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Bus mastering is an enhancement that allows the video card to take over the system bus (if it supports bus mastering) so that the video card can perform transfers to and from system memory directly. This improves performance on certain video operations, particularly 3D acceleration functions that use the system memory. Most video operations work on the video card's own memory and therefore don't benefit from bus mastering.
Bus mastering on modern PCs is currently supported only on the PCI bus. Bus mastering is explained in detail here.
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