Arcade system boards have been using specialized graphics chips since the 1970s.In early video game hardware, the RAM for frame buffers was expensive, so video chips composited data together as the display was being scanned out on the monitor.(See: Comparison of Open GL and Direct3D.) Over time, Microsoft began to work more closely with hardware developers, and started to target the releases of Direct X to coincide with those of the supporting graphics hardware.
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In 1985, the Commodore Amiga featured a custom graphics chip, with a blitter unit accelerating bitmap manipulation, line draw, and area fill functions.
Also included is a coprocessor (commonly referred to as "The Copper") with its own primitive instruction set, capable of manipulating graphics hardware registers in sync with the video beam (e.g.
Initially, performance 3D graphics were possible only with discrete boards dedicated to accelerating 3D functions (and lacking 2D GUI acceleration entirely) such as the Power VR and the 3dfx Voodoo.
However, as manufacturing technology continued to progress, video, 2D GUI acceleration and 3D functionality were all integrated into one chip.
Rendition's Verite chipsets were among the first to do this well enough to be worthy of note.
In 1997, Rendition went a step further by collaborating with Hercules and Fujitsu on a "Thriller Conspiracy" project which combined a Fujitsu FXG-1 Pinolite geometry processor with a Vérité V2200 core to create a graphics card with a full T&L engine years before Nvidia's Ge Force 256.This card, designed to reduce the load placed upon the system's CPU, never made it to market.Open GL appeared in the early '90s as a professional graphics API, but originally suffered from performance issues which allowed the Glide API to step in and become a dominant force on the PC in the late '90s.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.Fujitsu's MB14241 video shifter was used to accelerate the drawing of sprite graphics for various 1970s arcade games from Taito and Midway, such as Gun Fight (1975), Sea Wolf (1976) and Space Invaders (1978).