colour depth ⇝

bits per pixel

<hardware, graphics> (bpp) The number of bits of information stored per pixel of an image or displayed by a graphics adapter. The more bits there are, the more colours can be represented, but the more memory is required to store or display the image.

A colour can be described by the intensities of red, green and blue (RGB) components. Allowing 8 bits (1 byte) per component (24 bits per pixel) gives 256 levels for each component and over 16 million different colours - more than the human eye can distinguish. Microsoft Windows [and others?] calls this truecolour. An image of 1024x768 with 24 bpp requires over 2 MB of memory.

"High colour" uses 16 bpp (or 15 bpp), 5 bits for blue, 5 bits for red and 6 bits for green. This reduced colour precision gives a slight loss of image quality at a 1/3 saving on memory.

Standard VGA uses a palette of 16 colours (4 bpp), each colour in the palette is 24 bit. Standard SVGA uses a palette of 256 colours (8 bpp).

Some graphics hardware and software support 32-bit colour depths, including an 8-bit "alpha channel" for transparency effects.

Last updated: 1999-08-01

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Nearby terms:

bit rot « bit slice « bits per inch « bits per pixel » bits per second » bit string » bit stuffing

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