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Monitors & Video Cards

Supporting I/O Devices

PC Displays

output device of a computer is the monitor

Monitor, Video Display, VDT, Screen..


necessary components for video output

Video controller Monitor

PC Displays

Cathode Ray Tube

CRT monitor uses a vacuum tube to contain the beam of electrons used to produce the image Two Types: Regular Flat-technology monitors

PC Displays

Flat panel monitors are built to receive either an analog signal or a digital signal from the video card and have two ports on the monitor to accommodate either signal


Panel Technology LCD : Liquid Crystal Display

PDP: Plasma Display Panel A gas plasma display ELD: Electroluminescent display LED: Light Emitting Diode

Display Subsystem

PCs display subsystem consists of three parts:

Video Display Adapter creates and holds the image information Monitor displays the information Cable connects the video adapter to the monitor

Display Basics
Pixels In

a CRT display device, the smallest possible pixel is actually a dot trio called a triad a red, green and blue phosphor dot set RGB Model - most common model for PC video displays

Display Basics

electronic beam is used to strike the phosphor causing it to emit light Plates on the top, bottom and sides of the CRT tube control the direction of the beam Depending on the intensity of the beam, the dot trio emits a range of colors created by mixing the 3 colors: red, blue and green

Computer Display Systems


Cathode Ray tube- the same technology employed by your television- an electron gun scans the screen causing special chemicals called phosphors to glowthe gun scans from top to bottom, left to right Video Adapter- an expansion board or integrated device that renders characters for display in response to commands from the computer- it tells the display device how to draw the graphic

Video Technologies

Monochrome- two color video- text only with a resolution of 720 x 350 Color Graphics Adapter- CGA- four colors- 320 x 200 resolution for graphics, 640 x 200 for two color Enhanced Graphics Adapter- EGA- 16 colors- 320 x 200 graphics, 640 x 350 text Video Graphics Array- VGA- introduced with the IBM AT form factor motherboards- used an analog signal- 256KB of video memory on board- 16 colors at 640 x 480 or 256 colors at 320 x 200 Super Video Graphics Array- introduced by the Video Electronics Standards Association- 65, 536 colors at 640 x 480, 256 colors at 800 x 600 or 16 colors at 1,024 x 768 Extended Graphics Array- IBMs answer to the SVGA, XGA could only use the MCA expansion bus- it also used interlacing, or scanning every other line on each pass- offered the same resolution options as the SVGA

Display Quality Measurements


Pitch- the shortest distance between two dots of the same color on the monitor
Measured in millimeters The lower the number, the sharper the image .28mm is considered average- anything smaller is great


Rate- vertical scan frequency- how many times in one second does the electron beam redraw the screen? The standard is 60Hz for VGA


Most desktop displays use a cathode ray tube (CRT), while portable computing devices such as laptops incorporate liquid crystal display (LCD) Because of their slimmer design and smaller energy consumption, monitors using LCD technologies are beginning to replace the venerable CRT on many desktops

CRT Monitor

How a CRT monitor works

DAC Converters

(DAC) Converters

integrated circuits used by display adapters

Two Ways to Paint Image on Screen:



electronic beam used to create the image is moved across the screen in a pattern similar to moving a pen or pencil over a piece of paper

Two Ways to Paint Image on Screen:


the screen is painted line by line from left to right the electronic beam is played across the screen from left to right in a straight horizontal line - moves to left and goes to next line


CRTs and LCDs use Raster-Scan to paint images to screen

Liquid Crystal Displays

Active Matrix- each LCD pixel has a transistor behind it to activate or deactivate the crystal

Very crisp and easy on the eyes Very power intensive- severely limited the amount of time a laptop could run on battery power

Passive Matrix- two rows of transistors marking the x and y coordinates of a grid- a signal voltage line is sent to the x and y coordinates, turning the corresponding pixel dark

Requires less power Sacrifices image quality Response of the screen to rapid change is poor

LCD panels

An LCD is made with either a passive matrix or an active matrix display display grid

The passive matrix LCD, which is older technology, has a grid of conductors with pixels located at each intersection in the grid. The active matrix LCD is also known as a thin film transistor (TFT) display, which has a transistor located at each pixel intersection, requiring less current to control the luminance of a pixel.

LCD panels

A color LCD must have three subpixels with red, green and blue color filters to create each color pixel Through the careful control and variation of the voltage applied, the intensity of each subpixel can range over 256 shades Combining the subpixels produces a possible palette of 16.8 million colors

LCD technology
LCDs today employ several variations of liquid crystal technology, e.g. ferroelectric liquid crystal (FLC) Display size is limited by the qualitycontrol problems faced by manufacturers


more transistors that are put in display, the chances are that the will be defective Manufacturers of existing large LCDs often reject about 40 percent of the panels that come off the assembly line

LCD Monitors

In general, an LCD panel is made of two polarized planes of glass placed at right angles (90 degrees) to each other. Sandwiched between the glass is a layer of liquid crystals. Behind the back panel is a fluorescent light source that tries to get through the two misaligned panels of glass. In the default state, the light is blocked, and the panels appear black. Unless there is a light behind the panel or a very bright light reflecting through the front panel and then off the back panel, an LCD cannot display anything.

LCD Monitors
LCD monitors use the CMY (cyan, magenta, yellow) process of building colors Triads of three crystals (each being able to pass only one primary color) are put together in a matrix By turning on one of the crystals in each triad the same effect can be produced as with an electron beam and phosphorus in the CRT monitors

LCD Monitors

liquid crystal is in a matrix or grid (rows and columns) with very thin wires leading to a set of of switches along the top and side edges of the glass panels When electric current is sent to a specific X-Y location on the grid, the liquid crystal is activated LCD monitors can be passive matrix or active matrix

LCD Monitors


One transistor switch per row and column That is, for an 640x480 VGA LCD panel, the monitor requires 640 transistor switches along the side and 480 transistor switches along the top to produce the 640x480 pixels or dots of light

LCD Monitors


The fundamental difference between the passive matrix and the active matrix is the number of transistor switches on the panel: The active matrix gives every liquid crystal its own switch. This speeds up the process of pinpointing a specific X-Y co-ordinate and also provides greater control over the crystal.

LCD Monitors

three main types of active-matrix LCD panels are: TFT - Thin Film Transistors MIM - Metal-Insulator-Metal PALC - Plasma Addressed Liquid Crystal

Maximum Resolution and Dot Pitch

Resolution refers to the number of individual dots of color, known as pixels, contained on a display. Resolution is typically expressed by identifying the number of pixels on the horizontal axis (rows) and the number on the vertical axis (columns), such as 640x480

Dot Pitch is the measure of how much space there is between a display's pixels. When considering dot pitch, remember that smaller is better. Packing the pixels closer together is. fundamental to achieving higher resolutions


For both monitors and printers we are interested in the resolution how small are the pixels (tiny dots)? Typical monitors have 640 480 or 800 600 with a screen size of 15-17 inches (measured diagonally).

For printers the resolution is in pixels or dots per inch, typically 600 dpi for a laser printer.

Refresh Rate

monitors based on CRT technology, the refresh rate is the number of times that the image on the display is drawn each second. Refresh rates are very important because they control flicker, and you want the refresh rate as high as possible.

Too few cycles per second and you will notice a flickering, which can lead to headaches and eye strain.

Color Depth
The combination of the display modes supported by your graphics adapter and the color capability of your monitor determine how many colors can be displayed. For example, a display that can operate in SVGA mode can display up to 16.8 million colors because it can process a 24-bit-long description of a pixel. The number of bits used to describe a pixel is known as its bit depth.

With a 24-bit bit depth, 8 bits are dedicated to each of the three additive primary colors -- red, green and blue. This bit depth is also called true color because it can produce the 10,000,000 colors discernible to the human eye Simply put, color bit depth refers to the number of bits used to describe the color of a single pixel. The bit depth determines the number of colors that can be displayed at one time

Color Depth Chart

1 2 4

Number of Colors
2 (monochrome) 4 (CGA) 16 (EGA) 256 (VGA) 65,536 (High Color, XGA) 16,777,216 (True Color, SVGA)

8 16 24


16,777,216 (True Color + Alpha Channel)

Things to Consider

Display technology - Currently, the choices are mainly between CRT and LCD technologies. Cable technology - VGA and DVI are the two most common. Viewable area (usually measured diagonally) Aspect ratio and orientation (landscape or portrait) Scan or Refresh Rate Interlace Features Dot pitch Resolution Color depth Amount of power consumption


measures describe the size of your display: The aspect ratio and the screen size. Aspect Ratio: Most computer displays, like most televisions, have an aspect ratio of 4:3

means that the ratio of the width of the display screen to the height is 4 to 3.


Size How to Measure Desktop vs. Laptop


or Refresh Rate, or vertical scan rate

The time it takes for the electronic beam to fill the screen with lines from top to bottom The number of times that the image on the display is drawn each second.

If your CRT monitor has a refresh rate of 72 Hertz (Hz), then it cycles through all the pixels from top to bottom 72 times a second.

flicker You want the refresh rate as high as possible Standard rate established by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) is 70Hz, or 70 refreshes per second



Multiscan monitors support a variety of refresh rates and can support different video cards Fixed frequency monitors only support a single refresh rate



Interlaced monitors draw a screen in 2 passes, hitting the even lines first, then the odd lines Non-interlaced monitors draw the entire screen in 1 pass


Dot Pitch

distance between adjacent dots on the screen. The smaller the dot pitch, the higher the quality of the image. A high-quality monitor should have a dot pitch of no more than .28mm A display normally can support resolutions that match the physical dot (pixel) size as well as several lesser resolutions.

For example, a display with a physical grid of 1280 rows by 1024 columns can obviously support a maximum resolution of 1280x1024 pixels but it usually also supports lower resolutions such as 1024x768, 800x600, and 640x480.



measure of how many dots on the screen are addressable by software Each addressable location is called a pixel (picture element) Most monitors offer a resolution of 1024 x 768 or higher The video controller card as well as the monitor must be capable of supporting the chosen resolution. Resolutions are set from the Control Panel in Windows 9X



The combination of the display modes supported by your graphics adapter and the color capability of your monitor determine how many colors can be displayed. Bit Depth : The number of bits used to describe a pixel is known as its bit depth. For example: with a 24-bit bit depth, 8 bits are dedicated to each of the three additive primary colors -- red, green and blue. This bit depth is also called true color because it can produce the 10,000,000 discernible colors.


Number of Colors
2 (monochrome) 4 (CGA) 16 (EGA)


16 24 32

256 (VGA)
65,536 (High Color, XGA)

10,000,000 (True Color, SVGA)

16,777,216 (True Color + Alpha Channel)


Power consumption Varies greatly with different technologies. CRTs are somewhat power-hungry, at about 110 watts for a typical display, especially when compared to LCDs, which average between 30 and 40 watts. Green monitor In a typical home computer setup with a CRTbased display, the monitor accounts for over 80 percent of the electricity used! Monitor that meets the EPA Energy Star program Uses 100 to 150 watts of electricity with no more than 30 watts being used when the screen saver is on

Feature Screen Size Refresh Rate Interlaced Dot Pitch Resolution Multiscan Green Monitor Description Typically 14, 15, 17 or 21 inch - refers to diagonal length of the lighted screen. It is often shorter than advertised. Vertical scan rate - time it takes an electronic beam to fill screen. Should be minimum of 70Hz (70 times/sec.) Only refreshes half the screen on every pass. Distance between adjacent dots. Ex: .28mm The smaller the pitch, the higher the quality. How many spots or pixels are on screen. Ex: 640 x 480 Monitors that offer a variety of refresh rates. Supports EPA Energy Star program, uses no more than 30 watts and can go into sleep mode after inactivity.

Some Features of a Monitor


(extremely low frequency) emissions matching a monitor to a video card, consider matching a
14-inch monitor with a low-end video card 15-inch monitor with a midrange card 17-inch or larger monitor with a high-end card for best performance


Display Adapter or Graphics Card

Creates and holds the image information Older technology: specialized circuitry on the system board Newer technology: a Plug-In Card - often referred to as the PCs Video Card Graphics cards are known by many names, such as: Video cards Video boards Video display boards Graphics boards Graphics adapter cards Video adapter cards Graphics Accelerators

Display Adapter Standards


original: MDA - Monochrome Display Adapter MGA - Monochrome Graphic Adapter CGA - Color Graphics Adapter

1981 IBM - 4 colors


- Enhanced Graphics Adapter

1984 - IBM integrated color and monochrome systems 16 colors

Display Adapter Standards


- Video Graphics Array

1987 - IBM


became the industry standard and further extensions were developed: SVGA - Super VGA AVGA - Accelerated VGA - supports Windows Graphics XGA Extended Graphics Array

1990 - IBM

Display Adapter Standards


- Ultra Extended Graphics Array

Most displays sold today support the UXGA standard. UXGA can support a palette of up to 16.8 million colors and resolutions of up to 1600x1200 pixels, depending on the video memory of the graphics card in your computer

Display Adapter Standards


typical UXGA adapter

takes the digital data sent by application programs stores it in video random access memory (VRAM) or some equivalent uses a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) to convert it to analog data for the display scanning mechanism Once it is in analog form, the information is sent to the monitor through a VGA cable.

Display Adapter Standards


Digital Video Interface

Since today's VGA adapters do not fully support the use of digital monitors, a new standard, Digital Video Interface (DVI) has been designed for this purpose. DVI keeps data in digital form from the computer to the monitor, virtually eliminating signal loss (degradation). Will need a DVI monitor with a DVI compliant graphics card.

Graphics/Video Card

expansion card responsible for

Receiving data and instructions from the CPU Processing the data Sending the results to the monitor


main features of a video card

The bus it uses (influences speed and performance) Amount of video RAM it has or can support

Graphics/Video Card

Four basic functions of a video card

Video Card Performance


on the video card is affected


Chip set Memory RAM DAC Bus speed and size


of improving performance

Dual-porting Place a processor on the video card to make it a graphics accelerator

Graphics Accelerator

type of video card that has its own processor to boost performance Necessary with the demands that graphic applications make in the multimedia environment Processor is specifically designed to manage video and graphics Their features reduce the burden on the system board CPU and perform the function much faster than the system board CPU

Graphics Accelerator Features


decoding 3-D graphics Dual porting Color space conversion Interpolated scaling EPA green PC support Digital output to flat panel display monitors Applications support for popular highintensity graphics software

Video Memory

to handle large volume of data generated by increased resolution and color Stored on video cards as memory chips

How Much Video Memory Is Needed?



Screen resolution (measured in pixels) Number of colors (color depth) Enhancements to color information called alpha blending

Types of Video Memory


(video RAM) MDRAM (multibank DRAM) SGRAM (synchronous graphics RAM) WRAM (Window RAM) 3D RAM