Graphics

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Posted by pompos 04/30/2009 @ 16:09

Tags : graphics, software, technology

News headlines
Xerox Phaser 4510/N Monochrome Laser Printer Review - PC World
The Phaser 4510/N excels at printing plain text but falters at printing graphics. Xerox claims a top engine speed of 45 pages per minute; and in our tests, text flew out at a rate of 39.7 ppm--putting the Phaser 4510/N just a shade behind our fastest...
Mediatek Licensees Graphics Technology from Imagination. - X-bit Labs
by Anton Shilov Imagination Technologies Group on Monday said that it has signed a multi-use license agreement with MediaTek, a leading fabless semiconductor company, for a member of Imagination's PowerVR SGX graphics processor family....
Building green pays off for Edgerton graphics company - Janesville Gazette
The company, which specializes in designing and installing graphics on vehicles, pays as much for energy in its 20000-square-foot Edgerton building as it once did for a 1500-square-foot building in Madison, Rank said. Rank and his wife,...
Zune HD Tegra graphics confirmed - Mirror.co.uk
Word came through on the grapevine that the Zune HD would sport NVIDIA Tegra graphics last week, but now it's official: Microsoft says the OLED PMP will be powered by it, promising beautiful visuals and better battery life. Is it enough to tackle the...
Zinn Graphics captures Small Fry title - Brattleboro Reformer
Jordan hit a two-run homer in the top of the sixth and Zinn Graphics held on for a 19-18 victory over previously undefeated American Legion in the Small Fry baseball finale. "It was awesome. I cranked it," said Jordan, who went 3-for-4 with four RBIs...
IN THE CLASSROOM: Getting their graphics fix - Glendale News Press
“It opens up new areas of exploration,” she said, explaining that many students who previously had little experience with graphic art had become fascinated with the field through their experiences in her class. The expressive skills students pick up in...
User Reviews - PC World
Lexmark T652n Monochrome Laser Printer This printer can deliver high-volume text printing but not graphics printing--except of very simple images. HP LaserJet P4014n Monochrome Laser Printer This printer delivers powerhouse text printing on the cheap;...
Eds: In an effort to track when corrections are made to graphics ... - KXMC
AP Eds: In an effort to track when corrections are made to graphics, you can set up an e-mail notification on apexchange.ap.org. The Associated Press is no longer supporting FreeHand format and as of Dec. 1, 2008, FreeHand files were no longer...
Lowen Corporation Announces Grand Opening of Its 3M Graphics ... - Wide-Format Imaging
Lowen Certified provides professional graphics installers a portable, industry recognized certification status that will give them new advantages and benefits not found in lesser certification programs, including a place in the Lowen installation...

Graphics

A screenshot from the 2007 video game Crysis displaying extremely photo-realistic real-time computer graphics

Graphics (from Greek γραφικός; see -graphy) are visual presentations on some surface, such as a wall, canvas, computer screen, paper, or stone to brand, inform, illustrate, or entertain. Examples are photographs, drawings, Line Art, graphs, diagrams, typography, numbers, symbols, geometric designs, maps, engineering drawings, or other images. Graphics often combine text, illustration, and color. Graphic design may consist of the deliberate selection, creation, or arrangement of typography alone, as in a brochure, flier, poster, web site, or book without any other element. Clarity or effective communication may be the objective, association with other cultural elements may be sought, or merely, the creation of a distinctive style.

Graphics can be functional or artistic. The latter can be a recorded version, such as a photograph, or an interpretation by a scientist to highlight essential features, or an artist, in which case the distinction with imaginary graphics may become blurred.

The earliest graphics known to anthropologists studying prehistoric periods are cave paintings and markings on boulders, bone, ivory, and antlers, which were created during the Upper Palaeolithic period from 40,000–10,000 B.C. or earlier. Many of these were found to record astronomical, seasonal, and chronological details. Some of the earliest graphics and drawings known to the modern world, from almost 6,000 years ago, are that of engraved stone tablets and ceramic cylinder seals, marking the beginning of the historic periods and the keeping of records for accounting and inventory purposes. Records from Egypt predate these and papyrus was used by the Egyptians as a material on which to plan the building of pyramids; they also used slabs of limestone and wood. From 600–250 BC, the Greeks played a major role in geometry. They used graphics to represent their mathematical theories such as the Circle Theorem and the Pythagorean theorem.

In art, "graphics" is often used to distinguish work in a monotone and made up of lines, as opposed to painting.

Drawing generally involves making marks on a surface by applying pressure from a tool, or moving a tool across a surface. Common tools are graphite pencils, pen and ink, inked brushes, wax color pencils, crayons, charcoals, pastels, and markers. Digital tools which simulate the effects of these are also used. The main techniques used in drawing are line drawing, hatching, crosshatching, random hatching, scribbling, stippling, blending, and shading.

Drawing is generally considered distinct from painting, in which colored pigments are suspended in a liquid medium and are usually applied with a brush. Notable great drawers include Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Raphael and Leonardo da Vinci.

Many people choose drawing as a main art style, or they may use it to make sketches for paintings, sculptures and other types of art.

Woodblock printing, including images is first seen in China after paper was invented (about A.D. 105). In the West the main technioques have been woodcut, engraving and etching, but there are many others.

Etching is an intaglio method of printmaking in which the image is incised into the surface of a metal plate using an acid. The acid eats the metal, leaving behind roughened areas, or, if the surface exposed to the acid is very thin, burning a line into the plate. The use of the process in printmaking is believed to have been invented by Daniel Hopfer (circa 1470–1536) of Augsburg, Germany, who decorated armour in this way.

Etching is also used in the manufacturing of printed circuit boards and semiconductor devices.

Line art is a rather non-specific term sometimes used for any image that consists of distinct straight and curved lines placed against a (usually plain) background, without gradations in shade (darkness) or hue (color) to represent two-dimensional or three-dimensional objects. Line art is usually monochromatic, although lines may be of different colors.

An illustration is a visualisation such as a drawing, painting, photograph or other work of art that stresses subject more than form. The aim of an illustration is to elucidate or decorate a story, poem or piece of textual information (such as a newspaper article), traditionally by providing a visual representation of something described in the text. The editorial cartoon, also known as a political cartoon, is an illustration containing a political or social message.

A graph or chart is a type of information graphic that represents tabular, numeric data. Charts are often used to make it easier to understand large quantities of data and the relationships between different parts of the data.

A diagram is a simplified and structured visual representation of concepts, ideas, constructions, relations, statistical data, etc, used to visualize and clarify the topic.

A symbol, in its basic sense, is a conventional representation of a concept or quantity; i.e., an idea, object, concept, quality, etc. In more psychological and philosophical terms, all concepts are symbolic in nature, and representations for these concepts are simply token artifacts that are allegorical to (but do not directly codify) a symbolic meaning, or symbolism.

A map is a simplified depiction of a space, a navigational aid which highlights relations between objects within that space. Usually, a map is a two-dimensional, geometrically accurate representation of a three-dimensional space.

One of the first 'modern' maps was made by Waldseemüller.

One difference between photography and other forms of graphics is that a photographer, in principle, just records a single moment in reality, with seemingly no interpretation. However, a photographer can choose the field of view and angle, and may also use other techniques, such as various lenses to distort the view or filters to change the colours. In recent times, digital photography has opened the way to an infinite number of fast, but strong, manipulations. Even in the early days of photography, there was controversy over photographs of enacted scenes that were presented as 'real life' (especially in war photography, where it can be very difficult to record the original events). Shifting the viewer's eyes ever so slightly with simple pinpricks in the negative could have a dramatic effect.

The choice of the field of view can have a strong effect, effectively 'censoring out' other parts of the scene, accomplished by cropping them out or simply not including them in the photograph. This even touches on the philosophical question of what reality is. The human brain processes information based on previous experience, making us see what we want to see or what we were taught to see. Photography does the same, although the photographer interprets the scene for their viewer.

An engineering drawing is a type of drawing that is technical in nature, used to fully and clearly define requirements for engineered items. It is usually created in accordance with standardized conventions for layout, nomenclature, interpretation, appearance (such as typefaces and line styles), size, etc.

There are two types of computer graphics: raster graphics, where each pixel is separately defined (as in a digital photograph), and vector graphics, where mathematical formulas are used to draw lines and shapes, which are then interpreted at the viewer's end to produce the graphic. Using vectors results in infinitely sharp graphics and often smaller files, but, when complex, vectors take time to render and may have larger filesizes than a raster equivalent.

In 1950, the first computer-driven display was attached to MIT's Whirlwind I computer to generate simple pictures. This was followed by MIT's TX-0 and TX-2, interactive computing which increased interest in computer graphics during the late 1950s. In 1962, Ivan Sutherland invented Sketchpad, an innovative program that influenced alternative forms of interaction with computers.

During the late 1970s, personal computers became more powerful, capable of drawing both basic and complex shapes and designs. In the 1980s, artists and graphic designers began to see the personal computer, particularly the Commodore Amiga and Macintosh, as a serious design tool, one that could save time and draw more accurately than other methods. 3D computer graphics became possible in the late 1980s with the powerful SGI computers, which were later used to create some of the first fully computer-generated short films at Pixar. The Macintosh remains one of the most popular tools for computer graphics in graphic design studios and businesses.

Modern computer systems, dating from the 1980s and onwards, often use a graphical user interface (GUI) to present data and information with symbols, icons and pictures, rather than text. Graphics are one of the five key elements of multimedia technology.

3D graphics became more popular in the 1990s in gaming, multimedia and animation. In 1996, Quake, one of the first fully 3D games, was released. In 1995, Toy Story, the first full-length computer-generated animation film, was released in cinemas worldwide. Since then, computer graphics have become more accurate and detailed, due to more advanced computers and better 3D modelling software applications, such as Maya (software),3D Studio Max,Cinema 4D.

Another use of computer graphics is screensavers, originally intended to preventing the layout of much-used GUIs from 'burning into' the computer screen. They have since evolved into true pieces of art, their practical purpose obsolete; modern screens are not susceptible to such burn in artifacts.

In the 1990s, Internet speeds increased, and Internet browsers capable of viewing images were released, the first being Mosaic. Websites began to use the GIF format to display small graphics, such as banners, advertisements and navigation buttons, on web pages. Modern web browsers can now display JPEG, PNG and increasingly, SVG images in addition to GIFs on web pages. SVG, and to some extent VML, support in some modern web browsers have made it possible to display vector graphics that are clear at any size. Plugins expand the web browser functions to display animated, interactive and 3-D graphics contained within file formats such as SWF and X3D.

Modern web graphics can be made with software such as Adobe Photoshop, the GIMP, or Corel Paint Shop Pro. Users of Microsoft Windows have MS Paint, which many find to be lacking in features. This is because MS Paint is a drawing package and not a graphics package.

Numerous platforms and websites have been created to cater to web graphics artists and to host their communities. A growing number of people use create internet forum signatures—generally appearing after a user's post—and other digital artwork, such as photo manipulations and large graphics.

Graphics are visual elements often used to point readers and viewers to particular information. They are also used to supplement text in an effort to aid readers in their understanding of a particular concept or make the concept more clear or interesting. Popular magazines, such as TIME, Wired and Newsweek, usually contain graphic material in abundance to attract readers, unlike the majority of scholarly journals. In computing, they are used to create a graphical interface for the user; and graphics are one of the five key elements of multimedia technology. Graphics are among the primary ways of advertising the sale of goods or services.

Graphics are commonly used in business and economics to create financial charts and tables. The term Business Graphics came into use in the late 1970s, when personal computers became capable of drawing graphs and charts instead of using a tabular format. Business Graphics can be used to highlight changes over a period of time.

Advertising is one of the most profitable uses of graphics; artists often do advertising work or take advertising potential into account when creating art, to increase the chances of selling the artwork.

The use of graphics for overtly political purposes—cartoons, graffiti, poster art, flag design, etc—is a centuries old practice which thrives today in every part of the world. The Northern Irish murals are one such example.

Graphics are heavily used in textbooks, especially those concerning subjects such as geography, science, and mathematics, in order to illustrate theories and concepts, such as the human anatomy. Diagrams are also used to label photographs and pictures.

Educational animation is an important emerging field of graphics. Animated graphics have obvious advantages over static graphics when explaining subject matter that changes over time.

The Oxford Illustrated Dictionary uses graphics and technical illustrations to make reading material more interesting and easier to understand. In an encyclopedia, graphics are used to illustrate concepts and show examples of the particular topic being discussed.

In order for a graphic to function effectively as an educational aid, the learner must be able to interpret it successfully. This interpretative capacity is one aspect of graphicacy.

Computer graphics are often used in the majority of new feature films, especially those with a large budget. Films that heavily use computer graphics include Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter films, Spider-Man and War of the Worlds.

The majority of schools, colleges and universities around the world educate students on the subject of graphics and art.

The subject is taught in a broad variety of ways, each course teaching its own distinctive balance of craft skills and intellectual response to the client's needs.

Some graphics courses prioritize traditional craft skills—drawing, printmaking and typography—over modern craft skills. Other courses may place an emphasis on teaching digital craft skills. Still other courses may downplay the crafts entirely, concentrating on training students to generate novel intellectual responses that engage with the brief. Despite these apparent differences in training and curriculum, the staff and students on any of these courses will generally consider themselves to be graphic designers.

The typical pedagogy of a graphic design (or graphic communication, visual communication, graphic arts or any number of synonymous course titles) will be broadly based on the teaching models developed in the Bauhaus school in Germany or Vkhutemas in Russia. The teaching model will tend to expose students to a variety of craft skills (currently everything from drawing to motion capture), combined with an effort to engage the student with the world of visual culture.

Aldus Manutius designed the first Italic type style which is often used in desktop publishing and graphic design. April Greiman is known for her influential poster design. Paul Rand is well known as a design pioneer for designing many popular corporate logos, including the logo for IBM, NeXT and UPS. William Caslon, during the mid-18th century, designed many typefaces, including ITC Founder's Caslon, ITC Founder's Caslon Ornaments, Caslon Graphique, ITC Caslon No. 224, Caslon Old Face and Big Caslon.

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Graphics processing unit

S3 Graphics ViRGE

A graphics processing unit or GPU (also occasionally called visual processing unit or VPU) is a dedicated graphics rendering device for a personal computer, workstation, or game console. Modern GPUs are very efficient at manipulating and displaying computer graphics, and their highly parallel structure makes them more effective than general-purpose CPUs for a range of complex algorithms. A GPU can sit on top of a video card, or it can be integrated directly into the motherboard. More than 90% of new desktop and notebook computers have integrated GPUs, which are usually far less powerful than those on a video card.

The ANTIC and CTIA chips provided for hardware control of mixed graphics and text modes, sprite positioning and display (a form of hardware blitting), and other effects on Atari 8-bit computers. The ANTIC chip was a special purpose processor for mapping (in a programmable fashion) text and graphics data to the video output. The designer of the ANTIC chip, Jay Miner, subsequently designed the graphics chip for the Commodore Amiga.

The Commodore Amiga was the first mass-market computer to include a blitter in its video hardware, and IBM's 8514 graphics system was one of the first PC video cards to implement 2D primitives in hardware.

The Amiga was unique, for the time, in that it featured what would now be recognized as a full graphics accelerator, offloading practically all video generation functions to hardware, including line drawing, area fill, block image transfer, and a graphics coprocessor with its own (though primitive) instruction set. Prior (and quite some time after on most systems) a general purpose CPU had to handle every aspect of drawing the display.

By the early 1990s, the rise of Microsoft Windows sparked a surge of interest in high performance, high-resolution 2D bitmapped graphics (which had previously been the domain of Unix workstations and the Apple Macintosh). For the PC market, the dominance of Windows meant PC graphics vendors could now focus development effort on a single programming interface, Graphics Device Interface (GDI).

In 1991, S3 Graphics introduced the first single-chip 2D accelerator, the S3 86C911 (which its designers named after the Porsche 911 as an indication of the performance increase it promised). The 86C911 spawned a host of imitators: by 1995, all major PC graphics chip makers had added 2D acceleration support to their chips. By this time, fixed-function Windows accelerators had surpassed expensive general-purpose graphics coprocessors in Windows performance, and these coprocessors faded away from the PC market.

Throughout the 1990s, 2D GUI acceleration continued to evolve. As manufacturing capabilities improved, so did the level of integration of graphics chips. Additional application programming interfaces (APIs) arrived for a variety of tasks, such as Microsoft's WinG graphics library for Windows 3.x, and their later DirectDraw interface for hardware acceleration of 2D games within Windows 95 and later.

In the early and mid-1990s, CPU-assisted real-time 3D graphics were becoming increasingly common in computer and console games, which lead to an increasing public demand for hardware-accelerated 3D graphics. Early examples of mass-marketed 3D graphics hardware can be found in fifth generation video game consoles such as PlayStation and Nintendo 64. In the PC world, notable failed first-tries for low-cost 3D graphics chips were the S3 ViRGE, ATI Rage, and Matrox Mystique. These chips were essentially previous-generation 2D accelerators with 3D features bolted on. Many were even pin-compatible with the earlier-generation chips for ease of implementation and minimal cost. Initially, performance 3D graphics were possible only with discrete boards dedicated to accelerating 3D functions (and lacking 2D GUI acceleration entirely) such as the 3dfx Voodoo. However, as manufacturing technology again progressed, video, 2D GUI acceleration, and 3D functionality were all integrated into one chip. Rendition's Verite chipsets were the first to do this well enough to be worthy of note.

OpenGL appeared in the early 90s as a professional graphics API, but became a dominant force on the PC, and a driving force for hardware development. Software implementations of OpenGL were common during this time although the influence of OpenGL eventually lead to widespread hardware support. Over time a parity emerged between features offered in hardware in those offered in OpenGL. DirectX became popular among Windows game developers during the late 90s. Unlike OpenGL, Microsoft insisted on a providing strict one-to-one support of hardware. The approach made DirectX less popular as a stand alone graphics API initially since many GPUs provided their own specific features, which existing OpenGL applications were already able to benefit from, leaving DirectX often one generation behind. (See: Comparison of OpenGL and Direct3D).

Over time Microsoft began to work closer with hardware developers, and started to target the releases of DirectX with those of the supporting graphics hardware. Direct3D 5.0 was the first version of the burgeoning API to gain widespread adoption in the gaming market, and it competed directly with many more hardware specific, often proprietary graphics libraries, while OpenGL maintained a strong following. Direct3D 7.0 introduced support for hardware-accelerated transform and lighting (T&L). 3D accelerators moved beyond being just simple rasterizers to add another significant hardware stage to the 3D rendering pipeline. The NVIDIA GeForce 256 (also known as NV10) was the first card on the market with this capability. Hardware transform and lighting, both already existing features of OpenGL, came to hardware in the 90s and set the precedent for later pixel shader and vertex shader units which were far more flexible and programmable.

With the advent of the OpenGL API and similar functionality in DirectX, GPUs added programmable shading to their capabilities. Each pixel could now be processed by a short program that could include additional image textures as inputs, and each geometric vertex could likewise be processed by a short program before it was projected onto the screen. NVIDIA was first to produce a chip capable of programmable shading, the GeForce 3 (code named NV20). By October 2002, with the introduction of the ATI Radeon 9700 (also known as R300), the world's first Direct3D 9.0 accelerator, pixel and vertex shaders could implement looping and lengthy floating point math, and in general were quickly becoming as flexible as CPUs, and orders of magnitude faster for image-array operations. Pixel shading is often used for things like bump mapping, which adds texture, to make an object look shiny, dull, rough, or even round or extruded.

As the processing power of GPUs have increased, so has their demand for electrical power. High performance GPUs often consume more energy than current CPUs. See also performance per watt and quiet PC.

Today, parallel GPUs have begun making computational inroads against the CPU, and a subfield of research, dubbed GPGPU for General Purpose Computing on GPU, has found its way into fields as diverse as oil exploration, scientific image processing, linear algebra, 3D reconstruction and even stock options pricing determination. There is increased pressure on GPU manufacturers from "GPGPU users" to improve hardware design, usually focusing on adding more flexibility to the programming model.

Many companies have produced GPUs under a number of brand names. In 2008, Intel, NVIDIA and AMD/ATI were the market share leaders, with 49.4%, 27.8% and 20.6% market share respectively. However, those numbers include Intel's very low-cost, less powerful integrated graphics solutions as GPUs. Discounting those numbers, NVIDIA and AMD control nearly 100% of the market. VIA Technologies/S3 Graphics and Matrox also produce GPUs.

Modern GPUs use most of their transistors to perform calculations related to 3D computer graphics. They were initially used to accelerate the memory-intensive work of texture mapping and rendering polygons, later adding units to accelerate geometric calculations such as the rotation and translation of vertices into different coordinate systems. Recent developments in GPUs include support for programmable shaders which can manipulate vertices and textures with many of the same operations supported by CPUs, oversampling and interpolation techniques to reduce aliasing, and very high-precision color spaces. Because most of these computations involve matrix and vector operations, engineers and scientists have increasingly studied the use of GPUs for non-graphical calculations.

In addition to the 3D hardware, today's GPUs include basic 2D acceleration and framebuffer capabilities (usually with a VGA compatibility mode). In addition, most GPUs made since 1995 support the YUV color space and hardware overlays (important for digital video playback), and many GPUs made since 2000 support MPEG primitives such as motion compensation and iDCT. Recent graphics cards even decode high-definition video on the card, taking some load off the central processing unit.

The most powerful class of GPUs typically interface with the motherboard by means of an expansion slot such as PCI Express (PCIe) or Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) and can usually be replaced or upgraded with relative ease, assuming the motherboard is capable of supporting the upgrade. A few graphics cards still use Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) slots, but their bandwidth is so limited that they are generally used only when a PCIe or AGP slot is unavailable.

A dedicated GPU is not necessarily removable, nor does it necessarily interface with the motherboard in a standard fashion. The term "dedicated" refers to the fact that dedicated graphics cards have RAM that is dedicated to the card's use, not to the fact that most dedicated GPUs are removable. Dedicated GPUs for portable computers are most commonly interfaced through a non-standard and often proprietary slot due to size and weight constraints. Such ports may still be considered PCIe or AGP in terms of their logical host interface, even if they are not physically interchangeable with their counterparts.

Technologies such as SLI by NVIDIA and CrossFire by ATI allow multiple GPUs to be used to draw a single image, increasing the processing power available for graphics.

Integrated graphics solutions, or shared graphics solutions are graphics processors that utilize a portion of a computer's system RAM rather than dedicated graphics memory. Computers with integrated graphics account for 90% of all PC shipments. These solutions are cheaper to implement than dedicated graphics solutions, but are less capable. Historically, integrated solutions were often considered unfit to play 3D games or run graphically intensive programs such as Adobe Flash. (Examples of such IGPs would be offerings from SiS and VIA circa 2004.) However, today's integrated solutions such as the Intel's GMA X3000 (Intel G965 chipset), AMD's Radeon HD 3200 (AMD 780G chipset) and NVIDIA's GeForce 8200 (NVIDIA nForce 730a) are more than capable of handling 2D graphics from Adobe Flash or low stress 3D graphics. However, most integrated graphics still struggle with high-end video games. Chips like the Nvidia 9400M in the new Macbook and Macbook Pro have improved performance, but still lag behind dedicated graphics cards. Some Integrated Graphics Modern desktop motherboards often include an integrated graphics solution and have expansion slots available to add a dedicated graphics card later.

As a GPU is extremely memory intensive, an integrated solution may find itself competing for the already slow system RAM with the CPU as it has minimal or no dedicated video memory. System RAM may be 2 Gbit/s to 12.8 Gbit/s, yet dedicated GPUs enjoy between 10 Gbit/s to over 100 Gbit/s of bandwidth depending on the model.

Older integrated graphics chipsets lacked hardware transform and lighting, but newer ones include it.

This newer class of GPUs competes with integrated graphics in the low-end desktop and notebook markets. The most common implementations of this are ATI's HyperMemory and NVIDIA's TurboCache. Hybrid graphics cards are somewhat more expensive than integrated graphics, but much less expensive than dedicated graphics cards. These also share memory with the system, but have a smaller dedicated amount of it than discrete graphics cards do, to make up for the high latency of the system RAM. Technologies within PCI Express can make this possible. While these solutions are sometimes advertised as having as much as 768MB of RAM, this refers to how much can be shared with the system memory.

A new concept is to use a modified form of a stream processor to allow a general purpose graphics processing unit. This concept turns the massive floating-point computational power of a modern graphics accelerator's shader pipeline into general-purpose computing power, as opposed to being hard wired solely to do graphical operations. In certain applications requiring massive vector operations, this can yield several orders of magnitude higher performance than a conventional CPU. The two largest discrete (see "Dedicated graphics cards" above) GPU designers, ATI and NVIDIA, are beginning to pursue this new market with an array of applications. Both nVidia and ATI have teamed with Stanford University to create a GPU-based client for the Folding@Home distributed computing project (for protein folding calculations). In certain circumstances the GPU calculates forty times faster than the conventional CPUs traditionally used in such applications.

Recently NVidia began releasing cards supporting an API extension to the C programming language called CUDA ("Compute Unified Device Architecture"), which allows specified functions from a normal C program to run on the GPU's stream processors. This makes C programs capable of taking advantage of a GPU's ability to operate on large matrices in parallel, while still making use of the CPU where appropriate. CUDA is also the first API to allow CPU-based applications to access directly the resources of a GPU for more general purpose computing without the limitations of using a graphics API.

Since 2005 there has been interest in using the performance offered by GPUs for evolutionary computation in general and for accelerating the fitness evaluation in genetic programming in particular. There is a short introduction on pages 90–92 of A Field Guide To Genetic Programming. Most approaches compile linear or tree programs on the host PC and transfer the executable to the GPU to run. Typically the performance advantage is only obtained by running the single active program simultaneously on many example problems in parallel using the GPU's SIMD architecture. However, substantial acceleration can also be obtained by not compiling the programs but instead transferring them to the GPU and interpreting them there. Acceleration can then be obtained by either interpreting multiple programs simultaneously, simultaneously running multiple example problems, or combinations of both. A modern GPU (e.g. 8800 GTX or later) can readily simultaneously interpret hundreds of thousands of very small programs.

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2D computer graphics

Raster graphic sprites (left) and masks (right)

2D computer graphics is the computer-based generation of digital images—mostly from two-dimensional models (such as 2D geometric models, text, and digital images) and by techniques specific to them. The word may stand for the branch of computer science that comprises such techniques, or for the models themselves.

2D computer graphics are mainly used in applications that were originally developed upon traditional printing and drawing technologies, such as typography, cartography, technical drawing, advertising, etc.. In those applications, the two-dimensional image is not just a representation of a real-world object, but an independent artifact with added semantic value; two-dimensional models are therefore preferred, because they give more direct control of the image than 3D computer graphics (whose approach is more akin to photography than to typography).

In many domains, such as desktop publishing, engineering, and business, a description of a document based on 2D computer graphics techniques can be much smaller than the corresponding digital image—often by a factor of 1/1000 or more. This representation is also more flexible since it can be rendered at different resolutions to suit different output devices. For these reasons, documents and illustrations are often stored or transmitted as 2D graphic files.

2D computer graphics started in the 1950s, based on vector graphics devices. These were largely supplanted by raster-based devices in the following decades. The PostScript language and the X Window System protocol were landmark developments in the field.

2D graphics models may combine geometric models (also called vector graphics), digital images (also called raster graphics), text to be typeset (defined by content, font style and size, color, position, and orientation), mathematical functions and equations, and more. These components can be modified and manipulated by two-dimensional geometric transformations such as translation, rotation, scaling. In object-oriented graphics, the image is described indirectly by an object endowed with a self-rendering method—a procedure which assigns colors to the image pixels by an arbitrary algorithm. Complex models can be built by combining simpler objects, in the paradigms of object-oriented programming.

A convenient way to create a complex image is to start with a blank "canvas" raster map (an array of pixels, also known as a bitmap) filled with some uniform background color and then "draw", "paint" or "paste" simple patches of color onto it, in an appropriate order. In particular, the canvas may be the frame buffer for a computer display.

Text, shapes and lines are rendered with a client-specified color. Many libraries and cards provide color gradients, which are handy for the generation of smoothly-varying backgrounds, shadow effects, etc.. (See also Gouraud shading). The pixel colors can also be taken from a texture, e.g. a digital image (thus emulating rub-on screentones and the fabled "checker paint" which used to be available only in cartoons).

Painting a pixel with a given color usually replaces its previous color. However, many systems support painting with transparent and translucent colors, which only modify the previous pixel values. The two colors may also be combined in fancier ways, e.g. by computing their bitwise exclusive or. This technique is known as inverting color or color inversion, and is often used in graphical user interfaces for highlighting, rubber-band drawing, and other volatile painting—since re-painting the same shapes with the same color will restore the original pixel values.

The models used in 2D computer graphics usually do not provide for three-dimensional shapes, or three-dimensional optical phenomena such as lighting, shadows, reflection, refraction, etc.. However, they usually can model multiple layers (conceptually of ink, paper, or film; opaque, translucent, or transparent—stacked in a specific order. The ordering is usually defined by a single number (the layer's depth, or distance from the viewer).

Layered models are sometimes called 2 1/2-D computer graphics. They make it possible to mimic traditional drafting and printing techniques based on film and paper, such as cutting and pasting; and allow the user to edit any layer without affecting the others. For these reasons, they are used in most graphics editors. Layered models also allow better anti-aliasing of complex drawings and provide a sound model for certain techniques such as mitered joints and the even-odd rule.

Layered models are also used to allow the user to suppress unwanted information when viewing or printing a document, e.g. roads and/or railways from a map, certain process layers from an integrated circuit diagram, or hand annotations from a business letter.

In a layer-based model, the target image is produced by "painting" or "pasting" each layer, in order of decreasing depth, on the virtual canvas. Conceptually, each layer is first rendered on its own, yielding a digital image with the desired resolution which is then painted over the canvas, pixel by pixel. Fully transparent parts of a layer need not be rendered, of course. The rendering and painting may be done in parallel, i.e. each layer pixel may be painted on the canvas as soon as it is produced by the rendering procedure.

Layers that consist of complex geometric objects (such as text or polylines) may be broken down into simpler elements (characters or line segments, respectively), which are then painted as separate layers, in some order. However, this solution may create undesirable aliasing artifacts wherever two elements overlap the same pixel.

See also Portable Document Format#Layers.

Modern computer graphics card displays almost overwhelmingly use raster techniques, dividing the screen into a rectangular grid of pixels, due to the relatively low cost of raster-based video hardware as compared with vector graphic hardware. Most graphic hardware has internal support for blitting operations and sprite drawing. A co-processor dedicated to blitting is known as a Blitter chip.

Many graphical user interfaces (GUIs), including Mac OS, Microsoft Windows, or the X Window System, are primarily based on 2D graphical concepts. Such software provides a visual environment for interacting with the computer, and commonly includes some form of window manager to aid the user in conceptually distinguishing between different applications. The user interface within individual software applications is typically 2D in nature as well, due in part to the fact that most common input devices, such as the mouse, are constrained to two dimensions of movement.

2D graphics are very important in the control peripherals such as printers, plotters, sheet cutting machines, etc.. They were also used in most early video and computer games; and are still used for card and board games such as solitaire, chess, mahjongg, etc..

2D graphics editors or drawing programs are application-level software for the creation of images, diagrams and illustrations by direct manipulation (through the mouse, graphics tablet, or similar device) of 2D computer graphics primitives. These editors generally provide geometric primitives as well as digital images; and some even support procedural models. The illustration is usually represented internally as a layered model, often with a hierarchical structure to make editing more convenient. These editors generally output graphics files where the layers and primitives are separately preserved in their original form. MacDraw, introduced in 1984 with the Macintosh line of computers, was an early example of this class; recent examples are the commercial products Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW, and the free editors such as xfig or Inkscape. There are also many 2D graphics editors specialized for certain types of drawings such as electrical, electronic and VLSI diagrams, topographic maps, computer fonts, etc.

Image editors are specialized for the manipulation of digital images, mainly by means of free-hand drawing/painting and signal processing operations. They typically use a direct-painting paradigm, where the user controls virtual pens, brushes, and other free-hand artistic instruments to apply paint to a virtual canvas. Some image editors support a multiple-layer model; however, in order to support signal-processing operations like blurring each layer is normally represented as a digital image. Therefore, any geometric primitives that are provided by the editor are immediately converted to pixels and painted onto the canvas. The name raster graphics editor is sometimes used to contrast this approach to that of general editors which also handle vector graphics. One of the first popular image editors was Apple's MacPaint, companion to MacDraw. Modern examples are the free GIMP editor, and the commercial products Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro. This class too includes many specialized editors — for medicine, remote sensing, digital photography, etc.

With the resurgence of 2D animation and its booming popularity, software like Toonz Harlequin, CelAction, Anime Studio, Toon Boom Animation, Animaker and Adobe Flash have emerged as the new tools of choice for both amateur and professional animators.

However, the principal issue with 2D animation is labor requirements. With advanced software like Retas and Adobe After Effects, coloring and compositing can be easily done with significantly less time.

Additional software is being developed to aid and speed up the process of digital 2D animation, specifically in the area of automatic coloring and in-betweening. One such example is Cacani, developed by Singapore's NTU.

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Source : Wikipedia