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Seekto Verify AMD Tech Support's Recommendation? | HD5970 Issues

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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March 5, 2012 8:26:11 PM

I've posted this question already to no replies (it's esoteric, I know), but because I received some advice (which seems dubious to me) from AMD technical support, I thought I'd change the question to see if anyone might know something about this:


To Summarize:

1. I'm attempting to connect (3) 30'' DVI monitors (at 2550x1600 max resolution) to an XFX HD5950 Black Edition Limited (6 miniDP outputs) video card - this is within spec for the card's functionality.

2. This doesn't work. Flickering, errors ("DisplayPort Link Failure," and "Low Power" Errors), monitors crash to black... power cycle brings them back... ANY use of the GPU (e.g. changing desktop background) destabilizes it. ONE monitor on adapter is the best it can run stably.

3. I (originally) have been using 3 ACTIVE (Accell brand) miniDP to DVI Dual Link Adapters to run each card. This is due to original advice on NewEgg reviews which had mentioned that to run 30'' monitors, such an adapter was required. AMD also states on its website that, to paraphrase, "Monitor configurations are not limited when active adapters are used." So... I just got 3 of them.

4. Accell technical support gave me a firmware upgrade for the adapters. Did nothing, but they were helpful overall.

5. AMD Technical support, after being confused as to why I wanted to connect 3 30'' monitors at max resolution... stated that in fact, I misinterpreted their requirements (because I have ALL DVI-only monitors... I think I was confused).

They tell me now that I should be using 2 PASSIVE mDP-DVI DualLink adapters for the first two monitors... and then 1 ACTIVE adapter for the 3rd monitor. They tell me this will work, at the max resolution.

I'm wondering - does anyone know this to be true... before I go buy yet more adapters?


6. AMD is unable to tell me why the 3 ACTIVE adapter solution I'm using doesn't work. I have a 1200w power supply, and I even powered the adapters from wall-USB to test their power reqs.
March 5, 2012 9:34:43 PM

1. Yes. I've probably read so much about it at this point I'm completely confused. I was told originally that passive adapters were associated with a lot of trouble, and that I'd be completely safe if I just went with Active ones.

2. So I did. Furthermore - the way AMD phrases it, if ALL your monitors are DVI (and you're using Eyefinity 6 cards, you 'can have 2 legacy connections (i.e. DVI) before you need an active adapter,' which is fine... but legacy connection... is a very unclear term.

3. The card doesn't have DVI... so you're using an adapter no matter what. They don't specify that you need to use Passive for the first 2 DVIs then switch to an active adapter when you get to #3.

4. Furthermore, I'm confused - what happens if I want to use a 4th DVI monitor? If I use another active adapter... won't I just have the same issues?

5. How... could I possibly have gone wrong by using active adapters for ALL the monitors? (AMD thinks it might be power related... but again, they also tell me if I want to add monitors 4 and 5... I can use Active adapters... which... makes no sense to me as that would be the situation I have now... just with 2 passive adapters on the card...

6. Experiment. I'm going to get the 2 passive adapters they told me get... and try that. Then I'm going to see if I can connect a 4th and 5th monitor (not because I want to... but at this point I'm just annoyed and confused at AMD) with active adapters and see if they work.

7. IF... these two passive adapters ALSO don't work... I have no idea what I'm going to do then.
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a b C Monitor
March 5, 2012 9:54:05 PM

Eyefinity works as 1 head per monitor. DVI, HDMI and DP, either thru active adapter or a DP monitor. If you are getting those errors, most likely one of your active adapters is bad. So try a DVI connection, an HDMI connection and 1 active adapter. Should work great that way. Nothing dubious about it. Running 3 active adapters may mean that they all arent getting max voltage due to you using 3 if that makes sense.
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March 5, 2012 10:08:06 PM

Sort of... I didn't know it was 1 'head' per monitor... I've never heard that.

I powered the adapters from a 2A wall usb charger because of these concerns (and obviously tested them on the mobo USB2.0 as well), and it didn't matter.

Are you saying I shouldn't get 2 miniDP to DVI Dual Link PASSIVE adapters? Because AMD told me that... and... my monitor isn't HDMI capable anyway...


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March 5, 2012 10:55:44 PM

http://support.amd.com/us/eyefinity/Pages/eyefinity-don...

-- This is... SO frustrating.... AMD doesn't even seem to have 'approved' versions of the miniDP to DVI Dual Link Passive adapter that their tech support told me to buy!

-- AND As I suspected... I don't think AMD tech support understands the issue. I cannot find ANYWHERE... MiniDP to DVI Dual Link Passive adapters... they're all active... which makes sense - I want 2560x1600 (Dual Link DVI) which is WHY I bought all these active adapters in the first place!

-- Unless... it's possible to get 2560x1600 (which I was very clear they understood the resolution of a 30'' WQXGA monitor is) with a SINGLE LINK MiniDP to DVI passive adapter, which... I'm almost positive... it is not.

-- Wow. Well... Guess you can close the thread now. AMD tech support == epic fail.
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a b C Monitor
March 5, 2012 11:20:32 PM

Here's my take on this, for what it's worth.

If this were a common problem you would have found more data up front. If it is as rare as it seems that must mean you have some sort of failed hardware issue. A failed adapter or ports on the card.

Have you tried XFX tech support?
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March 5, 2012 11:31:04 PM

I tend to agree - I notice not many people are using the Eyefinity 6DP cards (and on top of that mine is the rebranded 'LE' version just to make it even more obscure.

I haven't escalated to XFX yet... as I was pretty sure it was a basic adapter issue since I can make everything run on 1 monitor just fine. It's when it gets to 2 that the problems start... and 3 doesn't work at all.

I've tested the adapters independently... and they seem ok, it's the multiples that reproduce the problem.

I'll definitely talk to XFX for their take though, after I call AMD and yell at them for incompetence... and wasting yet more of my time and money...

Thanks for the tip though. If I could undo all the purchases... I would. My nV GTX285 ran both 30'' monitors... without incident for 2 years.
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March 6, 2012 6:40:14 PM

Just to terminate this discussion:

AMD support admitted their mistake... and claimed I have understood their annoyingly worded specs correctly, quoting a tech, "Every monitor can have an active adapter, and indeed, if you want 2560x1600, it needs one. I'm running the same setup as you are, and it works."

Accell said rollback the drivers... doesn't work.

XFX said... They'd never heard of this issue... it 'should' be working as I have it set up. I've done pretty much every conceivable troubleshoot.

RMA the card... let XFX reproduce the problem. I hope... they try to reproduce it on 3 30'' monitors... otherwise... there was no point to buy such an expensive card...
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March 6, 2012 6:42:15 PM

Also... the Tom's "Eyefinity sticky" that I keep being referred to... is no more explanatory than the footnotes on AMD's website. It's still confusing... and doesn't mention what I have known since I bought the graphics card - which is that those wanting WQXGA resolution NEED ACTIVE DUAL LINK ADAPTERS FOR EVERY SINGLE MONITOR... not just the first 1 or 2 or whatever.

AMD confirms this to be true.
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a b C Monitor
March 6, 2012 7:26:52 PM

Yep it's a brand new reference and I'm sure it needs work yet. I'll send a link to this thread to the author. Please do up date this thread as you get more feedback from XFX.
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March 6, 2012 8:32:00 PM

Wilco.

According to AMD it's not a very rare situation... but apparently for most people the adapters 'just work' so there isn't too much information about it.

But, on a much broader level... why is our display tech... (Eyefinity is basically a software hack) so primitive still? It really... should not be this difficult at this point in time...
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a b C Monitor
March 6, 2012 9:25:16 PM

Id say it is bound to be one of your adapters before it is the card. Those adapters, no matter who makes them, are crappy quality in terms of life. I bought 1 and it was bad. 2nd one worked, I was lucky. But I sent it back anyhow.
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March 6, 2012 9:42:54 PM

Oh, no doubt, it's almost humorous that the efforts of one of the world's largest microprocessor designers (AMD in this case)... would hinge completely on the shoddy work of adapter designers...

But I've tested them each independently and they're ok... it's only an issue when they're all plugged in together...

I suppose I could ask Accell to send me new ones (which I don't know if they would do)... before I initiate my GPU RMA...
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March 6, 2012 9:44:59 PM

** To be fair though... I suppose just 1 bad adapter... even if it worked individually... could mess with the others when plugged in as a group...
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a b C Monitor
March 7, 2012 6:01:32 AM

I don't know. The Display port technology uses packets much like a network protocol. That would mean that each adapter has to have a unique identifier, like a MAC address or such. What if two of them had the same address? That might cause an issue.
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March 7, 2012 4:06:08 PM

Wow... I did NOT know that at all (I've been frustrated enough to simply not investigate the technology underlying my problems) - but that would explain a lot.

i.e. Why many people have no issues when using only 1 adapter and why the signal from the gpu seems to jump from monitor to monitor at times.

If true though, how would it be possible to use 3 adapters... just keep getting them RMAed until you get 3 'unique' ones?
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a b C Monitor
March 7, 2012 7:23:24 PM

IF that were the case, then the problem would be one of design. Remember, most setups are not using 3 active adapters, so I can see a company trying to cheat, by producing an adapter that is not unique.

It's just an idea, don't get carried away with it :)  Perhaps the identifier is only needed for the port itself, not the adapter/monitor.

Much data here but no more time to work on it atm:
http://www.vesa.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/ICCE-Pre...
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March 7, 2012 7:34:30 PM

I could see that too. I'm just getting all new adapters, and for what its worth, AMD claims they run these kinds of multi-adapter setups in their tech lab.

Nice powerpoint.
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March 9, 2012 8:00:54 PM

Having FINALLY found other forums which confirm a similar problem to mine (I wasn't looking on Mac forums... but I realized that miniDP is a big Mac thing, and indeed, they have flickering/sync/and monitor crash-to-black issues, even when just running 1 monitor on these Active adapters (the Apple adapter is apparently a well-known plastic brick).

This refocused my attention on the adapters - While every company tells you it's not their product (since 'wow you are one of the first people to be having issues with our product'), I do tend to believe AMD/ATi when they say the card should not have any such subtle issues - i.e. if the card is bad... it wouldn't work at all. If there's flickering, sync issues, etc. it's almost certainly a connectivity issue... (and not likely all 6 GPU mDP connectors are bad on a box-new card.)

So that leaves adapters, monitors, or drivers (or Windows 7). While all of that has occupied my time... I found this on a Lenovo forum...

http://forums.lenovo.com/t5/T400-T500-and-newer-T-serie...

SMOKING GUN ACCELL... (at least for some people... their product clearly has untested issues).

This person did RMA on their first "Accell Active DP to DVI DualLink" and their 2nd one had the same issue... which logically makes sense. Having 3 of them myself, 1 from a different year/batch and firmware... makes me triply suspicious their RMA won't help me.

And finally, this person claims they fixed the issue with an adapter made by a different company (HP)... which originally I was very hesitant to do because AMD only approves the Accell one formally.

One thing though... they were using DP NOT miniDP... so I'm rather concerned about this... but either way... switching companies could be a good move nonetheless. HP... doesn't make a miniDP to DVI-DL, so I found:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Startech-com-Powered-DisplayPor...

Now... I also found another one by a company called CLUB. This one is for 3D monitors, which I don't use, but at the same time... it runs as a faster frequency... I'm not sure if this would be good... or bad...

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Club-3D-Displayport-ActiveDual-...


Anyone have any advice on which one to go with? I have to buy at least 2 obviously... to see if I get the multi-monitor issues I have with Accell.
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a b C Monitor
March 9, 2012 8:47:10 PM

I would probably try the cheaper one first. I would also try an externally powered USB hub, if you haven't been.
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March 9, 2012 8:49:56 PM

Seems reasonable - yes I use 10w/2A (iPad) charger for one, and other 1.5A chargers for the other 2; apparently that hasn't done much for other people though, nor myself.
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March 12, 2012 4:04:21 PM

RMA to XFX... but I'm very concerned that they won't reproduce the issue as exactly described (i.e. a lot of 'validating' of these cards is done with single-link adapters, NOT dual-link, even though WQXGA requires DualLink, and the cards are supposed to run that too).

Additionally... even if they did run it... without incidence... that doesn't do much for me... since after more than 30 troubleshoot possibilities... I can't make it work. Obviously it's likely to be some esoteric incompatibility... even though AMD claims my setup "should work perfectly."

XFX live tech support claims that they will test it to-spec to attempt a reproduction. If they find no issue though, they have assured me they will not substitute the card, and the fact that it doesn't work 'on my hardware' (i.e. validated adapters... and 30'' monitors that were current when this card came out...) is not an XFX problem.

XFX also has no legal department, or customer service department according to them... But a cursory on their website shows they are owned by an HKEx listed tech holding company called Pinegroup based in HongKong SAR, PRC.

Lesson the first so far... I usually get mobos and gpus ONLY from EVGA, no issues in more than a dozen such purchases. I decided to go with XFX because I liked the 6-monitor outputs... but I've learned it can make a huge difference who actually manufacturers the card - AMD technology is only as strong as its distributing partner...

So this doesn't get flagged as a rant... I have some summary data for anyone experiencing any multi-monitor issues with AMD cards:

1. XFX was very unfamiliar with their own card... at first denying it could run 6 monitors... then denying it could run them at 2560x1600, then believing the cards had 6 displayports... rather than miniDPs... BUT... they did say that they HAVE records of certain adapter/monitor/hardware configs simply NOT working... for unknown reasons.

That obviously... makes it really hard to purchase hardware, if you don't know that somehow... even if you buy AMD validated stuff (other than the monitors which AMD doesn't validate to my knowledge?) it MIGHT NOT work... and the card manufacturer won't take responsibility.

2. Reverting to earlier (much earlier, like 10.3) AMD Catalyst drivers does alleviate the problem to some extent... it makes the monitor crashing/sync loss/displayport errors far less frequent, but they do still occur, say once an hour under load (running a game or graphic design app).

3. It's almost certainly adapter-related. I haven't seen anyone report hard MiniDP to monitor connections with any issues. I would never have gone with the card if I had thought the adapters would be a problem. I was really taken in by the ATI sticker on the adapter... thinking that meant it was heavily tested (obviously they work for many, but the plethora of issues on online forums is also notable).

4. If possible, just avoid any kind of adapters. At least... that's my new rule.
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a b C Monitor
March 15, 2012 5:04:20 AM

Are you using the mDP adapters that shipped with ur cards?

My 5870's (eyefinity 6ed with 6mDP's) were shipped with a whole host of mDP to DP/DVI/HDMI/VGA adapters and i have not had an issue with these yet.

NOTE: i am not running WQXGA resolutions, just 1080p
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a b C Monitor
March 15, 2012 5:07:09 AM

I have PM'd u and will look to update the Eyefinity guide with updates RE WQXGA setup's
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March 15, 2012 5:59:30 AM

No - because I need to run dual-link active (to get 30'' res of 2560x1600), the adapters that come with the card were of no help. Because those aren't active, it makes me believe that the adapters are to blame for the many, many troubles I've experienced.

But at the same time, I had 3 of them, all of which were unlikely to be bad... I RMAed them as well as the card... and am waiting now to see if XFX will reproduce the errors.

I haven't heard of anyone having issues with single-link DVI adapters yet, so I have to imagine it's solely a dual-link problem. This is very disconcerting to me, since AMD and its partners of course advertise 2560x1600 (the monitor in theory can run 6 of those... even though apparently XFX wasn't familiar with that concept when I spoke to them), but obviously didn't really test very many configurations, or the ONLY company that they approved to make the active adapter, very well.

Not to vent too much, but having been an nVidia customer for more than a decade, 14 video card purchases without any issues... that my first AMD/ATI/XFX card (a $900 one no less) has these extremely irritating malfunctions, gives me reason to wonder if AMD/ATI deserve their super-minority market share...

And... yes updating the guide sounds good - be sure to note though, the issues are even before you get to setting up actual Eyefinity.
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March 26, 2012 4:46:34 AM

Just an update... for the proverbial record. XFX RMA claimed that the board is "Faulty" after their testing, and are in contact with me for replacement (probably an alternate as I don't think there are many of this supposedly limited edition GPU lying around). So they haven't quite told me exactly happened... and I'm not sure I'm ever going to find out...

Unfortunately, not to be too critical as I'm glad they're replacing it (I was worried initially they wouldn't be able to reproduce the error since I use a fairly extensive monitor assembly), but due to the rapidity (2 days) with which they replied, and the complexity of setting up the test case... I think 1 of two things happened:

1. They quickly just tested the ports (probably on display port monitors) and actually saw flickering/issues on them, and thus immediately diagnosed the board as a hardware fault. That would be interesting, since I don't have any DP monitors, and thus could not test that key diagnostic element.

OR

2. They decided the test case was too complex to bother reproducing, and just decided it'd be much simpler to just toss it and give me a replacement board.

Either way, depending on what they do viz. fair replacement, I'm pretty happy with the support overall, they're pretty communicative.

That said, it's actually a lot easier when stuff is just straight up DOA... it's obvious, and you don't waste a week playing with it.

On the other side of the coin, it's possible there is some low-level incompatibility going on, and the card is actually fine. The fact that a good number of people had these exact same issues, might support that.

I think in conclusion... I have a few lessons for any who don't ever want to waste a week playing with monitor adapters and USB wall power connectors...

1. Don't ever use adapters. They're often made by 3rd parties, that in fairness to them, don't have the resources to test them extensively, they're usually not good quality, and esp. in complex situations like this, where they need separate power and the like, I can't imagine its worth it.

2. Eyefinity seems to be a bit buggy (despite the fact that I couldn't really even get that far, I've used it on other machines). Even at its best, it always seems like a bit of a hack to me.

I don't really even game much, but in fact I was interested in gaming a bit more with eyefinity... indeed I think that's the power of these types of (disruptive) techs - they offer a unique value prop that isn't replicable (say on console) elsewhere. The fact that they can actually bring new people to play games (and not at a horrible price point mind you) is I think a huge advantage.

I can't wait to see mature versions of it, with no bezels, or projectors, as I've seen used.
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March 30, 2012 3:23:44 PM

XFX Replaced my BE Limited 5970 4GB with the similar 6990 4GB. I will still need to use 2 adapters, but luckily it has one DL-DVI output. I have to wait for the adapters, and then I will see if I can make everything work this time... I'm searching online to see if anyone's had issues with mDP adapters with this card...
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a b C Monitor
March 30, 2012 5:47:40 PM

I've got my fingers crossed for ya.
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April 16, 2012 11:02:12 PM

Ok - I don't know how to nominate a thread to be closed... but this one should be.

XFX (despite being both confused and rather hostile on the phone) came through and sent a replacement HD6990 (which is 4GB, basically nec. for multimonitors at highres), and Accell also replaced all 3 of their adapters.

In short, the system now works as originally advertised. Because I still never tested with mDP monitors, which I don't have, I'll never know for sure if it was the adapters or the card. XFX says the card was defective, but if I had thought that I would have just RMAed immediately - the fact that other people had the issue with multiple AMD partner's GPUs seems to point to incompatibility somewhere... obviously most people were either very satisfied (or used <WQXGA resolution, which has no reported issues).

It works now. I'm happy.

Still, caveat emptor.
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a b C Monitor
April 17, 2012 6:23:13 AM

Good deal. I'll change the thread type so that you can award a best answer.
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April 17, 2012 11:39:09 AM

Best answer selected by commissar_mo.
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a b C Monitor
a b À AMD
April 17, 2012 6:06:56 PM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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