Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | June 4, 2014 - 12:40 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: gsync, g-sync, freesync, DisplayPort, computex 2014, computex, adaptive sync
AMD FreeSync is likely a technology or brand or term that is going to be used a lot between now and the end of 2014. When NVIDIA introduced variable refresh rate monitor technology to the world in October of last year, one of the immediate topics of conversation was the response that AMD was going to have. NVIDIA's G-Sync technology is limited to NVIDIA graphics cards and only a few (actually just one still as I write this) monitors actually have the specialized hardware to support it. In practice though, variable refresh rate monitors fundamentally change the gaming experience for the better.
At CES, AMD went on the offensive and started showing press a hacked up demo of what they called "FreeSync", a similar version of the variable refresh technology working on a laptop. At the time, the notebook was a requirement of the demo because of the way AMD's implementation worked. Mobile displays have previously included variable refresh technologies in order to save power and battery life. AMD found that it could repurpose that technology to emulate the effects that NVIDIA G-Sync creates - a significantly smoother gaming experience without the side effects of Vsync.
Our video preview of NVIDIA G-Sync Technology
Since that January preview, things have progressed for the "FreeSync" technology. Taking the idea to the VESA board responsible for the DisplayPort standard, in April we found out that VESA had adopted the technology and officially and called it Adaptive Sync.
So now what? AMD is at Computex and of course is taking the opportunity to demonstrate a "FreeSync" monitor with the DisplayPort 1.2a Adaptive Sync feature at work. Though they aren't talking about what monitor it is or who the manufacturer is, the demo is up and running and functions with frame rates wavering between 40 FPS and 60 FPS - the most crucial range of frame rates that can adversely affect gaming experiences. AMD has a windmill demo running on the system, perfectly suited to showing Vsync enabled (stuttering) and Vsync disabled (tearing) issues with a constantly rotating object. It is very similar to the NVIDIA clock demo used to show off G-Sync.
The demo system is powered by an AMD FX-8350 processor and Radeon R9 290X graphics card. The monitor is running at 2560x1440 and is the very first working prototype of the new standard. Even more interesting, this is a pre-existing display that has had its firmware updated to support Adaptive Sync. That's potentially exciting news! Monitors COULD BE UPGRADED to support this feature, but AMD warns us: "...this does not guarantee that firmware alone can enable the feature, it does reveal that some scalar/LCD combinations are already sufficiently advanced that they can support some degree of DRR (dynamic refresh rate) and the full DPAS (DisplayPort Adaptive Sync) specification through software changes."
The time frame for retail available monitors using DP 1.2a is up in the air but AMD has told us that the end of 2014 is entirely reasonable. Based on the painfully slow release of G-Sync monitors into the market, AMD has less of a time hole to dig out of than we originally thought, which is good. What is not good news though is that this feature isn't going to be supported on the full range of AMD Radeon graphics cards. Only the Radeon R9 290/290X and R7 260/260X (and the R9 295X2 of course) will actually be able to support the "FreeSync" technology. Compare that to NVIDIA's G-Sync: it is supported by NVIDIA's entire GTX 700 and GTX 600 series of cards.
All that aside, seeing the first official prototype of "FreeSync" is awesome and is getting me pretty damn excited about the variable refresh rate technologies once again! Hopefully we'll get some more hands on time (eyes on, whatever) with a panel in the near future to really see how it compares to the experience that NVIDIA G-Sync provides. There is still the chance that the technologies are not directly comparable and some in-depth testing will be required to validate.
Subject: General Tech, Displays, Mobile | June 3, 2014 - 07:54 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: vesa, dockport, DisplayPort, amd
Remember DockPort? The three in one connection we have discussed in the past? The Thunderbolt-ish connection for devices with DisplayPort which allows transmission of audio and video plus USB data and power all on one connector. It's here! (even if the devices aren't quite common yet)
NEWARK, CA (3 June 2014) The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) today announced the release of the DockPort standard. Developed by several VESA member companies, DockPort is an optional extension of the DisplayPort standard that will allow USB 3.1 data and DC power for battery charging to be carried over a single DisplayPort connector and cable that also carries high-resolution audio/video (A/V) data.
This new extension of the DisplayPort standard is fully backward compatible with all existing DisplayPort devices. When a DockPort-enabled DisplayPort source such as a computer or tablet is connected with a DockPort-enabled DisplayPort sink such as a display monitor or docking station A/V plus USB data and power will be transferred over a common cable through a single connector. If either the source or sink device is not a DockPort-enabled, then source and sink will recognize only the DisplayPort A/V data stream.
As computing platforms become increasingly mobile, it becomes necessary to reduce the number of external connectors, explained Steve Belt, Corporate Vice President - Strategic Alliances & Solutions Enablement AMD, a VESA member company. With DockPort, VESA has developed a technology standard that enhances elegant docking designs, reduces mobile form factors, and enriches the user experience with streamlined, one-cable access to a wide range of external displays, peripherals and storage.
DockPort is the first royalty-free industry standard that combines these three essential interface functions into a single connector. VESA first revealed its intention to develop this standard at the 2014 International Consumer Electrics Show. It anticipates that several vendors will demonstrate DockPort-enabled DisplayPort systems at Computex Taiwan, which begins today.
Until today, most mobile computing platforms required three separate interfaces to support power charging, data transmission and external video, said Chris Griffith, Business Development Manager for Consumer and Computing Interface at Texas Instruments, a VESA member company. With DockPort, VESA has elegantly merged this ungainly tangle of wires into a single, sleek connector, combining power charging with the industrys most popular data transportUSBand the industrys highest-speed A/V transportDisplayPort. DockPort can reduce system implementation cost as designers can reduce external connectors and simplify docking implementations.
VESA is developing a compliance test protocol to certify systems that meet the DockPort standard. Systems that satisfy this test protocol will be permitted to display VESAs new DockPort logo on their packaging as a guide for consumers seeking this capability.
The new DockPort standard demonstrates the enormous adaptability of the DisplayPort standard, according to VESA Board Chair Alan Kobayashi, Fellow & Executive R&D Management for DisplayPort Group at MegaChips Technology America. On the one hand, DisplayPort is a flexible A/V transport protocol that easily coexists with other protocols, like USBit plays nicely with others. On the other hand, DisplayPort is also a robust and proven connector design whose electro-mechanical properties can accommodate data and power over a common passive copper cable and interface.
Subject: General Tech, Displays | April 6, 2014 - 02:41 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: vesa, freesync, DisplayPort, amd
According to French website, hardware.fr, the VESA standards body has accepted AMD's proposal for FreeSync into an extension of the DisplayPort 1.2a standard. FreeSync is the standards-based answer to NVIDIA's G-Sync, a process for allowing the monitor to time itself according to its driving GPU. At CES 2014, AMD claimed that the technology was already in development to be used for mobile devices to save power (less frequent monitor refreshes).
By presenting image to the user only when the work is complete, you can avoid "tearing" and latency. The tearing will be eliminated because the graphics card does not change the image being drawn by the monitor as it is trying to display it. The latency is eliminated because it does not need to wait until the monitor is ready (up to one-over-the maximum refresh rate of the monitor). It should also save power by reducing its refresh rate on slower scenes, such as an idle desktop, but that is less of a concern when you are plugged into a wall.
What does this mean? Nothing yet, really, except that a gigantic standards body seems to approve.
Specifications and Overview
Talk to most PC enthusiasts today, be they gamers or developers, and ask them what technology they are most interested in for the next year or so and you will most likely hear about 4K somewhere in the discussion. While the world of consumer electronics and HDTV has been stuck in the rut of 1080p for quite some time now, computers, smartphones and tablets are racing in the direction of higher resolutions and higher pixel densities. 4K is a developing standard that pushes screen resolutions to 4K x 2K pixels and if you remove the competing options discussion (3840x2160 versus 4096x2160 are the most prominent) this move is all good news for the industry.
I first dove into the area of 4K displays when I purchased the SEIKI SE50UY04 50-in 4K TV in April for $1300 when it popped up online. The TV showed up days later and we did an unboxing and preview of the experience and I was blown away by the quality difference by moving to a 3840x2160 screen, even with other caveats to be had. It was a 30 Hz panel, half a typical LCD computer display today, it had limited functionality and it honestly wasn't the best quality TV I had ever used. But it was 4K, it was inexpensive and it was available.
It was hard to beat at the time but the biggest drawback was the lack of 60 Hz support, the ability for the screen to truly push 60 frames per second to the panel. This caused some less than desirable results with Windows usage and even in gaming where visual tearing was more prominent when Vsync was disabled. But a strength of this design was that it only required a single HDMI connection and would work with basically any current graphics systems. I did some Frame Rating game performance testing at 4K and found that GPU horsepower was definitely a limiting factor.
Today I follow up our initial unboxing and preview of the ASUS PQ321Q 4K monitor with a more thorough review and summary of our usage results. There is quite a bit that differs between our experience with the SEIKI and the ASUS panels and it is more than just the screen sizes.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Displays | January 3, 2013 - 07:32 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ces 2013, CES, DisplayPort, amd
It has been several months since we first heard about AMD’s multi-stream transport hub -- its friends call it MST hub -- announced with the FirePro W600 last June. Since then news has been pretty quiet about the 1-to-4 DisplayPort device.
It turns out that AMD wants to roll the dice in Vegas along with several other demonstrations.
Image from Rage3D Forums
The cute feature for the MST is its ability to split a 4K image into four 2K monitors. The reason why this is cute is because the hub enables the user to plug four-times as many monitors as they have DisplayPort 1.2 sockets on their GPU. The W600, for instance, contains 6 DisplayPort 1.2 plugs which enable it to drive 24 separate monitors from a single-slot card.
Image from Rage3D Forums
Unfortunately, another feature of DisplayPort 1.2 is the ability to route sound uniquely to each display. The hub, as announced in June, is incapable of providing audio from its one input to its four displays.
A last goodie is the capacity to mix landscape and portrait monitors together in an Eyefinity setup. Stay tuned for our impending CES 2013 coverage for more details on these demos.
PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.
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