AMD ATI Radeon HD 5870: Unquestionably Number One
One of the more exciting new features of the Radeon HD 5800 series, ATI Eyefinity, is something we were able to tell you about a couple of weeks ago, but we'll go over it again here. ATI Eyefinity technology, in essence, allows for multiple monitors to be used as a singlem large display. As it stands today, for the most part, when multiple monitors are connected to a single PC, those monitors are recognized as independent displays and can be configured for desktop spanning or mirroring, etc. With ATI Eyefinity, however, the displays are arranged in a single group (or in multiple groups) and they are treated as a single display by the OS. The technology was made possible in part by DisplayPort which does not require individual clock signals for each connected display and by a new Output Crossbar implemented within the GPU that allows for data to be sent from the display pipeline out to the necessary display, regardless of where it is connected on the card.
Eyefinity is enabled through a combination of hardware and software being developed by AMD. On the hardware front, AMD's upcoming Radeons will sport between 3 and 6 display outputs of various types, DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI, etc. And those outputs will be managed by software currently dubbed SLS, or Single Large Surface. Using the SLS tool, users are able to configure a group of monitors to work with Eyefinity and essentially act as a single, large display.
11,520 x 4,800 - 55.3 megapixels, From Four Cards
During our experiences with Eyefinity, we have been impressed. The technology allows for some exciting possibilities. For example, six, 30" Dell 3008WFP panels can be grouped as a single display, in a 3 x 2 arrangement, with a resolution of 7680 x 3200--that's about 24.6 megapixels if you do the math. And a single Radoen HD 5800 series card is all that is necessary to power the displays. In such a configuration, the Windows desktop functioned as one monolithic surface, with all of that expansive resolution available to the user. What was more impressive than that though, was gaming on the six screens. We played an upcoming DX11 racing game, Dirt 2, at a resolution 7680 x 3200 with perfectly acceptable frame rates--a hint at the power of the Radeon HD 5800 series. We also spent some time gaming across three 30" displays in a 3 x 1 configuration with Left 4 Dead and have to say it absolutely changes the experience for the better.
Upcoming Samsung Thin-Bezel Displays
Currently, Eyefinity will support single-GPU configurations for gaming, but we're told CrossFire support will be coming at some point in the future as well. Please note, the technology will require that at least one of the displays be equipped with a DisplayPort connection.
We've also been informed that AMD has partnered with some display makers, like Samsung for example, that will be introducing new displays with ultra-thin bezels, designed with Eyefinity in mind. Samsung's thin-bezel displays are pictured above.