Until rather recently, video cards played a minor role in computer speed. The fact of the matter is that the display of 2D text on a black screen really does not require extensive video card power. With the advent of 3D computer gaming, a whole new weight was placed on the video card. No longer did the video card serve to only display text, but it was called upon to perform complex 3D calculations and draw a realistic 3D world on the screen. With this advancement, the 256 kb of on card video memory found on early video cards quickly filled up with the images being drawn. In order for the cards to keep up with the games, RAM had to be added at an almost exponential rate. Just how fast has this growth been occurring?
By examining the time periods during which a high performance card's memory amount increased, a trend may be found. Let us begin with the Voodoo2 a card which brought the transition from 8 MB to 12 MB of card RAM. Popular in the summer of 1998, 8 MB configurations began to disappear rather quickly with the higher performing 12 MB configuration taking charge. The next transition occurred during the summer of 1999 with the release of the TNT2. This card, which sold in both 16 MB and 32 MB configurations, drew the following conclusion as seen in our TNT2 Roundup: "The better overall decision, from a performance perspective, is to go with a 32MB card." That takes us to the summer of 2000, present day, where, lo and behold, we we find that the latest and greatest graphics processor, NVIDIA's GeForce 2 GTS, being sold in both 32 MB and 64 MB configurations. Historically, now is the time for RAM doubling to occur once again. However, is now the right time for a new standard to be set? Does the additional 32 MB of memory help in current games? How does the longevity of 32 MB cards look? By taking a comprehensive look at both the GeForce 2 GTS as well as the alternate RAM configurations, AnandTech attempts to determine if now is the time for change.