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what is a framebuffer?

Dear People,

This is possibly offtopic, but can someone explain to me what a
framebuffer is, and why one should care about it? I have seen it mentioned
quite often on this newsgroup, most often in connection with recent Matrox
graphics cards like the g400 and g450. It appears to be something to do
with video display.

As far as I know, this is something I have never used, and I only just now
seem to be hearing about it.

The following from kernel-documentation is as much as I have been able to
find out, but still does not convey much to me. Can anyone direct me to a
FAQ or something that will explain this stuff (preferably in words of one
syllable)? I'm not terribly comfortable with technical jargon.

                         Sincerely, Faheem Mitha.

The Frame Buffer Device

The frame buffer device provides an abstraction for the graphics hardware.
It represents the frame buffer of some video hardware and allows
application software to access the graphics hardware through a
well-defined interface, so the software doesn't need to know anything
about the low-level (hardware register) stuff.

The device is accessed through special device nodes, usually located in
the /dev directory, i.e. /dev/fb*.

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