Technical Terms and Definitions


Super Video Graphics Array or Ultra Video Graphics Array, 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.

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." When used as a resolution specification, in contrast to VGA or XGA for example, the term SVGA normally refers to a resolution of 800 × 600 pixels.

Though Super VGA cards appeared in the same year as VGA (1987), it wasn't 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 colours. It was quickly extended to 1024 × 768 8-bit pixels, and well beyond that in the following years.