Kids, Code, and Computer Science Magazine

FPS

Eadward Muybridge

A video concept, frames per second, also applies to computer screens

I recently came across an article with the odd headline, “Google’s Dart language on Android aims for Java-free, 120 FPS apps.” Odd because FPS is an acronym for frames per second, a metric used in television and film.

Turns out FPS also applies to computers, although it’s also called frame rates. Your screen refreshes some number of times every second with each screen refresh called a frame.

With video games, especially visually dense action games where jerky motion is not acceptable, a lower frame rate can display more visually smooth realistic action. Movies use 24 frames per second and motion blur to smooth any slow images seen by human eyes. Television typically display at 30 frames per second because the human eye cannot tell any big difference between 24 and 30 frames per second. Many video games also use 30 FPS.

With computers and computer monitors, however, video game frame rates are tied to the refresh rate of monitors, which refresh at 30 and 60 frames per second. Displaying 45 frames per second, for example, would display as chopped and jerky because there is no matching refresh rate for computer monitors.

However, many games use the lower 30 frame rate to provide a smooth playback and avoid the risk of dropped images. A game rendered at 60 frames per second also renders twice as much data as the lower 30 FPS rate. For visually complex games, doubling the amount of data rendered puts an added load on any computer and risks dropped or slow frames.

 

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