Raster-Scan Displays

In a raster- scan system, the electron beam is swept across the screen, one row at a time from top to bottom. As the electron beam moves across each row, the beam intensity is turned on and off to create a pattern of illuminated spots. Picture definition is stored in memory area called the refresh buffer or frame buffer. This memory area holds the set of intensity values for all the screen points. Stored intensity values are then retrieved from the refresh buffer and “ painted” on the screen one row (scan line) at a time (fig.below). Each screen point is referred to as a pixel or pel (shortened forms of picture element).

Refreshing on raster-scan displays is carried out at the rate of 60 to 80 frames per second, although some systems are designed for higher refresh rates. Sometimes, refresh rates are described in units of cycles per second, or Hertz (Hz), where a cycle corresponds to one frame. At the end of each scan line, the electron beam returns to the left side of the screen to begin displaying the next scan line. The return to the left of the screen, after refreshing each scan line, is called the horizontal retrace of the electron beam. And at the end of each frame (displayed in 1/80th to 1/60th of a second), the electron beam returns (vertical retrace)to the top left corner of the screen to begin the next frame.

On some raster-scan systems (and in TV sets), each frame is displayed in two passes using an interlaced refresh procedure. In the first pass, the beam sweeps across every other scan line from top to bottom. Then after the vertical retrace, the beam sweeps out the remaining scan lines(fig.below). Interlacing of the scan lines in this way allows us to see the entire screen displayed in one-half the time it would have taken to sweep across all the lines at once from top to bottom.