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FirePro v4900 w/ 2 Monitors and HDTV w/ HDMI audio

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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November 26, 2011 5:29:32 AM

Closed my business and just spent about 3 days and nights of my life trying to find out how I can get my brand new AMD FirePro v4900 up and running in a configuration I desire.
After several years with a ATI FireGL v3400 and dual monitors with different sizes/resolutions I thought the upgrade to a new card with more memory/speed would solve some of my issues I have with my workstation. When it comes to number of open windows it seems I am a 'horder'. E.g. with over 50 Firefox windows and over 250 tabs VRAM was often gone after a few hours of using the workstation. It also seems that flash videos like youtube are eating VRAM and not freeing it. And I tend to reboot not very often if possible.
So far I was using Windows XP x64 as my host for several VMware guest OS on this workstation.

Before I purchased the card I read all announcements etc and I saw a promotional AMD youtube clip showing a setup with 3 monitors, which looked like they have different resolutions (a center one in landscape and one to each side vertical ... maybe they actually have the same resolutions, just didn't see it).

Well, so far so good. Got the v4900 card and a StarTech DVI2HDMI adapter for my HDTV and lots of hope that I could use my workstation as my HTPC as well.

My setup:
MB: Dell Precision 390, Q6600, 8 GB, PERC 5/i, 2TB RAID 1, USB 3.0
Graphics: FirePro v4900 with 1 DVI and 2 DisplayPort connectors
Monitors:
- Dell 2407WFT (DVI 1920x1200)
- Dell 1801FP (DVI connected via DP2DVI adapter, 1280x1024)
- 1080p HDTV (Samsung 0390 with StarTech DP2HDMI adapter and 25' HDMI cable, 1920x1080)

Installed the card under XP x64 and AMDs latest Catalyst Pro Control Center. Got both Dell monitors up and running in 'Extended' Desktop type mode just like I had it before. Then I connected the HDTV via the StarTech adapter and realized that for some reason I can only get 2 monitors online at the time. Then I found a note in the box: "Note: Under Windows XP, Eyefinity technology supports a maximum of 2 displays of any type.".

In order to get the HDTV on I have to sacrify one of my extended desktop monitors. Mmm ... why do I have a card with 3 connectors and I can only have two monitors at the time on?

Anyhow, let me get rid of Windows XP after converting XP from physical to virtual machine ....
I also never got the AMD HDMI audio driver working except in the Device Manager. But nowhere as a selectable audio device.

Then I installed Ubuntu 11.10 server with Xubuntu desktop and xfce as somebody suggested, which is about my ideal target host. Clicked some buttons and installed the suggested proprietary AMD fglrx package. After a reboot I got a AMD warning 'Unsupported hardware' always present on the display. Well, I then tried the AMD supplied Linux driver software, but I never got that up and running as there was always something missing. Only the Ubuntu included fglrx package worked. Guess I just have to wait until the v4900 is included in that package.
I quickly found the limits of the AMD fglrx package as it does not support dual monitors with Extended Desktop and different resolutions. Both monitors have to have the same resolution with fglrx. I then scraped the fglrx driver and went back to the standard Linux ati package xf86-video-ati. Now I had the trouble of setting up the two Dell monitors as extended desktop. Found that xrandr is the right choice for monitors with different resolution and fortunately found the arandr GUI for it.
Have to admit that the setup was quite messy with missing packages, libraries etc compared to the Windows setup. Removing AMD's fglrx package was not restoring my desktop again and I had to find libraries and restore links manually. But that is an AMD issue and not Linux.

Anyhow, again I was never able to have a video signal on all 3 displays.

And beside all this there was always the issue with the missing HDMI audio. Never heard a beep from any of the HDTV speakers when trying to use the HDMI cable for video and audio. Well, many people suggested that this is an issue with an non-AMD DP to HDMI adapter. I guess that is true. Checked the StarTech DP2HDMI specs and reviews and thought it would work (need DP++ to function correctly ...). Well, it is a passive adapter with a level shifter. I can get the EDID from the HDTV nicely using moninfo. The AMD eyefinity dongles site only recommends 4 different passive adapters. Guess I have to get the Accell B086B-001B to get audio going.

After my days of XP x64 and Linux, I thought I give Windows 7 Pro a try as that is a requirement for Eyefinity with 3 monitors (Linux is supposed to work too).
Created a partition and installed Windows 7. Then the latest W7 Catalyst Pro Control Center. Same story, only 2 displays at the time and no HDMI audio.
I started juggling with moninfo and EDID for the HDTV, but that all made not difference.

So, I am still stuck with 2 displays at the same time despite having a card with 3 ports and a youtube video showing me 3 monitors as one extended desktop using a FirePro card.

Well, maybe I am just not completely Eyefinity compatible with my cables, adapter and monitors.
After all this AMD advertising driving up to 6 monitors with one v4900 card, I thought my 2 monitors and the HDTV would be nothing complicated.
Seems I was wrong or reached the outer edge of my IT knowledge despite making a living with IT for donkey's years.

Seems for now I have to get a long audio cable now and switch one monitor off when I like to use my HDTV screen. Did I maybe buy the wrong card?

There is quite a log of writing about this 3 monitor and HDMI stuff on the new, but I have not really seen it working on monitors with different resolutions.

Ok, will do a little more reading about the different passive and active DVI/DP/HDMI adapters ... or get a card which is working in my configuration.

Sorry for the long posting, I did not have the time to make it shorter ;-)
December 3, 2011 8:56:05 PM

Looks like I am getting closer to my solution of driving two monitors and one HDTV with audio using the v4900 card.
After my excursion through the current generation of operating systems I had to scrape Ubuntu server and went with Windows 7. Under Ubuntu 11.10 server during a copy of 300GB using a USB 3 card to a PERC RAID 1 array the workstation more or less froze and I had to wait until the copy was over. Since I could not spend anymore time on fiddling with the operating system I went cowardly back to Windows ;-(

Regarding getting 3 monitors active at the same time there is a AMD supplied 'Multi-Display Configurations with Eyefinity' chart included in the retail box. Of course my particular port assignment was not on the list.
Well, I learned that the card only supports two different clock signals for monitors at the same time. DVI and HDMI require these clock signals while native DisplayPort does not. Anyhow, in order to get 3 monitors up and running at least one active adapter is required. It seems the 'Active Adapter' is telling the port that there is a native DisplayPort device connected, despite the device is e.g. DVI, HDMI, VGA ... while the passive adapter is a simple voltage level shifter (e.g. Startech DP2HDMI uses a Lontium LT8611A DisplayPort Repeater &. HDMI/DVI Level Shifter).

AMD states:
Quote:
You can connect up to two non-DisplayPort monitors at one time to an AMD Eyefinity technology-enabled graphics card using non-DisplayPort connections or passive DisplayPort dongles. To enable and drive 3 or more non-DisplayPort monitors at one time, the additional non-DisplayPort monitors must be connected with an active DisplayPort dongle.

So, if I am not completely wrong I should get a combination of one active adapter e.g. DP to DVI. I hope I can use the DVI port with a DVI monitor, replace the existing passive adapter DP to DVI with active one e.g. , scrap the Startech DP2HDMI passive adapter as I could not get the audio going (video is fine though) and get a working DP to HDMI (incl. HDMI audio)
adapter.
The active Startech DP2DVIS might be the right choice (even on the list of AMD validated dongles). But what the heck ... AMD recommends a bunch of different active adapters ...
1. Adapts: DisplayPort™ To: DVI (Single Link, Active Dongle)
2. Adapts: DisplayPort™ To: DVI-D Dual Link Active
3. Adapts: DisplayPort™ To: DVI-D Single Link Active

So, what is the difference between 1. and 3. Just the '-D' maybe?

.. will let you know if one day I might get this working.
December 14, 2011 1:15:13 AM

OK, here is my latest report ... got finally the StarTech DP2DVIS active adapter and the Accell B086B-001B UltraAV DisplayPort/HDMI-A passive adapter and I got my 3 monitors with HDMI audio up and running. If AMD would have sent an active instead of the included passive DP2DVI adapter (BizLink KS10009-131, $26), I would have saved a lot of time and $24 for the active adapter.
Anyhow, the StarTech adapter initially shocked me as my Dell 1801FP (with DVI) kept a black screen. The screen stayed black even during a reboot usually showing the BIOS startup information. After I switched to the other monitor (Dell 2407WFP, DVI) all started working and I had three monitors (2 monitors and a HDTV), all with different resolutions. So, I presume I am using the two available internal 'clocks' for the native DVI port and for the passive DP2HDMI adapter, while the active DP2DVI adapter pretends to be native DP and therefore no internal clock signal is required. Works for me and I do not have to return the v4900 card. I think AMD needs to make this much clearer!

Regarding the HDMI audio (not plugged in) issue, the Accell passive adapter is doing the right thing and I have to dump the Startech DP2HDMI adapter which showed 'Samsung, DFP, DVI', while the Accell shows now ' Samsung, DFP, HDMI). No more
Quote:
An HDMI-t-DVI display connection has been detected. In order to hear audio on your HDMI-based TV or display, you need to have a separate audio connection from your computer sound outputs ....

So, with other words, the Startech DP2HDMI adapter is actually a DP2DVI adapter with HDMI connector.
I am using a newer AMD HDMI audio driver, but I guess that does not make a difference (7.12.0.7702 from the latest CCC).
I can now enable the HDTV when needed and shift anything to that screen of my extended desktop. Set the HDMI audio as my default audio and all is correctly displayed on the HDTV, while I still can continue working on two monitors as extended desktop.
Cheers!
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