Super Video Graphics Array

What Does Super Video Graphics Array Mean?

Super video graphics array (Super VGA or SVGA) is a high-resolution standard used to channel video data to a compatible visual output device – usually a computer monitor. This is actually a broad umbrella term for other computer display standards. Originally, it was just an extension to the VGA standard, which was a purely IBM-defined standard also known as ultra video graphics array (UVGA).


Techopedia Explains Super Video Graphics Array

The SVGA standards have never truly been defined, and the closest to an official definition was in the VESA BIOS Extensions (VBE) created by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA). The VBE stated – only in a footnote – that the term Super VGA was used in the document to refer to a graphics display controller that implements any of the supersets of the IBM-defined VGA display adapter.

As a specification, in contrast to extended graphics array (XGA) or VGA, SVGA refers to a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels. Initially, SVGA was defined as having a resolution of 800 x 600 4-bit pixels (capable of a variety of 16 colors with each pixel). Later, it was lengthened to 1024 x 768 8-bit pixels (having an array of 256 different colors).

With the continuing innovation of technology, the number of colors has become unimportant, as the shades of each color are set by a changeable analog voltage, which theoretically means that the SVGA can display an infinite number of colors. Despite this possibility, digital video cards can only live up to the specifications of the era in which they were manufactured, limiting the amount of displayed screen colors. Another factor that can affect the number of colors is the video interface that connects the adapter and monitor, which changes the signal from digital to analog to give the monitor more color variety. Thus, the color depth largely depends on the structure of the adapter, rather than the monitor itself.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.