Up to six screens from one AMD Eyefinity graphics card
By Paul Ridden
September 28, 2009
Forget high definition, AMD claims its ATI Eyefinity multi-screen technology has up to 12 times 1080p resolution, breaking into almost true eye-definition video quality. It's able to power up to six monitors from one card, is Windows 7 ready and positively champing at the bit to unleash the power of Direct X 11. Users can look forward to a much improved immersion gaming experience, or to taking advantage of one huge desktop workspace for better multi-task management, or to being able to keep an eye on breaking Internet news while also playing a game or watching a DVD.
Providing you have powerful 8000 by 8000 screens set to a suitably low resolution, a theoretical resolution of 268 megapixels is also possible. Even at the more familiar 60Hz, you should still enjoy an impressive 98.4 megapixels where, according to AMD: "the display of a virtual environment is so detailed that it seems optically real to the human eye", rendering panoramic better-than-high-definition resolution roughly on a par with real human eye resolution in a 90 degree arc.
Recently showcasing the technology, AMD demonstrated digitally-created actors and scenes which were "almost indistinguishable from reality, rendered in real-time and shown as completely interactive."
But it's the enormous display real estate generated from a single card that's really grabbing the attention, and the imagination, of gamers and businesspeople alike. Eyefinity technology will see up to six independent ultra-high-resolution displays powered from just one graphics processing unit. As well as being able to handle screen displays in both landscape and portrait orientations simultaneously, the card can be configured to display one image across all the screens or offer multiple workflow opportunities with each screen displaying its own working environment, or various other mix and match combinations.
What this means to the user is an increased field of view for panoramic, immersed Direct X 11 powered gaming, or a multiple display business environment for enhanced productivity possibilities, or enabling a home user numerous media viewing scenarios configured from one card in one PC.
AMD offers a number of possible models where it sees this technology being of use. The first is a single user surrounded by numerous screens, having volumes of information available without resorting to scrolling. Graphic designers, stocks and shares traders, or analysts will no doubt immediately benefit from such a set up. Game-play which involves the use of peripheral vision or multiple screens is another area where Eyefinity technology might be of use to a single user.
The second scenario involves a number of people accessing information or media from one source. For instance, meetings, presentations or classrooms might benefit from a number of screens being controlled from one device.
The third will require more computing power, too, as multiple users view multiple screens in multiple sessions. If one PC were to accept multiple inputs as well as multiple outputs, then it could serve the needs of numerous users throughout a whole household or small office.
AMD is working with Samsung to further enhance the Eyefinity experience with the creation of ultra-thin bezel monitors that can be easily tiled together to produce a display wall, like those in the gallery.
The first of the ATI Radeon 5800 cards to incorporate Eyefinity technology have just been announced. The Radeon 5850 and 5870 are capable of expanding the display environment over three monitors, are the first to support Direct X 11, and are twice as fast as previous offerings (at 2.72 TeraFLOPS).
The forthcoming ATI Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity6 graphics card will see this capability increase to six monitors but, as of writing, there's no word on when that's going to arrive. Chris Hook of AMD simply said to "stay tuned" when asked for a more precise definition of forthcoming.