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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!
Scan Line Interleave - S-Video
Scan Line Interleave (SLI) - 3dfx's patented ability to interconnect two graphics chips and alternate rendering individual lines. One chip handles rendering odd lines, while the other renders even lines. This not only makes faster framerates a given, yet with combined memory allows for higher resolutions. In the day of the Voodoo2, a serious gamer with a big budget most likely had an SLI setup, although for two-12MB Voodoo2 cards, it would run the consumer between $500 and $600 at launch, and they could still only play at 1024x768x16bpp!
SCSI - SCSI, or Small Computers Systems Interface; primarily used for connectivity of hard drives and optical devices. SCSI's key benefit over IDE is that data can be transferred directly from one device to another without going through the other components of the PC. SCSI devices are generally very fast but the prices are high because IDE is more common.
SDRAM - Synchronous Dynamic RAM, or RAM that synchronizes to the CPU bus. It can reach speeds much higher than EDO RAM and can be had with DDR, or double-data-rate processing. SDRAM is often found in PCs, notebooks, and video cards. The SDRAM modules are generally called "DIMMs", for dual inline memory module (dual 32-bit module on a single stick of memory).
Serial ATA - A standard well on its way to becoming mainstream is the Serial ATA interface. Currently, Parallel ATA (namely, the interfaces we use for connecting hard drives and CDROM drives) limits and hinders certain abilities in PC design. Serial ATA allows for many less pins for a cable, making it easier to route through a case and cheaper to produce. Also it will allow a reduction in voltage. Serial ATA is also backwards compatible with parallel ATA.
SGRAM - Stands for Synchronous Graphics Random Access Memory. SGRAM is common in video cards, and offers features such as sychronization to CPU (SDRAM can also do this, see above), and masked writes for better performance.
SIMD - Single Instruction Multiple Data. In layman's terms, the ability of a processor to perform the same operation or instruction on two pieces of data. This eliminates the CPU's need to process the same instructions over and over again, increasing performance. Intel's MMX and SSE instructions, along with AMD's 3DNow! instructions both utilize SIMD to increase multimedia and game performance.
SMARTSHADERr - Introduced in Mid-2001, ATI's SMARTSHADER technology offers a powerful means of implimenting pixel shaders. ATI claims that developers will be able to impliment such effects easier, and that the code can be longer, allowing for more complicated effects. press release.
SmoothVision - ATI's SmoothVision offers a supersampling anti-aliasing technique with support for anisotropic filtering. SmoothVision 2.0 offers a multi-sampling technique that results in better performance (supported on upcoming Radeon 9700 cards).
Software Rendering - The dreaded 'rendering mode' not applying to 3D accelerators. This is usually very slow and ugly when it comes to 3D graphics, the main reason why 3D accelerators were invented or made popular. If a game is said not to be accelerated, then it is software rendered, as the CPU does the majority of the work.
SPDIF - A connector used for transferring audio files digitally rather than in analog. It generally offers higher quality sampling than traditional analog methods and uses an optical cable or possibly digital coaxial cable for transfer. Designed by Sony and Philips, hence the name Sony Philips Digital InterFace.
Super-Sampling - The most common anti-aliasing method in the past was super-sampling. With super-sampling, a scene is rendered at a higher resolution than displayed (typically two or four times the resolution), and the color of a pixel is determined by averaging the colors of the surrounding pixels of the higher resolution scene.
S-Video - Stands for Super-Video. It works by transmitting video as two channels. One channel is sent for color and one for brightness. In general, it offers a much better picture than composite, which only uses a single wire for color. S-video is found on most new TVs, some consoles, and most DVD players and camcorders. However, it does not offer the same quality as component in most applications.