Intel to update Ivy GPU drivers for QuadHD

Something amiss in the fine print though

Intel logo 87x80 Intel to update Ivy GPU drivers for QuadHDIntel is about to make a splash with new graphics drivers, and there is one interesting twist to the story. The idea is to allow Ivy bridge to output the QuadHD video, but one other line item makes this story interesting.

QuadHD is kind of a misnomer, named by marketing people to make the technology seem better than it really is. HD pictures are named for their vertical line count and scan type, 1080p is 1080 vertical lines progressive scan, 720p is 720 lines again progressive. 1080i is interlaced, but 1080 lines vertically, just not every frame. By all rights, QuadHD should be 1080 vertical lines times 4, progressively scanned 4320p.

Wrong. Now count by pixels, 1080p is roughly 2Mp, so QuadHD is 4 times that or an 8MP display. QuadHD sounds better than 2xHD, right?. This works out to be roughly 2180p, and the user gets a whole lot less than they thought they were getting. It is a triumph of marketing over honesty, something you would hope the target markets would see through, but don’t hold your breath. That said, a 3840*2160 picture looks astounding.

Given the current price tags, it better, and now Intel will support that spec too. They haven’t announced it yet, but that they plan on releasing drivers to enable QuadHD on Ivy Bridge, and it will happen before CES. If it is anything like the Viewsonic monitor above, and just about every other device on the market now that supports that resolution, it will probably use two DL-DVI signals to make the picture. Ivy Bridge has three display controllers, so this is no big deal, right?

Right. That would allow Intel to do a QuadHD picture and another 2560*1600 display for good measure by only tweaking output formats, a trivial task. Ivy Bridge’s lack of GPU performance is a bigger issue, but even that should be enough to do light duty 2160p work. But birdies in Santa Clara tell SemiAccurate that the new drivers will also enable four 1080p displays working independently for things like video walls.

There lies the rub, Ivy has three video controllers, four independent displays need, err, four. Shades of new math, eh? So how does it work? Does it require external hardware to fake things like Nvidia’s four display mode that can only actually do two surfaces? Does Intel require external hardware? Does it really work?

Short story, we don’t know, but the claim is that four 1080p displays will work out just fine. For the QuadHD part, ostensibly the purpose of this release, we think it will do exactly that. For using four 1080p displays, that is where we recommend you ask serious questions before you buy. No, test and verify. Twice, nay thrice. Something is fishy here.S|A

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 Intel to update Ivy GPU drivers for QuadHD

Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group.