Modern computers rely heavily on graphics. For example, you are most likely reading this article on a computer whose operating system is based on a graphical user interface (GUI) that serves as the primary interface between user and computer. You may enjoy playing video games or creating 3-D graphics and animations. In fact, if you are using your computer for anything other than the most basic business-oriented tasks (word processing, spreadsheets), you probably use lots of graphics.

Image courtesy 3DO
Games like 3DO's Might & Magic VIII need extremely fast graphics cards.

The graphics card in a modern PC can connect in one of several different ways:

  • Onboard - The graphics chips and memory are built right onto the motherboard.
  • PCI - The graphics card plugs into the PCI bus.
  • AGP - The graphics card plugs into a slot dedicated to graphics use.

In this edition of HowStuffWorks, you will learn about AGP, or Accelerated Graphics Port. AGP was developed by Intel as a way to enhance the performance and speed of the graphics hardware connected to a PC. You will learn how AGP came about, how it works and what the future holds for PC graphics subsystems.