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One Video Card, 12 Monitors

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday June 07, 2010 @12:25PM (#32485118) Journal
    I know that motherboards only support two but I seem to recall a story of someone who might be interested in that [slashdot.org].

    Also, in the article, they call this behemoth "Powercolor innovation." I'd rather we called it "Powercolor scaling" unless they actually tackled the problem in some way other than slapping to cards together into one.
    • Twelve video cards with twelve ports? That's just gross.

  • Multi-seat Computing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by timeOday (582209) on Monday June 07, 2010 @12:27PM (#32485136)
    I think a 4 or 6 core CPU could support 12 users in many cases. I could see building a computer lab at a school this way to minimize administrative burden. But it's too bad multi-seat linux doesn't work better. I have struggled with it on and off over the years, and it just doesn't seem to have critical mass of interest to gain real distro support.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)

      Thing is I don't think you'd have any real gain over a thin client/server kind of model, and there's no possibility for scaling or redundancy with something like this.

      So it is going to cost you a good bit to get a system with this. You have to have a reasonably powerful computer, of course, which you'd need with a server as well but then there's the card, which is not cheap. A regular 5970 is $600-800 depending on configuration, this one will easily break a grand I'm sure.

      Because of that you'd save little,

      • by vlm (69642) on Monday June 07, 2010 @01:29PM (#32486082)

        Because of that you'd save little, if any, money over cheap systems acting as thin clients

        Good detailed technical analysis, but I can get an equally valid argument by working a different angle.

        Unless you're doing something real weird/wrong, the cheapest part of a computer lab is the hard drive, video card, chassis, etc. Zero that out, and you've got something very unusual, rare, and complicated, yet remains at 99% of the total cost, that being mostly salary and indirect costs (health insurance, pension, etc) and stuff like HVAC, electric bill, fractional capital expense of the building, cost of electrical and LAN wiring and related hardware... If you want to save a whopping 1% of the total cost of ownership, the very superficial answer is just install 99 computers instead of 100.

        If your 24 room school costs $12M to build, which seems believable, then your empty room cost $500K. You can pull your hair out to "save" $2500 worth of hard drives and $1250 worth of chassis/power supplies, but that's a false economy. And you'll never be able to piecewise upgrade.

        • by timeOday (582209)

          If your 24 room school costs $12M to build, which seems believable, then your empty room cost $500K. You can pull your hair out to "save" $2500 worth of hard drives and $1250 worth of chassis/power supplies, but that's a false economy. And you'll never be able to piecewise upgrade.

          I agree the multi-seat would probably only help IF it economized those things - real estate square footage and administrative cost. Unfortunately my own experience with multi-seat tells me that as things stand, it's easier just

    • by Locutus (9039)
      multi-seat is like virtual machines in that 90% of the population know only Windows or Mac and they just don't understand this stuff. I even showed a multi-seat laptop to an IT guy to show how they could reduce the number of computers used in their kiosk filled showroom but he still didn't get it. I had proposed running the multi-seat Linux to reduce the number of PCs and then where they needed to run Windows, the multi-seat system could run either one or two virtual machine instances of Windows.

      So, if you
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by hairyfeet (841228)

        The problem with Linux saving money in schools is this: The guys that really REALLY know Linux, the real gurus that could wrap their head around what you are suggesting and set up and maintain a good working solution, would end up costing your more $$$$$ than the solution would be worth. Because I have known a few gurus in my day, and they get paid the big bucks. The chump change and belly button lint that the average public schools offer IT wouldn't even get those guys to show up for an interview.

        Like it o

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SnarfQuest (469614)

      Back in the day, we had 30+ users on a PDP-11/70, with good response. Now you have a machine 3000X faster, and have problems supporting a single user. Aren't advances in technology amazing?

    • by kenh (9056) on Monday June 07, 2010 @04:55PM (#32489076) Homepage Journal

      THat is an amazingly odd way to try and squeeze more simultaneous users out of one box. FIrst you take a four or six core CPU, add an ungodly-expensive video card, and then (I assume) a couple dozen USB ports for keyboards/mice THEN you get to write the glue software to make it all work together.

      Exactly how would this be more useful than a dozen Atom-based systems at $200/each (plus monitors/keyboards/mice, common requirement for either your solution or mine)? Assuming the appropriate software exists (and I don't think it does), if the main unit goes down, all 12 users are SOL, but with my RAIPC (Redundant Array of Inexpensive PCs) you can keep working until all 12 systems go down!

  • Only one problem (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Monday June 07, 2010 @12:27PM (#32485150) Homepage

    Once you go past a three screen Eyefinity setup, Bezels become a real serious problem. With three displays it's no big deal, since the center monitor serves as your primary view while the other two monitors expand your peripheral vision...but with 6 monitors, you will have bezels crossing the center of your point of view, making things real wonky.

    Yes, it's awesome having the size, but until someone releases a bezel-less six monitor system, it's kind of a waste of time. Besides, with how much a six monitor setup would cost, you may as well buy a good quality projector.

    • Unless you do a 4x3 setup.

      Or you can get 6 users each with 2 monitors.

    • You just need to set them up all around you and play with the 360 view mod in Unreal Tournament.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Or...six good quality projectors. No more bezel issue, and six times the resolution!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Good God I'd hate to be the one who has to set THAT up.

        We can barely get our projectors to stay level, let alone line it up other screens.

        • Apparently, the really classy setups(in addition to just having decently rigid mounting hardware) will allow the images to overlap slightly, and then, using feedback provided by one or more cameras, tweak the brightness and color balance of each output until the whole image looks good.
          • by vlm (69642)

            And every 500 hours (aka 20.8 days at 24x7) all the projectors will time out and refuse to display anything but "time to change the bulb!" and of course, taking a page from the inkjet manufacturers, the bulb unit will be roughly 1/4 to 1/2 the cost of the projector. And of course you didn't budget for monthly bulb replacements. Even better if "only one guy" can fix the projectors but don't worry he's on call, all the freaking time he's on call, oh is he ever.

            Something similar to this has happened at all t

            • Re:Only one problem (Score:4, Informative)

              by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Monday June 07, 2010 @02:53PM (#32487230) Homepage Journal

              "And every 500 hours (aka 20.8 days at 24x7) all the projectors will time out and refuse to display anything but "time to change the bulb!""

              Bypass the UHP ballast and toss a 100w LED in there. No more bulb display notice, at least 15,000 hours lamp life.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by vlm (69642)

                One of the projector models at one of the NOCs had a plan to prevent that:

                1) Integrated optics. The first lens was mounted in the lamp "module" and the module was sealed. you'd have to find a way to bust open the module without cracking the lens or screwing up its alignment.

                2) ID chip, much like an ink jet cartridge. "Hmmmm. lamp serial number 98243804728531 has been operated for 1000 hours or whatever". Yes, on the control menu, where you'd do things like brightness/contrast, there was an option to dis

        • by TheLink (130905)

          That seems easy compared to this:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8-kqovVjss [youtube.com]

          Or the other related stuff...

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      The rule is you need an odd number of monitors in each direction, so 3x3 should also be fine. Agreed, anything past 3 monitors per person is just fucking ridiculous.
      • by cruachan (113813)

        4 works well actually. I have 3 in the classic 'one in the middle and one each side' layout, then a fourth further around on my right which has all those programs one wants open but doesn't really work on all the time - Skype, IM client (pidgin) iTunes and Spotify in my case.

        The three centrals are 24" and the fourth 22" - I figure monitors are cheap and if you go for duel PCI Express slots on your motherboard you've got the plug for the fourth monitor so why no use it?

    • by mrops (927562)

      ...you may as well buy a good quality projector.

      or get 6 relatively low quality (as in not too bright) high resolution projectors and solve the bezel problem by carefully aligning the 6 projectors.

      Project small and bright, get a crispy, high resolution display.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by alta (1263)

      sounds like you're just thinking about gaming. Sure, that would suck for gaming, but I'm running a very productive 4 monitor set up now. In order from left to right, 22"@1920*1080, 22"@1920*1080, 26"@1920*1200, 22"@1600*1200.

      The 26" HDTV sits directly in front because it's got the most to look at. Code goes here. To the right, toolbars, pallets, menus, etc. To the left go the results of what I'm programming (PHP/PERL/HTML/CSS) to the left of that lies the mail, instant messengers and other distractions

    • They're making progress. Sharp is coming out with a 60" LCD with bezel widths of 2.4 mm and 4.1 mm [techreport.com] (with video). Still room for improvement.

      And oh, I'll take three :-\

  • by ATestR (1060586) on Monday June 07, 2010 @12:33PM (#32485240) Homepage

    This is a cool card, but how many of us would ever buy one? Even if the cost of this unit is equivalent to another high end video card, putting a dozen or so on my desk is more cash that I budget in a year for toys.

    Admittedly, I find the idea of having many monitors attractive. I use a dual monitor setup at work, and I find it restrictive to go back to one monitor on my home laptop. What I'd like to have is a 2(h) x 3(w) array of monitors... someday.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I'd like to have a full 1080p with 4:3 aspect ratio, with each pixel having its own dedicated 32" LCD monitor. They'd be all on the ground and I'd have to use it from my glass helicopter up above, but I'd essentially have the biggest screen there is, at approximately 34560 inches. ... Someday...

    • I have dual 24" monitors on my desk. Add in the laptop, a lamp, and the pictures of my cat and I could maybe fit one more monitor without having to buy another desk. 3 more desks would run me around $10000. $1000 for the desks, and $9000 for the addition that I would have to build onto my house to support my desk fantasy.
      • by vlm (69642)

        Add in the laptop, a lamp, and the pictures of my cat and I could maybe fit one more monitor without having to buy another desk.

        The picture of the cat goes on as a background image. 12 monitors emit enough light that you don't need a lamp, in fact, you'll probably need suntan oil.

        How high's your ceiling? Sounds like you can go three across, so thats only four monitors tall. Given the current fad of that stupid extra wide HDTV form factor, four monitors probably stacks up to about four feet tall. Put the picture of the cat, a weather radar, and a pic of your significant other on the top row, and its all very manageable. With som

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          Given the current fad of that stupid extra wide HDTV form factor

          Actually, I used to dislike widescreen monitors. Now I actually kind of like it, as long it's a "square pixel" monitor -- meaning a circle is still a circle, and text isn't squished.

          I'm sitting in front of a 22" monitor running at a native 1920x1080 -- it's pretty sweet, and you can put multiple windows side-by-side (since a window at full-width is usually useless for most things). It takes a fraction of the desk space as my old 19" multi-syn

        • I love this discussion already. What I meant by $10000 is $1000 for the desks and $9000 for the addition I thought I would have to build onto my home office to fit the 3 new desks. However, you've solved that whole space problem, except that I might need to buy a hydraulic chair system so that I can see the monitors on the top row. I like it.
      • by karnal (22275)

        You could dedicate one monitor to pictures of your cat. Blam. Problem solved for one monitor.

        Also, I forsee a stacked-pipes arrangement - similar to some drum sets - to where you have the monitors stacked above the current ones with mounting brackets. I would love to do this at work with my 2 sets of 2 monitors (2 monitors on laptop, 2 on the desktop) because my current setup of 4 wide means the one on the far right side doesn't get used at all.....

  • Matrox? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by strayant (789108) on Monday June 07, 2010 @12:33PM (#32485248)
    Hasn't Matrox been producing multi-output cards for years? How is this any different? http://www.matrox.com/graphics/en/products/ [matrox.com]
    • by ZERO1ZERO (948669)
      Yeah. Matrox alway get forgotten when it come to these things. What this does offer, is some 'power' with your multiple screens, matrox lost the 'framerate/3d tech' battle a long time ago to the likes of nvidia, ati, and probably even 3dfx. They then seemed to specialise in video editing, multi monitor and all that sort of thing, ideal for traders etc.

      This card looks to be aimed squarely at gameers looking for an eyefinity setup, and/or internet e-epeen enlargement.

    • Re:Matrox? (Score:4, Informative)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday June 07, 2010 @01:08PM (#32485746) Journal
      In terms of number of outputs, Matrox has indeed been doing it for years. The difference is that their gear tends to be fairly expensive(particularly when you consider its brutally tepid performance) niche stuff. According to their price sheet [matrox.com], their 8-head will run you $2K. Their cheapest quad-head is $330. And these are for display controllers that are basically suited for 2D applications.

      By contrast, the ATI stuff, with vastly superior GPU peformance, and typically more RAM, is cheaper. 5-heads will run you $220 [newegg.com]. 6 will run about $500; because you can't seem to get 6 without a 5870, which isn't a cheap chip.

      This 12-head monster, since it is probably a relatively short-run enthusiast catcher, may well land in the ~$1000-~$1500 zone; but that will still make it cheaper, faster, and with more heads and RAM than the Matrox equivalent.
      • by dwater (72834)

        well, sgi's old dg5-8 could do 8 monitors, but you could have 16 per machine.

        price...er...yeah...ok...

    • by dave420 (699308)
      These don't cost thousands, the outputs are all digital, and these can play games.
  • The title is correct while the summary is false.

  • by thijsh (910751) on Monday June 07, 2010 @12:39PM (#32485320) Journal
    a Beowulf cluster of those?

    But seriously wouldn't it be possible to hack a displayport as high-speed interconnect and use this for computation?
    • Not usefully. Since Displayport is designed as a video interconnect, it is largely uni-directional(not entirely, but the bi-directional aux channel is 1Mb/s in 1.1 and 720Mb/s in 1.2, while the uni-directional graphics channels are up to 8.64 Gb/s or 17.28Gb/s respectively).

      Displayport framegrabbers, which would allow a PC to receive the displayport signal(so you could implement a full duplex interconnect by having 1 video card and 1 grabber in each PC, and running two cables), do exist; but they are ver
  • Slashdotted (Score:3, Funny)

    by RobinEggs (1453925) on Monday June 07, 2010 @12:42PM (#32485366)
    Apparently it's so overwhelming in its power and beauty my current graphics card can't bear to render it! It just gets halfway through, and then after the third set of HDMI ports comes into view it chokes up and halts, too depressed and intimidated to go further.

    Seriously, though, either my connection sucks or the pictures are all slashdotted.
  • Finally, a tool that will allow me to watch all my porn subscriptions simultaneously...
  • Great Idea (Score:3, Funny)

    by Reason58 (775044) on Monday June 07, 2010 @12:48PM (#32485444)
    I just had a great idea, you guys. "Virtual Monitors".

    Ok, ok, hear me out.

    Through software your computer will generate virtual monitors which can be used to contain an application in a little box on your screen. You can then have several applications open at the same time on the same screen simply by arranging those boxes so that you can see them all. This is especially easy since monitors are larger than ever now.

    I am going to be seriously rich. Maybe I will buy some new windows.
  • thanks but no thanks!
  • by vlm (69642) on Monday June 07, 2010 @01:06PM (#32485720)

    Would this card drive one dozen monitors set up as digital picture frames?

    I have a linux based file server in the basement that does not really do anything with its video output.

    If I could hook up 12 picture frame monitors in various rooms of my house, that would be fun.

    I don't want the extreme headache of manually updating 12 SDHC or CF cards. I don't want 12 individual stupid yearly subscriptions to some internet ripoff company that'll probably go out of business and make my investment obsolete the week after I buy them.

    I just want to drop .jpgs into certain folders on my pre-existing file server and have the pictures randomly displayed thru the house, shuffling perhaps every 10 minutes. Also I'll have certain webcams periodically downloaded and added to the mix. And a cron job to display certain pictures at certain times, etc. A couple lines of perl, bash, and wget, thats what I'm talking about.

    • by Zerth (26112) on Monday June 07, 2010 @01:32PM (#32486122)

      How about 12 USB mini-monitors, with USB->network adapters.

      A fair bit cheaper, unless you want 15"+ frames.

      • by vlm (69642)

        Didn't even know those existed, googled, was surprised.

        Being a cheap bastard I'd have problems paying twice as much for a 7 inch monitor as I currently pay for a 20 inch monitor.

        And all the ads mention windoze/mac compatibility, the exact two OS choices that I would never use on my fileserver.

    • In principle? Sure. In practice, it would be unlikely to be economic. Your basic copper displayport connection is only specced for a 15 meter run, less if you need full bandwidth. Fiber is supported, for longer runs; but the price sheet for that is, as they say, Not In Kansas Anymore... Combine this with the fact that displayport monitors tend to command a modest premium over your basic VGA/DVI jobbies, and you end up in a situation where you would actually save money by buying 12 all-in-one PCs(or, if you
      • by vlm (69642)

        Your basic copper displayport connection is only specced for a 15 meter run

        I've had enough experience to know that historically most specs for non-cutting edge products are pretty bogus. I have run RS-232 for hundreds of feet at high speeds, done some things with Ethernet CAT-5 cable and wire nuts that I'm not entirely proud of, it works because the specs are designed so no matter how carelessly the cables are laid (wrapped around fluorescent fixtures, run thru the arc welding workshop, etc) the thing will work 99.99999% of the time to minimize product support calls. But I'm wil

  • reminds me of the onion [theonion.com]
  • I have a few beefs (beeves?) about this product:

    1. Displayport is a pain in the ass, with its use of active vs passive adapters, both of which are still hard to find and confusing to the average consumer. Few displays ship with Displayport, and of those few, hardly any ship with a suitable cable, instead relying on HDMI or DVI. The cable isn't cheap.

    2. Why did they spread to a 3rd slot ? Couldn't they have placed all 12 connectors in a single row, rotated 90 degrees ? Or at least split them off to a bre

  • 2 girls one cup? 1 girl, 12 cups? 12 monitors, 2 girls, a USB hub and a can of whipped cream?

    I need to stop smoking so much pot.

  • xplane on 24 monitors on ubuntu out of one box, but I think this was using 4 of the 6 output eyefinity cards:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6Vf8R_gOec [youtube.com]

    Assuming that the 6 output cards use 2 card slot spaces each, then you'd have 8 used. It looks like this HD5970 uses 3 slots so you could still only get two of these cards into that same system. If you could get one more rear slot to be available you might be able to fit 3 of these cards into one machine and you'd get a 36 monitor output (each monitor at 1920

  • That's the second biggest video card I've ever seen.

    (and no, I'm not kidding [inebraska.com])

    --
    Toro

  • by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Monday June 07, 2010 @06:33PM (#32490120) Homepage

    To hell with the stupid looking card, where the hell are the pix of the "pretty lady Tia" mentioned in the article? I call shenanigans...

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