Understanding Hardware Technology for Gaming Platforms

In this blog I will be talking about the different hardware in technology for the different gaming platforms. I will be describing their features and their purpose of the technology and also talking about what platform types it can be used for.



Graphic Processor

A graphics processing unit (GPU) which is sometimes called a visual processing unit (VPU) is a dedicated graphics translation device for a personal computer, workstation or game console. The modern GPUs are very efficient at controlling and displaying computer graphics. It is a computer chip that performs rapid mathematical calculations, primarily for the purpose of translating images.

They are sometimes known as graphic cards and video cards and they come in a variety of different models with different options available for different reasons, depending on what you need them for. Although there are many different graphic cards to choose from, all graphic cards come in 4 simple and basic types. If anyone is upgrading their computer, buying a new machine of just learning a little about how their machine works should be aware of what different kinds of graphic cards you can get.

Here are the 4 main types of graphics cards:

  1. Integrated: if you have a computer and did not assemble it yourself, or haven’t upgraded it in anyway, the chances are that it is using an integrated graphics card to display images on your screen. When someone describes a graphics card as integrated, they are referring the cards relationship with the computers motherboard. The integrated graphic cards are sometimes known as on-board graphics cards, they are the default option that comes with a standard motherboard. They can be upgraded, but it requires plugging a new graphics card into the computers motherboard and ignoring the old card. The integrated card is the least powerful out of all 4 of them. If you have an integrated card and you want to play the latest videos games off it, you will need to upgrade.
  2. PCI: Theses type of graphic cards is used in the PCI slot on the computers motherboard to connect to your computer. PCI cards do work, but they are quickly dying out, this is because the PCI is not fast enough to keep up with many of the graphics on today’s computers. Many older motherboards do have PCI slot, but lack in newer varieties of connections, for this reason there is still a definite reason to buy these cards, but only if you are trying or thinking of upgrading an older system.
  3. AGP: known as the Accelerated Graphics Port, these graphics cards are named for the same thing as PCI graphics cards, the slot they connect to on a motherboard. AGP cards can have up to 4 speeds, 8x being the fastest. If the motherboard you have in your system only funds a lower speed such as 1x, 2x, and 4x, then the graphics card will behave as if is it of that slower speed, rather than its regular speed. The AGP connections are not as fast as the PCI-express slots, this is due to technological limits, and as a result of this they will not be developed to run at higher speeds. There have actually been 4 generations of AGP cards, the only difference between the generations is the cards throughput, and the throughput refers to the amount of data that the bus can accommodate. The different generations of AGP cards are stated in the terms of a multiplier. The first generation of AGP are known as AGP 1X and it has a throughput rate of 264 Mbps. AGP 2X devices have double the throughput of AGP 1X with a total of 528Mbps of throughput.


NURBs (Non-uniform Rational B-spline)

These are mathematical representations of 3D geometry that can describe any shape, from a simple 2D line, circle, arc or curve, to the most complex 3D form surface or solid. Because of how flexible and accurate they are, NURBs can be used in any process, from illustration and animation to manufacturing. NURBS are used in computer graphics and the CAD/CAM industry and have become views as a way to create represent complex objects. NURBS are compact terms that can be evaluated and displayed quickly, the work especially well in 3D; this allows a designer to easily work control vertices, also called ISO curves. NURBS are described by both control points, it takes very little data to define a NURB.

A spline is normally a curved pattern that is used to guide someone shaping something large, such a base of a boat. The B-spline (B stands for basis) is based on 4 local functions or control points that lie outside the curve itself. Non-uniform is the idea that a section of a particular o shape between 2 points can either be shortened or made relatively longer to other sections of the shape. Rational describes the ability to give more weight to some points of the shape than to other points of the shape, only if the positions are in relation to each other.



These are used in computer and gaming graphics to compose images that will be three-dimensional when they appear on a screen. Usually, but not all the time, they appear in a triangular shape. The polygons arise when the surface of an object is modelled, the vertices are selected and the object is reduced in a wire frame model. This is a much quicker way to display rather than a shaded model, therefore the polygons are a stage in the computer and gaming animation process.

Polygons are named according to the number of sides they have, combining a Greek-originated number and adding ‘gon’ at the end of it, e.g. pentagon, octagon.




When you see an image appear on your screen, that image is made of tiny little dots called pixels. At common resolution settings, a screen can display over a million pixels and the computer has to decide what to do with every single one of them pixels in order to create an image. To do this a translator is needed, something that will take the binary data from the CU and turn it into a picture that you can see.











Memory is essential to system performance. By adding more memory to your system you will be able to increase the systems performance. The most current type of memory for computer gaming is DDR3 SDRAM (Double Data Rate type Three Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory). Compared to the older DDR2 SDRAM the DDR3 has a higher bandwidth performance, that can transfer data over twice as faster and it also consumes less power.

Computer memory is a physical device that is capable of storing information temporarily or permanently. For example RAM (Random Access Memory) is a type of explosive memory that store information on an integrated circuit, and it can used by the operating system, software, hardware or the user of the computer. If you think about it, there are so many different types of electronic memory that you come across in your daily life

It can be very common for people who are new to using computers to get confused by what parts of the computer are memory. Although both the hard drive and RAM are considered memory, it is more correct to refer RAM as memory of primary memory that hard drive as storage and secondary storage and not memory.

If you were planning on building a new gaming computer, then you probably know that having the correct memory is important. In the simplest of terms, your computer’s memory gives your processor a place to carry out its processes. The more memory you have, the quicker it will function and the faster your processor can access important files, but of course in gaming, there is only so much memory that can be held.

4-8GB is all that is needed in order to max out the potential of adding more RAM, however, if you are planning on doing other process-intensive tasks like video and image editing, and then more RAM would come in handy.


Types of RAM

There are different types of RAM. The most common ones are SRAM, DRAM, SDRAM, DDR, and DIMM. Each one of these has their own speed and capacity that will specific for your computer’s needs.

  • SRAM: Static Random Access Memory, this uses multiple transistors, normally about 4 to 6 for each of the memory cells, but does not have a capacitor in each cell. This is normally and primarily used to cache things.
  • DRAM: Dynamic Random Access Memory, this has memory cells that a paired with the transistor and capacitor that requires constant refreshing.
  • SDRAM: Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory takes advantage of the burst mode concept to greatly improve performance. It does this by staying on the row containing the requested bit and moving rapidly through the columns, reading each bit as it goes.
  • DDR SDRAM: Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory, this is just like the SRDAM, apart from the fact that it has higher a bandwidth, therefore meaning a greater speed.
  • DIMM: Dual In-live Memory Module, this comprises a set of dynamic random-access memory integrated circuits These modules are mounted ona printed circuit board and designed for use in personal computers, workstations and servers.


The memory demands for the gaming world have dramatically of the over the years, it almost double every time a new version of windows or a new console is released. At the moment, having 2gb of memory would be enough to run windows 8 smoothly, but it would not be enough to be able to play a game well or smoothly. But if you had 3gb it would be ok for playing games, but having 4gb would be even better. When windows 98 was out about 15 years ago, 256mb of memory was enough or a standard game on a PC, but 512mb would be even better for the hard core gamers. But memory is needed whether it is on a computer or a gamin console, there more memory there is the faster and smooth the games can be played.


Unified RAM

Unified RAM is a computer memory design that is used in parallel computers, and it allows a GPU to share system memory. In computer designs, shared graphics memory refers to a design where the graphics does not have its own dedicated memory, and it shares with the main system RAM with the CPU and other components of the system. As the RAM is being shared by the graphics processor, this is allowing the on-board RAM to be set aside for graphics when it is needed. This is a new thing that has happened and even though it is not a pure graphics RAM, it will allow memory usage by the core processor; this is so that the graphics card can do good stuff with the problem of doing the same boring routines.















Sound is used in computer and gaming. In computers it used to alert any problems that may be wrong with the system, but also to play videos and music out loud. In gaming it is used to make games more interesting



Sound Cards

Sound cards can also be called and stated as a sound board or an audio card. It is an expansion card or an integrated circuit that provides a computer or gaming console with the ability to produce sounds that can be heard by the use of speakers or headphones. The computer sound card is considered minor piece or hardware. Although the computer does not need a sound card to function, almost every computer made today will include a sound card in the expansion slot or on the motherboard.

Sound cards are able to provide improved audio in computer games. These cards provide improved 3D audio and provide an improvement to the audio that is not normally available with integrated alternatives, at the cost of it is slightly lower for the overall performance.

The sound card used to be separate from the motherboard, but now they are part of the board, this is now taking away some of the compatibility issues, but by having the card integrated into part of the motherboard, the quality of the sound will not be as good as it would be if it was on a separate card.

The soundcard has different connections called audio ports or audio jacks, and the different connections are associated but different colours and usually have a connector symbol next to each of the connections:

  • Digital Out, this is either a yellow or white connection with the words ‘digital’ or ‘digital out’ next to it connection, and this is used to connect surround sound or loudspeakers.
  • Sound in or line in, this is normally blue, with and arrow pointing into some waves, this is used for external audio sources, such as a tape recorder, record player or a CD player.
  • Microphone or Mic, this is normally pink with a microphone pictured next to it, this is for the connection of a microphone or headphones.
  • Sound out or line out, this is normally green, with an arrow pointing out of some waves, this is its primary connector for headphones or speakers but it also has a second connection which is black and a third which is orange.
  • MIDI or Joystick, this is a 15 pin yellow connector and was used in earlier sound cards and it is used to connect MIDI keyboards or a joystick for gaming.



Mono Sound

Mono sound also known as monophonic sound reproduction is a single sound channel. Normally there is only one microphone and one loudspeaker, and the channels are fed form a common single path. In the case of multiple microphones the paths and channels that reach them are mixed into a single at some stage.

Mono sound has been replaced by stereo sound in most entertainment products, but however it still remains the standard for radiotelephone communications, telephone networks and audio induction loops which are used in hearing aids.

Stereo Sound

Stereo sound, also known as stereophonic sound is a method of sound that has two independent audio channels. Theses tow channels are played back all together via separate speakers. This creates a fuller sound and provides the ability to mix certain sounds between the two channels.

3D Audio

3D Audio effects are a group of sound effects that operate the sound that is produced by the stereo speaker, surround-sound speakers or headphones. In sometimes involved the near placement of sound sources anywhere in a three-dimensional space, this can include behind, above or below the listener.










A standalone device is something that is able to function, freely of other hardware, this means that it is not integrated into another device.

When computer gaming was first produced, gaming was a standalone thing. You could have up to 4 players and each player would play in the corner of the screen. Today games are still standalone, but that is not why we still buy them, we could all play COD until we have completed it and it is done, that could take up to 6 hours, but then once we have done that we will go online and spend weeks or even months still playing it. The individual play and nature of games has always been around, and two player games have been around since Pong and 4 player games came around later on with the game Sega Rally in the arcades.

Standalone can also refer to a piece of software programming that does not require any software, other than the operating system to run, this means that most software programmes are standalone programmes.


Controller Ports

As a girl, playing a game fifa on a Friday night is not my cup of tea, but if I was one of the lads, I would probably think a lot more different, a night in playing against friends! Well by having controller ports it allows us to have more players. The Sega Saturn was one of the first gaming consoles to do this, followed by the PS2 and the Dreamcast. Nowadays having a games console or game that doesn’t have multiplayer is probably unheard of. The ports and connections have changed with each generation of console until the USB became standard, but the 4 way option makes gaming more of a group thing.

It was originally release by IBM in 1981 as separate part of the expansion card for the first IBM PC. This design allowed it to have 4 analogue axes and 4 buttons on one port; this allowed 2 joysticks or 4 paddles to be connected via a special Y splitter cable. The game port was traditionally the connector for joystick input devices until it was replaced by the USB in the 21st century.

Now even on handheld gaming devices it became accepted on the Gameboy Advance that having 2 players connect with a wire was better than one player, and gaming companies took advantage of this. The other player who you would be playing with, would become called A1 on the screen of the opposing player, this would process more power to the CPU. But it also gave the device less storage thinking in terms of movement.



Network gaming play came into place when games such as Doom, Quake and ROTT were released, and when midnight gaming clubs became fashionable. But today network gaming is a global trend with the internet, but before all that the rise in the number of multiplayer games and multiplayer contests grew out of proportion the numbers were that high.

A social network game is a type of online game that is played through the use of social networking sites and it allows friends to play head to head against each other or player together online. Social networking games are often executed as browser games, but they can also be put into action on other platforms such as mobile devices. While there many aspects that they share with traditional video games, social networking games often engage and incorporate different aspects to the game to make them more distinct.



Playing games on the internet as a group is the current wave of team playing relationships. With every FPS (first-person shooter) game that is released has internet play as its hope, the more players that play the more game, the loyalty they have. The communication lines that are now available can now allow for the mass play within games and new game to expect at least 30,00 players battling and playing against each other in a single conflict. A fine example of communication lines and how many people use them, the crashing of the game GTA online, this is a key indication of the amount of player who believe that online play is the only type of play.




Wireless and Bluetooth

Wireless and Bluetooth are the more subtle way or compensating for the amount of network and internet play. To be able to link to someone close with wireless or Bluetooth like a Nintendo DSI for more of a private play. A game I know that took advantage of this was the nintendogs game for the Nintendo DS, you were able to go something called ‘dog mode’ and this allowed you to connect with your friends via the wireless connection and play together on your own private game.

Another game that took instant advantage to the private communication was Draw It which is a game that allowed you to draw a something and another person a friend for example would have to guess what it is.







Game Storage

Storage limitation’s alongside graphics has been a large interruption when it comes to moving the market forward. The Gameboy dominated the gaming market for at least 10 years, without moving forward, this is because the technology was not there to replace it. The first arcade gaming machines had about 4k of memory, and at the end of its era, that memory had expanded up to 64mb.

Home consoles such as Odyssey, Magnavox and Atari 2600, left the memory capacity up to the cartridge, with 48k on board to store the scores players were gaining. Every generation of gaming console since these home devises has double the memory capacity on release. When the Xbox was being released, it had a hard drive memory of 20gb. This was a revolution in the gaming industry, unless you were a PC owner.

The cartridge and game discs were an issue when it came to memory; the Nintendo 64 had 8mv of storage, and the cartridge had up to 16mb for its later games. To store a whole game in there on the amount of memory available, it meant that system and game would have to compromise. This meant that graphics could not be as realistic as they could be, game could not have hundreds of different level with different graphics, so they would have to repeat the previous graphics form previous levels. Some games even limited to bitmap or vector images, but they were rarely in the same game. For example Mario Kart, the trees incorporated in the game were not solid, but they were X shaped, not 3D modelled.

Storage is important when it comes to the development of games. When the PlayStation and Saturn we released, the gaming world had moved over to CD, 660mb of data. This meant they could have more cut scenes, more levels vector and bitmap images and also they could include and incorporate more realistic voices and sounds. When games like FF7 were released and came into stores, it had up 20 hours of film sequences added to it, realistic faces. Gaming consoles would finally have what PCs had, and that was the real difference. The DVDs and BluRay were released, this gave more capacity for more, bigger and better sequences with more film and more realism with hardly any restrictions.




Power Supply

Power supply unit (PSU) is a piece of hardware the supplies power to an electrical device. It does this by receiving an electrical outlet and converts the current from an alternating current (AC) to a direct current (DC), this is what the computer requires.

The power supply is in essential part of any computing system and must be able to function correctly for the rest of the components of the device to work.

The power supply unit can be located on the system unit; this is simply by locating and finding the input of where the power cord is plugged in. Without having to open up your computer, it is typically the only part of the power supply that you will be able to see.


Internal Power Supply

The internal power supply (IPS) is the actual element that is used to supply the parts of the computer with power. It does this by converting possibly lethal 11-115 or 220-230 volt (the AC) into a steady and low-voltage direct current (DC). The power supply is rated by the number of watts that is generated, for example, the Antec True 330 has a watt of 330 power supply.


External Power Supply

External Power Supply (EPS) convert a household electric current into a direct current (DC) or a lower voltage. As most actually probably al computers and gaming systems have an internal power supply, many electronic devices also have external power supplies as well. For example, some monitors and external hard drives have a power supply that is often outside the main unit.


Uninterruptible Power Supply

Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), is a power protection device that will regulate the incoming power to acceptable limits and will also supply a limited amount of power when there is no more mains power. It has number of different functions that are designed to protect almost every electronic device.


Power supply is often over looked, but the Power Supply Unit (PSU) is still an important component to consider. The wattage that is needed to run a system is very much dependent on the type of hardware it has, so often the PSU will have to calculate and determine what wattage is needed. In addition to all this, the future upgrades in the gaming industry will possibly require more power, as the PSU lose power as they age and get older, so sometimes it is often a good idea to but a new PSU that has the capability of lasting a good several years and through all the upgrades, but not only must the PSU last, but it will also need to be well-suited an be able to work with the other pieces of hardware.


There are two different types of PSU, these are:

  • Modular PSU (MPSU)
  • Non-Modular PSUs

The non-modular PSUs come with fixed cables, this means that unused ones will be left unconnected. Both is the PSUs fulfil the same purpose, but very often the modular PSUs (MPSU) are preferred as they allow for better cable management, as they remove the issue of the unused cable clutter that the non-modular PSUs have.










Mobile Platforms

A mobile game is a video that is played on a feature phone, smartphone, PDA or tablet computer. This can also include games that are played on handheld video game systems such as the Nintendo DS or the PlayStation Portable (PSP).

The first game on a mobile phones was Tetris on the Hagenuk MT-2000 device and this was from 1994, but 3 years later the infamous game Snake was released on the Nokia phone models in 1997. Snake and the other games like it were already preinstalled on the mobile devices, that were manufactured by Nokia. Snake became the most played game worldwide, and was found on more than 350 million devices across the whole world.

Now games are usually downloaded via the mobile operator, but still in some cases the games are embedded in the handheld device.

The first downloadable content was introduced in 2000, but mobile games that were distributed by the mobiles operator still remained, this was until the Apple App Store was launched in 2008. The App Store was the store that was directly operated by the mobile platform holder.



The iPhone is a line of smartphones that is designed and marketed by Apple Inc. each device that is owned by Apple runs on Apple’s iOS mobile operating system.

The first generation of iPhone was released in 2007, and the most recent iPhone was the seventh generation of the phone and they were released and introduced in 2013.

The iPhone is built around the device’s multi-touch screen, also including a virtual keyboard. It has a Wi-Fi connection that can connect many different networks. Functions of the iPhone are things such as referencing work, social network and video game, this able to happen by downloading things and apps form the App Store, which offers over a million apps provided by apple and third parties.







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