And you thought a monitor was just a piece of hardware you plug into a VGA, DVI, or HDMI port on your computer…
“The rates of performance improvements for GPUs have exceeded Moore’s law by a wide margin. Experts say GPUs have been improving at a “Moore’s Law Cubed” rate, which roughly translates to a doubling of graphics processing power every year. To date, this massive graphics processing power has predominantly been used for video games, multimedia-rich suites, like video editing, special effects applications, and for high-end technical applications like computer-aided design. As a result, even though virtually every modern PC includes one, the power of the GPU is rarely used in day-to-day activities, resulting in GPUs not being a top priority in the PC design process.
Windows Vista harnesses the power of the GPU for more than just gaming. For starters, Windows Vista relies on the GPU to give all customers a better overall day-to-day desktop experience. The Windows video playback infrastructure relies on WDDM to deliver high-definition (HD) video playback and to take video playback to a level on par with the latest consumer electronics devices. In addition, there are a number of other key applications that now utilize the GPU, such as the new Windows Photo Gallery. This wider utilization of the GPU, concurrently by the operating system and multiple applications, is enabled by WDDM.”
From an MSDN article on the Vista Display Driver Model