April 23, 2019

3D Graphics Hardware in Linux


  • May 25, 1999
  • By Will Weisner
Expert Linux users know that choosing hardware for a Linux system must be done with care to get top performance. 3D Graphics cards are no exception to this! This guide is meant to provide a complete assessment of the currently supported 3D graphics cards for Linux, and to give a quick tutorial on installing drivers for and using them.

What is a 3D Graphics Board?

Using computers to render 3D graphics is not an unfamiliar procedure. The newest 3D games are becoming more and more realistic and lifelike, while industries depend on technology such as CAD (Computer Aided Design) to model complex real-world objects without actually constructing them. Whether you require them to assist you in business or you just want to play a few games, 3D graphics hardware is becoming increasingly popular, as the speed and visual quality of the boards increases while the prices continue to drop.

3D graphics cards can work in one of two ways: either combined with a normal 2D video adapter, or as a second board which connects directly to the monitor, and interrupts the video signal through a "pass-through" from the 2D board. Either way, the 3D chipsets act on special commands which give them coordinates for 3D shapes, lighting parameters etc. Then, they very quickly render the 3D images to your monitor. How quickly? The newest 3D accelerators from 3Dfx can draw nearly 7 million polygons a second (a polygon is a multi sided 3D surface). The result is photo-realistic 3D imagery which hardly uses any of the resources of the rest of your PC.

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