117% Color Gamut, Image Scaler and DisplayPort Interface Overview
An Even Wider Color Gamut:
We know what you're thinking; Why would an LCD's color gamut performance need to be anything more than 100%? This is a good question that probably will occur to some of you familiar with the recent updates to Dell and HP 30" panels that brought performance up to 92% color gamut reproduction. The long and short answer to this question is, more is, well, better. With a keen sense of the obvious, we're sure you're craving a bit more data here. Allow us to explain.
Color gamut can be described as the entire avaialable range of colors that a device can reproduce. For example, you computer monitor can generally display a wider color range than say your inkjet printer. Dell claims the new 3008 WFP can reproduce up to 117% of the standard NTSC color gamut. In other words, this new panel has the capacity for color resolution, range and fidelity above and beyond this standard specification. In fact, Dell claims the UltraSharp 3008 WFP supports Adobe 98 color standards which is a significant advantage for those in the desktop publishing market especially.
Built In Image Scaler Processor:
As you may be aware, LCD are built with something called "native resolution" in mind. That is to say that LCD screens are built with a fixed array of pixels displaying the image across the entire screen area. When a source image is transmitted to the screen at native resolution, the image will look perfectly accurate. However, when an image is transmitted that is anything other than the panel's native resolution, take 2560X1600 in the case of 30" LCDs for example, the image must be scaled in order to fit the screen. Scaling causes distortion and that's when things begin to look less than crisp, especially in comparison to running the panel at its native resolution.
Most standard LCD panels rely on the graphics card to provide the image processing for scaling above or below native resolutions. However, one of the ways you can clean up scaling artifacts while not running at native resolution would be through a dedicated image processor, like those that are found in all HDTVs on the market today. The Dell UltraSharp 3008 WFP has one of these very same scaler processing engines on board. Though we asked Dell representatives what chip was under the hood, they declined to comment but we'd suspect that its likely the Silcon Optix Realta or possibly AMD's ATI Xilleon chip. We'll have more on our results with resolution scaling in the pages ahead.
A New Connector Interface - DisplayPort:
As we noted earlier, the new Dell UltraSharp 3008 WFP also is one of the first LCD panels on the market to offer a DisplayPort interface. DisplayPort is a new digital interface standard ratified by VESA (Video Electronics Standard Association), that is poised to supplant DVI and DVI-D in the future. DisplayPort, like its TV-connected cousin HDMI, also carries audio signals with 16-bit color per channel. The interface supports up to 10.8Gbit/sec data rates and WQXGA resolutions of 2560X1600 over significantly longer cable lengths of up to 15 meters.
DisplayPort is a competitor to HDMI but targeted solely for computing platforms. All signals will travel through the DisplayPort cable including video, audio, microphone and panel control I/O. However, an interesting debate may unfold later relative to the adoption rate of DPCP or DisplayPort Content Protection, which is competitive to HDCP, was developed by AMD, and as such will also be licensed by AMD.
Dell has been on the forefront of driving the new DisplayPort interface for years now, so it's not surprising to see them hit the market first with a DP enabled monitor. Of course, AMD has also been firmly behind the standard and are planning to offer DisplayPort-enabled graphics products and DP-enabled motherboard chipset variants with integrated graphics. In fact, in order to test the DisplayPort connection on the new Dell 3008 WFP, we called on AMD for assistance with a graphics card that was up to the task.
What you're looking at here is a DisplayPort ready RV635 XT Graphics card from AMD, though we completed all DisplayPort testing on an RV620 card. As you can see, the surrounding circuitry near the connectors is minimal and gone are those all too familiar Silicon Image dual link DVI transmitter chips. As you can see, the connector's tiny form-factor allows multiple ports to fit on a standard adapter card backplate and additionally, you can run multiple DisplayPort-ready panels from a single cable connection.