|Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 5850 Video Card 21162-00-50R|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Thursday, 15 October 2009|
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ATI Eyefinity Multi-Monitors
ATI Eyefinity advanced multiple-display technology launches a new era of panoramic computing, helping to boost productivity and multitasking with innovative graphics display capabilities supporting massive desktop workspaces, creating ultra-immersive computing environments with super-high resolution gaming and entertainment, and enabling easy configuration and supporting up to six independent display outputs simultaneously.
In the past, multi-display systems catered to professionals in specific industries. Financial, gas and oil, and medical are just some industries where multi-display systems are not only desirable, but a necessity. Today, even graphic designers, CAD engineers and programmers are attaching more than one displays to their workstation. A major benefit of a multi-display system is simple and universal - it enables increased productivity. This has been demonstrated in industry studies which have shown that attaching more than one display device to a PC can significantly increase user productivity.
The early multi-display solutions were non-ideal. The bulky CRT monitors claimed too much desk space, thinner LCD monitors were very expensive, and external multi-display hardware was inconvenient and also very expensive. These issues are much less of a concern today. LCD monitors are very affordable and current generation GPUs can drive multiple display devices independently and simultaneously, without the need for external hardware. Despite the advancements in multi-display technology, AMD engineers still felt there was room for improvement, especially regarding the display interfaces. VGA carries analog signals and needs a dedicated DAC per display output, which consumes power and ASIC space. Dual-Link DVI is digital, but requires a dedicated clock source per display output and uses too many IO pins from our GPU. If we were to overcome the dual display per GPU barrier, it was clear that we needed a superior display interface.
In 2004, a group of PC companies collaborated to define and develop DisplayPort, a powerful and robust digital display interface. At that time, engineers working for the former ATI Technologies Inc. were already thinking about a more elegant solution to drive more than two display devices per GPU, and it was clear that DisplayPort was the interface of choice for this task.
In contrast to other digital display interfaces, DisplayPort does not require a dedicated clock signal for each display output. In fact the data link is fixed at 1.62Gbps or 2.7Gbps per lane, irrespective of the timing of the attached display device. The benefit of this design is that one reference clock source can provide the clock signals needed to drive as many DisplayPort display devices as there are display pipelines in the GPU. In addition, with the same number of IO pins used for Single-Link DVI, a full speed DisplayPort link can be driven which provides more bandwidth and translates to higher resolutions, refresh rates and color depths. All these benefits perfectly complement ATI Eyefinity Multi-Display Technology.
ATI Eyefinity Technology from AMD provides advanced multiple monitor technology delivering an incredibly immersive graphics and computing experience with innovative display capabilities, supporting massive desktop workspaces and super-high resolution gaming environments. Legacy GPUs have supported up to two display outputs simultaneously and independently for more than a decade. Until now graphics solutions have supported more than two monitors by combining multiple GPUs on a single graphics card. With the introduction of AMD's next-generation graphics product series supporting DirectX 11, a single GPU now has the advanced capability of simultaneously supporting up to six independent display outputs.
ATI Eyefinity Technology is closely aligned with AMD's DisplayPort implementation providing the flexibility and upgradability modern user's demand. Up to two DVI, HDMI, or VGA display outputs can be combined with DisplayPort outputs for a total of up to six monitors, depending on the graphics card configuration. The initial AMD graphics products with ATI Eyefinity technology will support a maximum of three independent display outputs via a combination of two DVI, HDMI or VGA with one DisplayPort monitor. AMD has a future product planned to support up to six DisplayPort outputs. Wider display connectivity is possible by using display output adapters that support active translation from DisplayPort to DVI or VGA.
The DisplayPort 1.2 specification is currently being developed by the same group of companies who designed the original DisplayPort specification. This new spec will include exciting new features for our customers. Its feature set includes higher bandwidth, enhanced audio and multi-stream support. Multi-stream, commonly referred to as daisy-chaining, is the ability to address and drive multiple display devices through one connector. This technology, coupled with ATI Eyefinity Technology, will re-introduce multi-display technology and AMD will be at the forefront of this transition.