What is a UMA graphics card?

ramone By ramone, 16th Jul 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/2vv2_hrc/
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Technology>Graphics Cards

Most people when choosing a Computer or Graphics card to buy often come across this term. This article offers some insightful explanation into its meaning in order for them to make a more informed decision on their next purchase.

Unified Memory Architecture (UMA)

UMA means Unified Memory Architecture, and essentially boils down to the "shared memory graphics card you all know. The thing is, even though you have may have 4 GB to play with in a notebook that as a UMA card performance is still slower than one with dedicated memory. UMA was one of the first attempts to reduce system cost by storing graphics data structures in system memory. Due to its design constraints, its memory allocation for graphics was fixed at up to 4MB. As well as running slower (main system memory is slower than dedicated graphics RAM) it also uses the same buses within the system to transfer data around another cause for concern because there is more contention as the memory bus has to be shared with the rest of the system. As a result, heavy graphics usage will slow down the overall speed of the system in a UMA machine.

In my opinion this graphics solutions was introduced to reduce the cost and complexity of the motherboard design and production. You can normal set via the BIOS the amount of system memory to use for graphics. One side effect of this operation is that when some RAM is allocated for graphics, it becomes effectively unavailable for anything else thus the amount the system have for other application is drastically reduced.

Hard to say exactly how good or otherwise it is that all depends on the actual make of the card, motherboard and what you intend to use it for. The majority of laptops use these, though, so they're obviously not complete rubbish. Just don't expect it to play the latest games at all well as with a Discrete Class (dedicated) Graphics machines. However it fine for application use and casual entertainment. One of the personal issues I had with this setup was the long term cost of adding more memory to offset the amount taken away for graphics was unbearable especial when you live in a country that converts $1USD to $100 local currency the we are talking about $10,000 up expenditure every time for a memory upgrade.

My opinion spend the money on a Discrete Class Graphics Card or system you can't go wrong there.


Graphic Card, Graphics Card, Shared Memory, Uma, Unified Memory Architecture

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author avatar ramone
A versatile pro-active self-motivated person who combines their interest in customer support and Information Technology skills to assist, educate and inform the masses.

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author avatar Rose*
1st Oct 2014 (#)

Great explanation!

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