As we exclusively disclosed several moons ago, ATI’s DirectX 11 family of products carries the codename Evergreen. Besides being designed for OpenCL and DirectX 11, Evergreen series carries one significant technology that I believe will change the way how we play games.
USS Hornet, the place where AMD will launch its Evergreen family… in 25Mpixel res
The name of the technology is Eyefinity, most notably Eyefinity6. As you can figure yourself, AMD’s next-generation graphics family comes with up to six independent display pipelines, offering you a capability to connect anywhere from one to six displays, and experience 3D like you haven’t seen it before. According to the statement we got, "AMD’s next-generation graphics family launches later this month with every card in the family supporting at least three displays." We would also add that we saw mainstream boards with four display connectors? and now you can be sure that these four displays will actually output four independent images.
We visited AMD’s HQ in Sunnyvale prior to the event that is taking place on USS Hornet, and discussed the development of this technology with several key executives. AMD’s GPG engineering team decided to take a good use of modern display connectivity technologies such as DisplayPort and HDMI and created a line of chips with multiple display pipelines, enabling insane resolutions such as the afore mentioned 7680×3200 pixels. From one side, embedding multiple display pipelines was an "easy task" compared to effort it took to create software side of things. We saw a completely new driver panel which enabled us to change the position of displays in quite an easy way, but more importantly, the Eyefinity driver inserts these new resolutions inside the games [for titles that don't come with hard-coded resolutions]. AMD is promising support for numerous DirectX 9, 10, 10.1 and 11 games. To be clearer, the Eyefinity driver sends a list of supported resolutions by the graphics adapter, neatly adding the new wide resolutions.
If you’re a graphics oldtimer like myself, you’ll probably like the bit about where this technology comes from: a while ago, Matrox demonstrated Triple-Head Gaming and called it Surround Gaming. The team behind the Surround Gaming utility left Matrox and joined ATI, and started pitching the idea. Unfortunately, the display connectivity technology was just too complicated for high-volume parts, so the idea was on the backburner until "future technologies kick-off". Those future technologies were none other than DisplayPort and HDMI. Back in 2007, when ATI shaped the envelope around R800 hardware, the time was right to start developing "Real Surround Gaming", now called Eyefinity.
Carrell Killebrew shows that his head is smaller than most people think…
The end result is impressive; as you can see on the pictures in this article, combining DisplayPort with multiple display pipelines inside the Evergreen chips and an Eyefinity driver – six 30" displays give you a 7680×3200 pixel resolution. The list of Eyefinity-compliant games is quite impressive, and includes games released as far as seven years ago. If an OpenGL engine supports manual resolution input, such as Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, Quake or Doom 3 – you can manually set the resolution and play without any patches. We checked several titles, such as World of Warcraft as DirectX 9 game, Left 4 Dead, one unnamed title and DiRT 2 as a DirectX 11 game.
What made our experience great was the fact that all of the games we tested ran perfectly at 60 frames per second [Vsync enabled] while running on a single product from the upcoming Evergreen family. This is a testament of 3D performance that was created by wizards at AMD, no question about it.
DirectX 11 goodness in 25 Megapixels…at 60 frames per second.
What probably will surprise AMD guys the most is the fact that potential buyers of this technology are most likely – World of Warcraft gamers. This resolution brings you a sizeable advantage, as you can see much more than on smaller screens. In fact, this was for the first time we saw virtual heads being much bigger than real-sized humans, such as the writer of these words or Carrell Killebrew, Director of Product planning, AMD GPG.
Changing resolutions in all tested games was a breeze; you just go to video options inside the game and change to the resolution appropriate to your display configuration. Now, six 30" displays is quite an expensive experience [$8394 for six Dell 3008WFP], but for instance – buying three 22" displays will set you back for as low as $450 and that is nothing to be sneezed at. The good news doesn’t stop there, actually.
Setting up a screen resolution is easy even in five year old games
Unlike some other $600 non-FHD experiences, you can use three, four or even six displays on everyday basis. As you can see in picture above, Google Earth is nothing else but impressive.
25 megapixel real estate is also something that every user of RED One camera or a professional photographer will appreciate. Here at BSN*, we love our RED One camera, but the matter of fact is that no display at some affordable price can display 1:1 pixel ratio. But with a 25 MPixel screen, our 12.8 MPixel CMOS sensor seems "tiny"? in conclusion – there are many usages to Eyefinity technology.
While gaming will be at rage for the launch of consumer cards in Evergreen family, commercial cards look to kick some serious butt. Evergreen’s multi-display capabilities are unseen of, and according to Carrell Killebrew and Eric Demers [CTO, AMD GPG] – this is just the beginning.