Thursday, May 14, 2015

Investigation of Memory, Sound and Displays

Hey Everyone!

I'm moving onto talking about memory, sound and displays now. So before I forget anything I'll be starting with memory.
So the purpose/idea of memory be it in a computer or a console is keep the information and store it so that it will be processed by the central processing unit (CPU). If the CPU in your computer had to constantly retrieve each and every piece of information that it needed then you would find it very hard to actually do anything on the PC as it would be very slow and it would have trouble to function properly.
So you have different types of memory and each has a different way of doing things. To start with you get Random Access Memory or RAM for short, this is the type of memory which is only available until that PC or console is turned off. Its called RANDOM Access memory because the memory data can be retrieved from the chip without being in a certain order so it can literally be randomly accessed.
There is two main types of RAM that are available which are DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) and SRAM (Static Random Access Memory). These two are very different from each other as they don't use the same technology.

Starting with DRAM its the more commonly used type of RAM as its the cheaper one to manufacture, However that doesn't mean its the better one to use. So the memory chip for DRAM is created by a collection of transistors and capacitors, bearing in mind there will be millions of these involved, and these all come together to make a memory cell. The capacitors will keep hold of the information whilst the transistors act like a switch the allow the data to be viewed. Think of it like a sink with a bad plug and the capacitor holds the information like a sink would hold water. But because the sink has a bad plug the water leaks out and has to be refilled, this is what happens with the capacitor as it looses information it has to have more data added and its added by the CPU. This is the reason its called Dynamic RAM because if its not refreshed then it forgets what its holding. All of this takes time which slows the speed of the memory, and this is ones of the differences between DRAM and SRAM.

Moving onto SRAM so unlike DRAM, SRAM doesn't need to be refreshed. This is because Static RAM has an electrical circuit which holds the different bits of memory. Each of the memory cells include 4 or 6 transistors along with the wiring and this is the bit which makes it better than Dynamic RAM because no refreshing is needed! so it allows it to be much more quicker. However like everything there is a down side to Static RAM which is that due to the more parts and that the memory cell takes up much more room on the chip than the dynamic memory cell, it just costs alot more to create.  
Rambus Dynamic Random Access Memory (RDRAM) is another type of memory and kinda works in the same sort of way to DRAM but is alot faster as it has a high speed data bus. IT has been used in past consoles for instance the Playstation 2 which had 32MB of RDRAM and also the Playstation 3 that had 256MB RDRAM, there is a sex year gap between the two consoles and in that time Sony was able to allow the PS3 to have a much larger memory capacity. 

So we all know how different modern TV’s are compared to old TV’s, and how older ones look bigger width wise and effectively looked like boxes, well that’s not the only new enhancement to TV’s.
Most modern TV’s to this date use something called Liquid Crystal Display technology, or when your reading a label or a description of a TV it would say the shorter name for it, LCD Display. How these work are by the pixels get switched on and off by using the liquid crystals to rotate light which travelling from the back of the TV to way up front on the screen.
Most people of this day and age have colour monitors, meaning each pixel is created through 3 different sub-pixels. There is a Red Sub-pixel, a Green Sub-Pixel and a Blue Sub-Pixel. These 3 colours could create up to 16 million and possibly a bit more when they are paired up with at least 256 shades of each of the sub-pixels. The shorter name for the sub pixels is RGB, for Red, Green and Blue.

So we all know what a handheld platform is and how they also too include a small display to work from, one example of a handheld platform which has a display would be the Sony PSP which has an LCD display of a resolution of 480 x 272 (Length by height). Handheld devices such as the iPhone 4 has a LCD screen at a resolution of 640 x 960. 

Okay Sound is the final part that I will talking about for this post. Right, before sound cards were developed computers weren't able to make any real sounds the only thing they could make was a singular beep. This beep was able to change depending on the length it was playing for and the frequency it was playing at. When this beep was first used it was there to point out that there was a warning or it was signalling something, however later on PC game creators developed music for early games. This music was made up of beeps of different lengths and pitches, so it wasn't quite as you and I would picture video game music to be nowadays. The game music we know of contains much more realistic sounds which are of a high quality and fit well with the depending on what happens in the game. 
Most modern day PCs allows 3-D audio for games and Surround sound playback for DVDs. It can also allow you to capture and record sounds from external sources. The most simple sound card includes four components:
  • analog-­‐to-­‐digital converter (ADC)
  • digital-­‐to-­‐analog converter (DAC)
  • ISA (Industry Standard Architecture) or PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect)
  •  interface which connects the card to the motherboard
  • Input and output connections for microphones and speakers
Unlike computers some gaming consoles have a processor which is there to create the sounds instead. These are called Media communications Processors (MCP) and are rather powerful and are capable of created 3D sound of an extremely good quality.
Like I mentioned earlier there are two types of sound that PCs can play, these being 3D sound and Surround Sound.
 3D sound which is used by game designers to allow for realistic and dynamic sound in which changes based of the players position. However, it can be played from different directions. So this could be an explosion being on the right hand side but say if you were wearing a headset then you could hear it through the right headphone. 
Surround sound unlike 3D sound produces sound from several different directions. Change on the listeners action doesn't affect the sound and where it would be coming from. home theatre systems commonly use surround sound as it brings the viewer more into the film. 

I hope you enjoyed reading until next time 
Fairwinds internet travellers!

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