NEC µPD7220

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The High-Performance Graphics Display Controller 7220 (commonly µPD7220, NEC 7220 or GDC) is a 1982 graphics processing unit,[1][2] a video interface controller capable of drawing lines, circles, arcs, and character graphics to a bit-mapped display. It was developed by NEC, and used in NEC's PC-98 and APC computers, the optional graphics module for the DEC Rainbow, the Tulip System-1, and the Epson QX-10,[3] as well as various graphics cards for other personal computers.

The 7220 was the first true GPU (graphics processing unit),[1] designed as a microprocessor,[4] with VLSI,[5] implementing a graphics display controller as a single Large Scale Integration (LSI) integrated circuit chip. This enabled the design of low-cost, high-performance video graphics cards, such as those from Number Nine Visual Technology, and was the basis for clones such as the Intel 82720.[6] The 7220 and its clones led the early GPU market for several years,[6] and was still the best known GPU in 1986.[2] It was eventually surpassed by the more powerful Hitachi HD63484 ACRTC, released in 1984.[7][8]

Details[edit | edit source]

µPD7220 block diagram

The project was started in 1979, and a paper was published in 1981.[9] It debuted in Japan with NEC's PC-9800 series of personal computers in 1982. The 7220 was announced by NEC Information Systems, the US arm of the Nippon Electric Company (now NEC), in 1982.

By 1983, it was used in early PC-98 and APC computers from NEC itself, and other computers from Digital Equipment Corporation and Wang Laboratories.[10] A year after introduction, one journalist said "The 7220 GDC chip is a component that even some of NEC's competitors have found too good to pass up."[10] The 7220 had a fillrate of 1.25 megapixels per second and a rasterisation rate of 125 polygons (100-pixel by 100-pixel) per second, faster than central processing units (CPU) at the time.[2] The 7220's high resolution color graphics led NEC to market it as a "resolution revolution".[10]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Today's PC is yesterday's graphics workstation, The Inquirer
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 F.Robert A. Hopgood, Roger J. Hubbold, David A. Duce, ed (1986). Advances in Computer Graphics II. Springer. p. 169. ISBN 9783540169109. "Perhaps the best known one is the NEC 7220." 
  3. Dampf, Guido (1986). Graphics with the NEC 7220: Direct access with Turbo Pascal. Retrieved on 27 July 2013 (Translation of "Grafik mit dem 7220 von NEC", mc, 1986, H11, pp. 54-65)
  4. uPD7220/uPD7220A User Manual, December 1985
  5. Norman Einspruch (2012), VLSI Handbook, page 728, Academic Press
  6. 6.0 6.1 Jon Peddie, The History of Visual Magic in Computers: How Beautiful Images are Made in CAD, 3D, VR and AR, pages 225-226, Springer Science+Business Media
  7. Jon Peddie, The History of Visual Magic in Computers: How Beautiful Images are Made in CAD, 3D, VR and AR, page 226, Springer Science+Business Media
  8. PC Mag, October 14, 1986, page 54
  9. Tetsuji Oguchi; Misao Higuchi; Takashi Uno; Michiori Kamaya; Munekazu Suzuki (February 1981). "A Single-chip Graphic Display Controller". International Solid State Circuit Conference (IEEE): 170–171. doi:10.1109/ISSCC.1981.1156160. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 David Needle (March 21, 1983). "NEC's 7220 GDC chip allows high-resolution color graphics". Info World: pp. 31–34. Retrieved July 29, 2013. 

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