IBM 8514

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
IBM 8514
The IBM 8514 Micro Channel adapter, with memory add-on.
Release date 1987; 29 years ago (1987)
Entry-level IBM Image Adapter/A
Predecessor VGA
Successor XGA

IBM 8514 is an IBM graphics computer display standard supporting a display resolution of 1024x768 pixels with 256 colors at 43.5 Hz (interlaced), or 640x480 at 60 Hz (non-interlaced).[1] 8514 usually refers to the display controller hardware (such as the 8514/A display adapter.) However, IBM sold the companion CRT monitor (for use with the 8514/A) which carries the same designation, 8514.

8514 used a standardised programming interface called the "Adapter Interface" or AI. This interface is also used by XGA, IBM Image Adapter/A, and clones of the 8514/A and XGA such as the ATI Technologies Mach 32 and IIT AGX. The interface allows computer software to offload common 2D-drawing operations (line-draw, color-fill, BITBLT) onto the 8514 hardware. This freed the host CPU for other tasks, and greatly improved the speed of redrawing a graphics visual (such as a pie-chart or CAD-illustration).


8514 was introduced with the IBM Personal System/2 computers in April 1987. It was an optional upgrade to the Micro Channel architecture based PS/2's Video Graphics Array (VGA), and was delivered within three months of PS/2's introduction.

Although not the first PC video card to support hardware acceleration, IBM's 8514 is often credited as the first PC mass-market fixed-function accelerator. Up until the 8514's introduction, PC graphics acceleration was relegated to expensive workstation-class, graphics coprocessor boards. Coprocessor boards (such as the TARGA Truevision series) were designed around special CPU or digital signal processor (DSP) chips, which were programmable. Fixed-function accelerators, such as the 8514, sacrificed programmability for better cost/performance ratio.

Later compatible 8514 boards were based on the Texas Instruments TMS34010 chip.

8514 was later superseded by IBM XGA.

Even though the 8514 was never a best-seller, the product created a market for fixed-function PC graphics accelerators which grew exponentially in the early 1990s.

The ATI Mach 8 and Mach 32 chips were popular clones, and several companies (notably S3) designed graphics accelerator chips which were not register compatible but were conceptually very similar to the 8514/A.

Software support[edit]

Software that supported this graphic standard:[2]

Clone hardware[edit]

Third-party graphics suppliers did not clone IBM's 8514 as extensively as VGA, this may be due to the 8514 being a GPU system not just a video memory subsystem like VGA.

IBM’s 8514/A boards were not cheap : the 8514 initially sold for $1290 for the adapter and $270 for the 512KB memory expansion. The 8514/A market was severely limited by the fact that IBM’s boards only supported MCA systems, not ISA systems that were more common at the time.

In the late 1980s, several companies reverse-engineered the 8514/A often including ISA support. Notable among those was Western Digital Imaging’s PWGA-1 (also known as the WD9500 chip set), the Chips & Technologies 82C480, and ATI’s Mach 8 and later Mach 32 chips.

The clones were all in one or way or another better than the original: faster, with enhanced drawing functionality and overall improved video mode selections.

Clone support tor non-interlaced modes like 800×600 and 1280×1024 resolutions was typical, and internally all clones had deeper command queues for increased performance.

Notable clone adapter cards

Output capabilities[edit]

The 8514 was one of the first GPUs introduced. Byte Magazine (a then popular but now defunct computer publication) wrote a long article detaining its capabilities. In its day, the 8514 was considered to be a very capable GPU card adapter for business use.

There were commands on the 8514 for drawing a very small set of graphical objects, but there was no command to draw a single pixel. The work around to the pixel writing defect was to draw a line from the intended pixel point to itself.

8514 offered:

  • 640×480 in 256 colors out of 262,144 (18 bit)
  • 1024×768 in 256 colors out of 262,144 (18 bit)
  • 640×480 text mode with 80x34 characters
  • 1024×768 text mode with 85x38 characters
  • 1024×768 text mode with 146x51 characters

Latter clone board offered additional resolutions:

  • 800×600 with 16-bit and 24-bit color depths
  • 1280×1024 with 16-bit and 24-bit color depths

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

This article is based on material taken from the Free On-line Dictionary of Computing prior to 1 November 2008 and incorporated under the "relicensing" terms of the GFDL, version 1.3 or later.