ATI’s six-screen Eyefinity reviewed


Along with its introduction of the HD 5830, ATI announced the HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 card yesterday, which predictably comes with six DisplayPort outputs and enables that hallowed six-screen gaming overload that the Eyefinity branding has been about since the beginning. Some lucky scribes over at PC Pro have been treated to a live demonstration of what gaming at 5,760 x 2,160 feels like, and their understated response was to describe it as “far more immersive.” No kidding. They did raise the spectral figure of those monitor bezels, however, pointing out that bezel correction — where the image “behind the bezel” is rendered but hidden making the overall display look like a window unto the game world — habitually obscured text and game HUD elements. In their view, the sweet spot remains a triple-screen setup, and we’re inclined to agree (particularly if they look like this). For those interested in getting their multi-monitor gaming up and running, we’ve linked an invaluable guide from HardOCP below, which breaks down how much you can expect from ATI’s current HD 5000 series of cards, and also provides a video guide to setting your rig up.


Eight displays with a single-slot PCIe – Matrox


Matrox M9188 supports up to eight DisplayPort or DVI Single-Link outputs and can be combined with a second M9188 to drive up to 16 displays, all from a single workstation

Matrox Graphics, the leading manufacturer of specialized graphics solutions, today announced the launch of the Matrox M9188 PCIe x16 Octal graphics card, capable of supporting eight DisplayPort or DVI Single-Link outputs from a single workstation. The Matrox M9188 PCIe x16 offers 2GB of memory, resolutions up to 2560×1600 per output, and advanced desktop management features—such as independent or stretched desktop modes—to drive energy, transportation, process control, financial trading, and other mission-critical environments with exceptional performance.

“The M9188 is designed specifically for professional monitoring environments that require visualization of large amounts of data at once to enhance mission-critical decision making,” says Ron Berty, Business Development Manager, Matrox Graphics. “The expansive multi-monitor configuration allows system operators to accurately manage energy grids or train dispatch applications, while ensuring maximum performance across all displays.”


The Matrox M9188 offers robust support for Microsoft Windows XP, as well as for Linux, which is critical for energy and transportation applications that commonly use display configurations of more than eight monitors.

Matrox also announced a second addition to the M-Series product line with the Matrox M9128 LP PCIe x16, DualHead DisplayPort graphics card. This dual-monitor add-in board is the economical choice to drive business, industrial, and government applications across two displays at resolutions up to 2560×1600


Matrox M9128 and M9188 Key Features

  • Native PCIe x16 performance
  • Single-slot graphics cards
  • 1 GB (M9128) and 2 GB (M9188) of memory
  • Drive two (M9128) or eight (M9188) DisplayPort monitors at 2560×1600 per display or DVI Single-Link monitors at 1920×1200 per display
  • Can be combined with other M-Series products (multi-card support)
  • Support for stretched or independent desktop modes across all monitors
  • Easy deployment and wide enterprise flexibility with unified driver package
  • Support for Microsoft Windows 7 (32/64bit), Windows Vista (32/64bit), Windows XP (32/64bit), Windows Server 2003/2008 (32/64 bit) and Linux


Matrox M9128 and M9188 Availability and Pricing
The Matrox M9128 and M9188 graphics cards will be available in Q4/2009.

  • Matrox M9128 LP PCIe x16
    Part number: M9128-E1024LAF
    $259.00 USD
  • Matrox M9188 PCIe x16  
    Part number: M9188-E2048F
    $1995.00 USD

Kanex Mini DisplayPort Adapter


Your Mac mini cranks out its video via DisplayPort and audio via a mini Toslink. Chances are your home entertainment system doesn’t like either of those. It will, however, like the Kanex Mini DisplayPort Adapter, which can turn a DisplayPort video signal into a 1080p signal over HDMI, and will even integrate either digital or analog audio into the mix. It’s USB powered, so there’s no need for a clunky power adapter, and while $70 isn’t particularly cheap for a chubby cable ($50 for the USB analog audio model), it’s about the cleanest way to get your Mini pumping tunes and vids through your system.


Dell 24-inch U2410 IPS monitor


Already seen in Japan, the 24-inch UltraSharp U2410 professional monitor is up for retail on Dell’s US store. The IPS-panel features a 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution, 6-ms response, 178-degree viewing angles, 1000:1 typical contrast, and 12-bit internal processing (1.07 billion colors), and 96% AdobeRGB and 100% of sRGB color space coverage. Connectivity options are vast with jacks for DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI, component, composite, and VGA. That’s a lot of rig for $599. Hit the link below if you just have to have it since you won’t find it promoted on the Dell US monitor pages just yet.


StarTech Debuts World’s First DisplayPort KVM Switch

While KVM switches are not exactly a hot subject (after all, they’ve been around for quite some time now, and, in spite of being some pretty useful products, they’re not particularly exciting), from time to time, we happen to come across a product of this type worthy of attention. And, to tell you the truth, this is the case with the latest product of this type launched by StarTech, which brings the DisplayPort technology to the world of KVM switches.
Aptly called the 2-Port USB DisplayPort KVM Switch, the device delivers multi-computer control for demanding high-resolution multimedia applications, or computer environments requiring true high definition capability. So, the gadget supports DisplayPort connections with a native resolution of 2560 x 1600 (@60 Hz, 30 bpp), as well as 7.1 HD digital audio (when connected to supporting displays and sources).
Furthermore, it can be easily installed pretty much wherever the user might want, as well as carried around quite easily, given the fact that it measures 126 mm x 65 mm x 40 mm, and weighs somewhere in the vicinity of 420 grams.
This versatile KVM switch features three Plug-and-Play USB console ports, including two dedicated peripheral (mouse and keyboard) ports and one USB 2.0 hub port – enabling users to share a USB mouse and keyboard, and one USB 2.0 peripheral between the two connected computers. Moreover, it sports both front-panel push-button and hotkey switching and offers a small form factor design with connection ports situated on the rear panel, allowing you to eliminate workspace disruptions.


HDMI vs. DisplayPort



So you just bought a new HDTV, gaming console, PC or flat-screen monitor and you noticed your new electronic device came with either an HDMI cable or DisplayPort cable connector. Now you ask yourself, “what exactly is HDMI and DisplayPort and which one is right for me?” HDMI was designed as an external connection for HDTVs to replace the aging component video and s-video connections and is used primarily with consumer electronics. On the other hand DisplayPort is the primary method for connecting flat-panel monitors to computer systems and is primarily used by IT professionals for PC’s, projectors and monitors.

DisplayPort was designed to be specifically used with flat-panel monitors and has a micro-packet architecture which uses less power that works more efficiently with network displays. HDMI on the other hand has a raster-scan architecture which was designed to first be used on CRT televisions. DisplayPort is also suppose to feature higher performance compared to HDMI with the ability to support 10.8 Gbps with a 6-foot cableand and can also support monitors with resolutions up to 2560×1600, HDMI cables at 6 feet are rated at 400 mbps. DisplayPort also features latching connectors which is vital for surveillance and other critical systems where keeping the cables connected at all times is an absolute must.

HDMI is no slouch when it comes to data transferring however, and it’s still the most popular way to connect your HD device to your flat-panel TV or monitor. For the average consumer who is looking for a high-quality way to connect their PC, videogame system or Blu-ray player to their monitors or TVs then HDMI cable is still the most popular and cost effective way to go. For those who want even greater performance or for those who work in the IT industry then DisplayPort cable is most likely already the norm.


Dell’s DisplayPort Folly

Dell is on a mission to prove it’s a technology leader by making sure that DisplayPort–the DVI replacement that it’s pushing hard for the industry to adopt–appears on your next notebook, PC, and monitor. There’s just one problem: We don’t need DisplayPort. It currently doesn’t offer any real cost or performance benefits over the well-established HDMI interface, which is appearing on a growing number of products. DisplayPort’s introduction is likely to cause confusion and frustration for buyers seeking a monitor that will work with their notebook or PC at home. Worse, Dell plans to eventually launch DisplayPort-only monitors that will lack backward compatibility with every single PC shipped to date. This is not technology leadership.

The DisplayPort Dilemma

In addition to writing GeekTech, I’m a research analyst for IDC covering monitors and projectors, so I’ve watched DisplayPort’s evolution closely. Dell, HP, Samsung, and other monitor industry big shots first started kicking around the idea that became DisplayPort in 2003–and back then it made sense. After all, the old analog VGA interface was dead (although to this day it refuses to lie down) and the DVI interface had become technologically moribund, unable to keep up with the promise of next-generation, ultrahigh-resolution monitors. DisplayPort would be the ultimate digital interface for PCs, and it would be an open standard with no associated royalties, unlike the then-new HDMI interface, which was starting to show up on televisions (companies that implement HDMI today pay 4 cents per device plus a $10,000-per-year fee).

If DisplayPort had launched then, we’d probably be merrily using it on our PCs today. Instead, the standard took years to mature (as they often do). In the meantime, high-definition TV sales took off, and so did the acceptance of HDMI: Today that interface is on just about every HDTV sold, and most people with any technical prowess know what it is and how it works. After several tumultuous revisions, HDMI reached version 1.3, which can support even today’s highest-resolution 30-inch monitors. As a result, HDMI now ships on many PCs and monitors from just about every major vendor, including Dell.

When HDMI became the de facto digital interface standard, development of DisplayPort should have ceased. Alas, the wheels were already in motion, and Dell–the standard’s most vocal proponent–and VESA (the Video Electronics Standards Association, brought in to administer the specification) pushed forward, continuing development and issuing specifications. Finally, in January this year Dell rolled out the first-ever DisplayPort-enabled monitor, its 30-inch UltraSharp 3008WFP. Interestingly, the $1999 LCD also includes an HDMI port.

Why put an HDMI port on the company’s first DisplayPort monitor? Because even Dell’s top DisplayPort evangelist, Bruce Montag, senior technical staffer in the office of Dell’s CTO and chairman of the DisplayPort task force at VESA, acknowledges that HDMI is too well established to omit. Though Dell plans to continue offering HDMI on its consumer gear, it thinks DisplayPort makes more sense for future business products.

I couldn’t agree less. Why on earth should my work monitor, notebook, or desktop have a different digital interface than my products at home do? Every day I take my work notebook home, where I often connect it to my consumer desktop monitor. Plus, small-business buyers mix and match consumer and corporate hardware all the time.

DisplayPort backers like to point out that future implementations of the interface could offer compatibility with HDMI, but such support is optional, not required in the specification. In addition, it would need an external dongle and chip sets that can interface with both standards, since the two technologies work in fundamentally different ways (unlike, say, HDMI and DVI). In the end, both the vendor–and the consumer–would end up paying more for the luxury of using HDMI through a DisplayPort connector. Wouldn’t it be easier, and less expensive, if everything used just HDMI?

Future Promises

Other arguments in favor of DisplayPort also fall apart upon closer examination. For example, backers suggest that because DisplayPort is royalty-free, the interface will be less expensive to implement. But in reality there’s no guarantee that contributors to the specification won’t ask for royalties later. Meanwhile, the up-front hardware costs of supporting the new standard are undoubtedly higher than that of HDMI–even considering HDMI’s 4-cent royalty fees–since HDMI’s parts are already produced in high volume and enjoy economies of scale. And for every monitor that a vendor such as Dell creates with both DisplayPort and HDMI, the company must pay the hardware cost of implementing both standards, plus the HDMI fees it originally sought to avoid.

Engineers agree that DisplayPort’s micropacket architecture is pretty slick. It can drive multiple monitors using a daisy-chain configuration, and it could enable future setups such as integrated USB hubs and Webcams that run through a single DisplayPort cable. However, a USB-based technology called DisplayLink already offers multiple-monitor support. And the USB and Webcam features aren’t included in the current DisplayPort specification, which means owners of first-generation products won’t have access to them even if they become available later. Anybody can promise future features.

Finally, Dell says DisplayPort will let the company build what it calls direct-drive monitors, models that contain fewer internal electronics, which could mean potentially lower prices and allow thinner designs. That sounds great, too, until you realize that such a “dumb” monitor could work only with DisplayPort-enabled PCs or notebooks and not with the millions of laptops and desktops that exist today.

DisplayPort was a good idea that missed its window of opportunity. By forcing the issue, Dell and other DisplayPort backers are only going to bewilder consumers. If you’re in the market for a new laptop, desktop, or monitor in the coming months, be sure to take a close look at the connectors on the back. How irritated would you be to find that the best connection on your new high-end monitor won’t work with the best connection on your high-end notebook?