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The 3D Dictionary (Page 1/26)

Written by: David "Spunk" Grampa - January 30, 2000
Last updated by: Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy - December 13, 2002

If you think of any terms to add to this dictionary, please e-mail us!

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Daughter Card - DVI (Digital Visual Interface)

Daughter Card - A daughter card is a card or board that is dependent upon another card or board in order to work properly. An example of a 3D accelerator that is a referred to as a daughter card is 3dfx's Voodoo2. The Voodoo2 was dependent upon a separate 2D accelerator that is linked to via a pass-thru cable. This is because a Voodoo2 is 3D only, and inevitably needs a 2D card to run 2D.

DDR-SDRAM - Double Data-Rate SDRAM. Memory capable of communicating on both edges of a clock cycle (the "ups" and "downs"). This theoretically doubles the memory's speed (for example, from 100MHz to 200MHz). DDR-SDRAM was first used mainstream on graphics cards such as the GeForce 256 DDR, but is now currently being implimented as a PC's main form of memory. Also see QDR-SDRAM.

Dedicated Frame Buffer - The dedicated frame buffer is a specific amount of memory set aside to store frame-buffer and/or z-buffer data on a card with a spit memory architecture. Most 3D cards have a memory architecture where the memory storing textures and the memory for the frame buffer are not separate, in such an instance a 'dedicated frame buffer' does not exist.

DVD - stands for Digital Video Disc or Digital Versatile Disc. Most believe DVD-ROMs will take place of CD-ROMs in next-gen systems.DVDs store 4.7GB of information on a single side without being multi-layered, or about seven times the storage capacity over the industry standard CD-ROM disc (which stores approximately 680mb of information). As games and other software become larger, DVDs promise to play a crucial role. Also, they have all but replaced VHS as the standard for movies.

DirectSound - Microsoft's universal sound API which helps developers optimize a game to work with many soundcards by only programming a game for one API (which is basically what an Application Programming Interface does). Part of Microsoft's DirectX package?

DirectSound3D - Also a Microsoft API, this time for positional 3D sound.

Direct3D - This is part of the DirectX family of APIs for 3D graphics. Almost all capable 3D accelerators and most games support it, making it very important for a card to have good Direct3D performance.

DirectX - Microsoft's line of generic-brand APIs. Being Microsoft born and raised, almost everyone supports DirectX. The two important DirectX related terms you'll see on this site are DirectSound3D and Direct3D.

Displacement Map - The second texture map in the bump-mapping procedure used to simulate bumpiness by depicting how light casts shadows across the surface of the original texture.

Distortion - Not the traditional distortion of sound (in a bad way), but any change in frequencies of sound from your soundcard and speakers is considered distortion.

Dithering - Dithering is a visual artifact caused by the lowering of color depth or amount of colors in an image or graphic. Examples of dithering is when a texture loses its smoothness and becomes pixelated.

DivX - Not to be confused with "DIVX" movies that could be rented from Circuit City, the "DivX" codec is based on the MPEG-4 compression format. The result is high quality video with minimal space required for storage. The trade-off is high CPU usage. This codec is often associated with movie piracy.

Dolby Digital 5.1 - See AC-3

Doppler Effecting - A sound's effect of becoming higher in pitch, then lower when passing by the point of view. In games, this is very important for realistic sound, as a rocket just wouldn't be the same passing by you without it. For more information see Aureal3D.

Driver - The specific pieces of software that tell your hardware what to do. Drivers are the crucial link between hardware and software, and explain to the operating system how to use a given piece of hardware. One of the operating system's main functions that happens behind the scenes is driver management and installation.

D3D (Direct3D) - See Microsoft's Direct3D API.

DualHead - Matrox's multiple-monitor technology is known as DualHead. This feature (first found on Matrox G400 cards) allowed users to use two monitors with a single video card, effectively expanding the desktop to double the normal width. With the advent of the Matrox Parhelia card, users could even use TripleHead, which allowed for two DVI (digital flat panel) outputs! See for more information.

DVI (Digital Visual Interface) - Digital Flat Panel monitors that use a LCD (liquid crystal display) screen almost always use the DVI (Digital Visual Interface) connectors, rather than analog RGB connectors.

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