screen at any one time. This type of graphical operation is only available in AMD CrossFire graphics cards running Direct 3D and OpenGL games or applications.

SDTV
Acronym for "Standard Definition Television." This term identifies lower resolution systems when compared to High Definition Television (HDTV) systems. SDTV systems use the same 4:3 aspect ratio and 480 scan lines to produce a picture as regular analog television sets, but digital decoding enhances the signal, displaying a sharper and crisper picture. SDTV broadcasts are either interlaced (480i) or use progressive scan (480p), the latter method providing the best overall image quality.

SECAM
An analog color video signal that originated in France and is used in many other countries, including (but not limited to) much of Eastern Europe, parts of the Middle East, and Asia. Like the PAL video standard, SECAM also draws a total of 625 vertical interlaced frames of video at a refresh rate of 25 Hz, but it uses a fundamentally different way of encoding its colors. The name is an acronym for "Séquential Couleur avec Mémoire," which is French for "sequential color with memory."

Shadow Mask
A metal plate full of tiny holes that is attached to the inside of the glass screen in CRT monitors. It focuses the beams from the electron guns at the back of the CRT. The distance between these holes is called the dot pitch.

SmartGart™ Diagnostic Tool
SmartGart is AMD's proprietary diagnostic tool that determines the user’s optimal AGP settings to ensure maximum stability. One significant cause of system hangs is the quality of the AGP bus. Since there are many types of AGP chipsets controlling the bus, the compatibility of the AGP bus varies, and it is difficult to pre-determine its quality through the display driver. With SmartGart, the driver will automatically test the AGP compatibility upon its initialization and dynamically switch to or set up the AGP bus based on the test results. This helps improve system stability..

SmartShader™ HD Technology
A technology that contains advanced vertex and pixel-shading capabilities. A shader is a small program that runs on the GPU and describes how an image should be rendered. Vertex shaders manipulate the individual polygons that make up 3D objects, and pixel shaders operate on the individual pixels that fill in these polygons to create a visible image. SmartShader HD is designed to alleviate the resource constraints of earlier shader hardware, paving the way for more complex, detailed, and realistic shader effects in applications requiring high-performance 3D rendering.

SmoothVision™ HD Technology
A technology that incorporates improved anti-aliasing, anisotropic filtering, and 3DC compression features designed to further enhance image quality. Anti-aliasing performance is improved, providing better overall detail and image quality. The enhanced anisotropic filtering ensures sharper and clearer pictures at higher frame rates, and the new 3DC compression technology makes it possible to display higher polygon counts for 3D rendered objects.

Stereoscopic 3D
Refers to a technique for creating or enhancing the illusion of depth in an image by presenting two offset images separately to the left and right eye of the viewer. These two-dimensional images are then combined in the brain to give the perception of 3-D depth.

Super Anti-aliasing
A feature that improves image quality by combining the results of full-screen anti-aliasing across two graphics cards in an AMD CrossFire™ configuration. The two graphics cards work on different anti-aliasing patterns within each frame. The results are combined by the graphics cards to produce 3D images featuring smoother contours, lines, and shading effects.

SuperTiling
A graphical load-balancing scheme where two graphics cards are used to render alternate small 32×32 pixel squares in a fine-grained checkerboard pattern. This configuration increases image rendering quality, as each card processes half of the complex 3D objects in the pixel squares. SuperTiling is better optimized for most applications than Scissor Mode (where two graphics cards are used to render the top and bottom halves of the screen), since the checkerboard pattern provides a more even distribution of what needs to be rendered. This type of graphical operation is only available in AMD CrossFire graphics cards running DirectX games or applications.

S-Video
Short for "Separate Video," S-Video is a type of analog video interface that produces a higher-quality signal compared to composite video. The signal is split into two separate channels—luminance (Y) and chrominance (C). Sometimes referred to as "Y/C video" or "Y/C," the connectors typically contain 4-pins within a single connection housing and are commonly found on consumer DVD players, VCRs, game consoles, and related devices.

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T

Tear Free Desktop (TFD)
Reduces the tearing of images in video, 3D graphics, and windowed applications in Linux environment. When enabled, TFD requires additional graphics adapter resources. This feature can be enabled within Linux Catalyst Control Center.

Texel
Short for "texture element," the 3D equivalent of a pixel, describing the base unit of the surface of a 3D object, such as a sphere; for a 2D object, such as a circle, the base unit is a pixel.

Texture Mapping
In computer graphics, two-dimensional textured surfaces are referred to as texture maps. Texture mapping is the process by which a two-dimensional surface gets wrapped around a three-dimensional object so that the 3D object takes on the same texture qualities. For example, if you take a 2D textured surface that looks like cloth and wrap it around a 3D sphere, the sphere will now appear to have a cloth-like surface.

Texture Preference
A feature enabling the user to select the texture quality level for the surface of a 3D object. Selecting the highest quality possible will provide the most realism, although it may also have some impact on the performance of any 3D intensive application.

Transition Minimized Differential Signaling (TMDS)
A technology designed to reduce electromagnetic interference (EMI) and improve the digital signal delivered to flat panel displays. Its encoding algorithm converts the original 8-bit graphic data into a more fault-tolerant 10-bit signal, which is then converted back to its original 8-bit form at the display device. The signal is also DC-balanced, allowing for the option of transmitting the signal over fibre-optic cable. DVI connectors can incorporate up to two TMDS links, with each "link" comprised of the number of signals required for standard RGB output. Higher resolutions and refresh rates than standard are possible if multiple TMDS links are available by using multiple DVI connectors.

Trilinear Filtering
A sampling method used to produce realistic-looking 3D objects. Trilinear filtering averages one of the bilinear filter mipmap levels along with the standard mipmap samples.

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U

Unified Video Decoder (UVD)
The Unified Video Decoder, previously called Universal Video Decoder, or UVD in short, is the video decoding unit from AMD Technologies to support hardware decode of H.264 and VC-1 video codec standards, and being a part of AMD Avivo HD technology.

  • UVD: Accelerates VC-1 and H.264
  • UVD2: Accelerates MPEG-2 in addition to UVD format
  • UVD3: Accelerates Multi-View Codec (3D Blu-ray) and MPEG-4 part 2 (DivX/xVid) in addition to UVD2 format

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V

Vari-Bright™ Technology
An AMD technology designed to optimize notebook panel brightness in order to save power. It allows for direct control of the notebook brightness level to prolong battery life.

Vertex Shader
Three-dimensional objects displayed on a screen are rendered using polygons, each of which is made up of intersecting triangles. A vertex is a corner of a triangle where it connects to another triangle, and each vertex carries a considerable amount of information describing its coordinates in 3D space, as well as its weight, color, texture coordinates, fog, and point size data. A vertex shader is a graphics processing function that manipulates these values, producing such things as more realistic lighting effects, improved complex textures such as hair and fur, and more accurate surface deformations such as waves rippling in a pool or the stretching and wrinkling of a character’s clothes as he or she moves.

VGA Connector
A type of graphics connector, sometimes also called an analog connector. It is the most common type of video connector available, consisting of 15-pins set in three rows. The "VGA" is an acronym for "Video Graphics Array," which is also the name for the video resolution mode of 640×480 pixels, the lowest standard resolution supported by virtually all video cards.

Video RAM
The RAM memory of the video adapter. The amount of video RAM determines what resolutions in a particular color mode an adapter supports.

VPU Recover
A feature designed to significantly reduce the number of system crashes caused by problems occurring with the graphics hardware. If the display driver detects that the graphics processor has hung, VPU Recover will attempt to reset the graphics processor, eliminating the need for a system reboot and allowing users to continue using the computer without interrupting or losing their work.

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X

Xinerama
Enabling Xinerama allows windows to be dragged between desktops in Linux environment. Disabling Xinerama allows the Display Manager to be available. This option becomes available in Linux Catalyst Control Center when more than one desktop (monitor) is enabled.

Y

YPbPr
A type of analog composite video signal that splits and compresses the standard Red/Green/Blue (RGB) colors of a television signal into separate luminance and color values. The "Y" stands for the luminance channel, while "Pb" and "Pr" represent the blue and red channels respectively, both of which have the luminance value subtracted from them. It is an equivalent color space to the chrominance-based YCbCr, which is used for digital video.

Z

Z-buffer
The portion of video memory that keeps track of which onscreen elements can be viewed and which are hidden behind other objects. In the case of a 3D image, it keeps track of which elements are occluded by the foreground in relation to the user’s perspective, or by another 3D object.

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Footnotes