graphics cards: bus speed vs bus width

I am an architect and I am trying to choose an appropriate graphics card for my new system. Specifications are sometimes confusing. Can you explain what the difference is between the bus speed and the bus width of a graphics card?

Thanks a lot,

Froggyinthefog
froggyinthefogAsked:
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jhanceConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Think in terms of a multi-lane highway:

1) Bus speed is analogous to the SPEED LIMIT on the highway.
2) Bus width is analogous to the NUMBER OF LANES

So the BANDWIDTH of the road, in CARS/HOUR, is related to BOTH the SPEED and the LANES.

In the case of a computer bus, the bus speed is how many transfers per second the bus is capable of making.  The bus width is how many BITS can be made with each transfer.  So the total BANDWIDTH of the bus, which is what affects your performance, is related to BOTH the WIDTH and the RATE.
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philby11Commented:
Check with your CAD program manufacturer's website for a list of compatible cards
Vectorworks
http://www.nemetschek.net/support/gfxcards.html
autocad
http://www.autodesk.com
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durindilCommented:
Also remember that you want ao 2D card and not a 3D gaming card, even if you are rendering in 3D.  That is because the 3D gaming cards are built to be compatible with game graphics processing, which are not nearly as cpu/gpu intensive as CAD applications.
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CallandorCommented:
For CAD applications, OpenGL-compliant cards are desirable.  ATI's FireGL (X2-256, X3) are supposed to be good performers, and the NVidia Quadro FX series, too.
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