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Part 2: AMD's Eyefinity Technology Explained

In the end, Eyefinity comes down to DisplayPort. You need the ports on the cards and on the monitors. Otherwise, all we’re having is a glorified VGA and TMDS discussion. AMD has placed its bets on the right technology. There’s no question that DisplayPort is the smart choice for monitor connectivity going forward. But the world doesn’t always lean toward smart, and when it does, that leaning doesn’t always come soon enough. So this is AMD’s big gamble. Right now, it has the obvious upper hand in multiple display technology, but whether that technical advantage can turn into a decisive competitive coup will depend on how quickly and enthusiastically monitor manufacturers and end-users alike embrace DisplayPort.

Dell's U2410 and its ports.Dell's U2410 and its ports.

Price remains a common concern with DisplayPort. For example, just prior to publication, the DisplayPort-enabled Dell U2410 (24" widescreen, 1920x1200, 400 cd/m2, IPS technology) was selling on Amazon for $679.99. This is one of the flagship 24" DisplayPort panels available today. However, Samsung’s 24.6" SyncMaster P2570, which is a little faster, a bit less bright, most mostly similar except for being TN-based and omitting DisplayPort and VGA connectivity, is selling over on Newegg for $299.99. Why the disparity?

Samsung's output arraySamsung's output array

“It’s volume,” says AMD’s Parfitt. “As the volume of DisplayPort monitors increases, the price will decrease. But notice too that DisplayPort monitors have more connectors than just DisplayPort. They have VGA, DVI, HDMI. Some of the higher-end ones even have composite and component. All of those connectors add to the cost.”

Parfitt adds that the monitor controllers also have scalers for shifting low-res input up to the native resolution of the panel. A lot of these electronics can go away if people implement VESA’s Direct Drive Monitor (DDM) model. DDM is a set of design guidelines meant to help simplify DisplayPort monitors, lowering both their materials count and power consumption. A DDM display has a DisplayPort receiver and connects directly to the LCD panel, not a bunch of intermediary electronics. There’s no need for in-monitor scalers if you already have a good GPU handling scaling. Once vendors implement Direct Drive monitors, the overall price of the displays should drop significantly, but this brings us back to a chicken and egg problem. Until a sufficient number of DisplayPort adapters are being sold, monitor vendors won’t be able to hit the volume numbers they want to make those savings feasible.

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