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I was reading through the answers on this question listing desktop environments for Ubuntu, and I noticed that many of the more..."fancy" ones required a "3D" graphics card. But it doesn't look like there is anything really 3D in them, so why do they have that requirement?

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Might not be fancy but the framework used to design the interface requires a graphics card that supports the framework used. This an actual problem you face? – Ramhound Jun 4 '13 at 23:34
Just curiosity. It seemed odd that they would require 3D support even though they aren't 3D at all. – Zelda64fan Jun 4 '13 at 23:39
That's what you get for trying to get Windows Aero to work on your Pentium 4. – Austin ''Danger'' Powers Jun 5 '13 at 5:52
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Because many newer interfaces require texturing and rendering capabilities that 3D cards have. The same is True of Vista's / Windows 7's Aero and Mac OSX. If you want to do anything fancy and retain decent performance you need to do it on the GPU. Otherwise you are requiring the CPU to do too much and performance will suffer terribly.

A 3D GPU is massively parallel. Which means drawing a screen, manipulating it and redrawing it again takes little effort and memory.

If you want a good place to start additional research, look at Microsoft's DWM. It gives a lot of information for what these interfaces do differently than the older CPU line, by line renders.

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Saying its 3D just means the same texture code is being used. It might not actually be 3D all the time, there are 3D elements in every operating that requires it though. – Ramhound Jun 5 '13 at 10:04
That makes more sense. Thanks! – Zelda64fan Jun 5 '13 at 13:00

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