Video cards can be categorized into two main groups, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) and application-specific (custom) for medical or satellite imaging applications. The latter are high resolution, with precision demands greater than those a store-bought desktop PC can deliver. Precision in this case is the need to deliver truly resolvable pixels and model the behavior of the image path from source to presentation so that it conforms to the way things are seen. Eye response is inherently different from the electronic behavior of video cards and the display monitor combination. In commercial office applications it is of little importance, but for medical and satellite images it can be the difference between seeing something and not seeing it.
Some aspects of COTS and custom cards are the same because of industry standards developed over time, while other aspects of implementation vary. An understanding of the common areas will provide a foundation for understanding the “what” and “why” more precision is sometimes needed.
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