Super VGA

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Super Video Graphics Array
Release date1988; 32 years ago (1988)
Entry-levelVGA ADAPTER/132; ATI Technologies VIP (82c441), VGA Wonder; Chips and Technologies (82c441); Cirrus Logic CL-GD410/420; Compaq VGC; Everex; Genoa Systems VGA 5100-5400 (ET3000); Orchid Technology Designer VGA (ET3000), Pro Designer Plus; Paradise VGA Plus, VGA Plus 16, VGA Pro; SigmaVGA (ET3000); STB Systems VGA Extra/EM (ET3000), V-RAM VGA; Willow VGA-TV/Publisher's, VGA-TV + Genlock; Trident Microsystems TVGA8800, TVGA8900, and TVGA9000 series
PredecessorVideo Graphics Array

Super Video Graphics Array or Ultra Video Graphics Array,[1] almost always abbreviated to Super VGA, Ultra VGA or just SVGA or UVGA is a broad term that covers a wide range of computer display standards.[2]

The SVGA standard was developed in 1988, when NEC Home Electronics announced its creation of the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA). The development of SVGA was led by NEC, along with other VESA members including ATI Technologies and Western Digital. SVGA enabled graphics display resolutions up to 800×600 pixels, 56% more pixels than VGA's maximum resolution of 640×480.[3]

SVGA (4:3) compared with the other display standards.
15-pin D-sub port


Originally, it was an extension to the VGA standard first released by IBM in 1987. Unlike VGA—a purely IBM-defined standard—Super VGA was never formally defined. The closest to an "official" definition was in the VBE extensions defined by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA), an open consortium set up to promote interoperability and define standards. In this document, there was simply a footnote stating that "The term 'Super VGA' is used in this document for a graphics display controller implementing any superset of the standard IBM VGA display adapter."[4] When used as a resolution specification, in contrast to VGA or XGA for example, the term SVGA normally refers to a resolution of 800x600 pixels.

In 1988, NEC Home Electronics announced its creation of the VESA association to develop and promote a Super VGA computer display standard as a successor to IBM's proprietary VGA display standard. Super VGA would enable graphics display resolutions up to 800×600 pixels, compared to VGA's maximum resolution of 640×480 pixels—a 56% increase. Other members of VESA who worked on the SVGA standard include ATI Technologies and Western Digital.[3]

Though Super VGA cards appeared in 1988,[citation needed] it was not until 1989 that a standard for programming Super VGA modes was defined by VESA. In that first version, it defined support for (but did not require) a maximum resolution of 800 × 600 4-bit pixels. Each pixel could therefore be any of 16 different colors. It was quickly extended to 1024 × 768 8-bit pixels, and well beyond that in the following years.

Although the number of colors is defined in the VBE specification, this is irrelevant when referring to Super VGA monitors as (in contrast to the old CGA and EGA standards) the interface between the video card and the VGA or Super VGA monitor uses simple analog voltages to indicate the desired color. In consequence, so far as the monitor is concerned, there is no theoretical limit to the number of different colors that can be displayed. This applies to any VGA or Super VGA monitor.

While the output of a VGA or Super VGA video card is analog, the internal calculations the card performs in order to arrive at these output voltages are entirely digital. To increase the number of colors a Super VGA display system can reproduce, no change at all is needed for the monitor, but the video card needs to handle much larger numbers and may well need to be redesigned from scratch. Even so, the leading graphics chip vendors were producing parts for high-color video cards within just a few months of Super VGA's introduction.

On paper, the original Super VGA was to be succeeded by Super XGA[citation needed], but in practice the industry soon abandoned the attempt to provide a unique name for each higher display standard, and almost all display systems made between the late 1990s and the early 2000s are classed as Super VGA.

Monitor manufacturers sometimes advertise their products as XGA or Super XGA. In practice this means little, since all Super VGA monitors manufactured since the later 1990s have been capable of at least XGA and usually considerably higher performance.

SVGA uses a VGA connector, the same DE-15 (a.k.a. HD-15) as the original standard.

See also Digital Visual Interface which is a common non-analog cable for SVGA and other resolutions.

First manufacturers[edit]

Some of the early SuperVGA manufacturers (in parentheses, some of their models, where available) were:

Comparison chart[edit]

SVGA effectively supported resolutions like 1280x800 and higher

Pixels (Mpx) Aspect
Proportion difference of total pixels Typical
sizes (inch)
WXGA 1280 800 1.024 1.6 N/A −21% −42% −56% −63% −72% −75% 15–19 XGA
WSXGA/WXGA+ 1440 900 1.296 1.6 +27% N/A −27% −44% −53% −65% −68% 15–19 XGA+
WSXGA+ 1680 1050 1.764 1.6 +72% +36% N/A −23% −36% −52% −57% 20–22 SXGA+
WUXGA 1920 1200 2.304 1.6 +125% +78% +31% N/A −17% −38% −44% 23–28 UXGA Displays 1920×1080 video with slight letterbox
UW-UXGA 2560 1080 2.765 2.37 +170% +113% +57% +20% N/A −25% −32% 29, 34 SXGA+
WQHD 2560 1440 3.686 1.778 +260% +184% +109% +60% +33% N/A −10% 27
WQXGA 2560 1600 4.096 1.6 +300% +216% +132% +78% +48% +11% N/A 30+ QXGA Complements portrait UXGA


  1. ^ Ultra Video Graphics Array (UVGA)
  2. ^ Vipul Verma. "Same monitor yet better viewing". The Tribune. Retrieved 2008-03-26.
  3. ^ a b Brownstein, Mark (November 14, 1988). "NEC Forms Video Standards Group". InfoWorld. 10 (46). p. 3. ISSN 0199-6649. Retrieved May 27, 2016.
  4. ^ Video Electronics Standards Association (1994), VESA BIOS EXTENSION (VBE) Core Functions Standard
  5. ^ a b Unknown ATI 8-bit videocard, Google Groups
  6. ^ Need info on old Video Seven VGA card, Google Groups
  7. ^
  8. ^ VGA, or what to do with my tax return!, Google Groups
  9. ^ VGA monitor and adapter choices, Google Groups
  10. ^ IBM's EGA and VGA, Google Groups