The Crosshair Problem

With my wall of panels constructed it was time to plug them all in and begin the easy part. At POST and while starting Windows, only two of the panels actually display anything. Installing the driver and going through the Eyefinity setup process is the same as for a lesser number of displays. I will say that driver interactions involving creating/manipulating the six displays are sluggish. You just get the feeling that there's a lot going on under the hood. I've included a video below that shows a complete driver setup of a 6 display Eyefinity system so you can see for yourself. Pay attention to how long it takes for each display to activate at some points during the install.

With the software configured I had a single large display that appeared to Windows as a 5760 x 2160 monitor.  And here is where I ran into my first problem using an Eyefinity 6 setup.  Dialog boxes normally appear in the middle of your display, which in my case was at the joining of two monitor bezels. Here's an example of a dialog box appearing on an Eyefinity 6 setup without bezel correction:

Note how the dialog box is actually stretched across both panels. It's even worse in games, but luckily as of Catalyst 10.3 AMD has enabled bezel correction in the driver to avoid the stretching problem. While bezel correction makes things look more correct in games, it does cause a problem for anything appearing behind the bezel:

Half the time I didn't even notice when a little window had popped up asking me to do something because it was hidden by my bezels. This happens a lot during software installs where the installer is asking you a question while you're off paying attention to something else on one of your 6 displays. 

In my previous coverage on Eyefinity I mentioned that the thickness of the bezels wasn't an issue for gaming. In a three display setup I still stand by that. However with six monitors, particularly because of this occluded center point problem, bezel thickness is a major issue. 

It's an even bigger issue in certain games, particularly first person shooters because there's usually a crosshair in the middle of your screen. Take a look at what aiming in Battlefield Bad Company 2 looks like with an Eyefinity 6 setup:

Somewhere behind that bezel is an enemy on a vehicle. You simply can't play an FPS seriously on an E6 setup, you have to guess at where you're aiming if you're shooting at anything directly ahead of you. Here's another example in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat:

Eyefinity 6 was just not made for FPSes. The ideal setup for an FPS would actually be a 5x1 portrait mode, which is currently not supported in AMD's drivers. AMD is well aware of the limitation and is working on enabling 5x1 at some point in the future.

Racing, flight sims or other person titles are much better suited to this 6-display configuration. I recorded a video of our DiRT 2 benchmark as an example:

The experience in these sorts of games is much more immersive, although it is frustrating to only really be able to use a subsection of titles on such an expensive display setup. You may find that it's more affordable/immersive/useful to just take the resolution hit and get a good 720p or 1080p projector to hook up to your gaming PC instead.

The aspect ratio issues that are present with a 3x1 landscape setup aren't as prevalent in a 3x2 configuration. At 5760 x 2160 you're much closer to 16:9 than you would be at 5760 x 1080. Far more games stretch well to this resolution, although there's still a lack of good compatibility with the majority of games out there.

AMD claims it is working with developers on enabling proper FOV and aspect ratio adjustments for Eyefinity setups, but it's not always easy. AMD is also working on alternatives to deal with the crosshair problem - for example by making the games aware of bezel correction and shifting the position of the crosshair for Eyefinity users. The AMD Display Library SDK update includes resources for developers to use when developing for Eyefinity platforms.

Given the secrecy surrounding Eyefinity's creation it's not surprising that most developers haven't had the opportunity to include support for it in current titles. Going forward we should see more native support however. Some developers are viewing technologies like Eyefinity as a way of differentiating and promoting PC versions of console titles to help boost sales.

Completing the Eyefinity 6 Build More Games & Productivity
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  • cfaalm - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    Why don't AMD go talk to display manufactureres to thin out or even totally forego any bezels on Eyefinity compatible displays? In other dual/multiple screen situations than Eyefinity it can still be desirable to have real thin or no bezels, so it won't be that far out. Reply
  • Aclough - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    They're working on them now, but they aren't out yet. Be warned that they'll probably cost more than normal monitors though. Reply
  • cfaalm - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    I expected they would cost a bit more. Though I don't have any figures on the premium I guess it would be worth it compared to what gains can be had it these special situations where you'd be spending a small fortune anyway. Reply
  • mjrpes3 - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    It's greatly in their interest to develop this technology: lowering the barrier and increasing the incentive to buy 3x or 6x quantity of a product. Reply
  • Calin - Thursday, April 01, 2010 - link

    Sell more cheap monitors instead of fewer expensive monitors? I don't think so. Reply
  • Calin - Thursday, April 01, 2010 - link

    The bezels are there with a purpose (strength, if nothing else).
    There are monitors with thin bezels - what we might need now could be pre-built monitors in 6x configuration, reducing as much as possible the bezel size (they could do it better in the factory). Maybe some boutique industry could spring from this? Something like the tuning shops in the auto industry
    Reply
  • behrouz - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    Hi Anand.
    this is very beautiful and the logo at top of page is better than previous logo.

    good luck.
    Reply
  • Manuel1975 - Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - link

    Does anybody know if there will be any mac drivers? This would be a formidable beast in combination with MacPro and Mediaserver Software... Reply
  • erple2 - Friday, April 02, 2010 - link

    I think that this tech would be wasted on a Media Server implementation. Unless you're talking about something different than what I'm thinking of. Streaming media to these devices would be essentially pointless, as few, if any, media is available at any resolution beyond 1080p.

    Putting it on a Mac makes even less sense, given that what makes this unique is the ability to run solid 3D games titles. And last I checked, there were few, if any, 3D games available on the Mac Platform.

    While Apple does offer multiple graphics cards in their MacPro systems, they're generally very low-end graphics products (currently NVidia GeForce GT 120 based), meant to drive CAD or other non-3D gaming applications. Those can easily handle any Media server load you could throw at it. I suppose you could make the argument that it could upscale the video to 2160p (doubling 1080p), but that seems to be pointless to me - just run a larger 1080p projector.
    Reply
  • Manuel1975 - Tuesday, August 03, 2010 - link

    Hi Erple,

    The media I use to drive multiple dipslays normaly reqiure something along the range of 640x480 to a 4k type of resolution. Although these high resolutions are not mainstream, Youtube for instance does alow you to upload videos in 4k resolution. The future of HD+ video is very very near.
    And nowadays OSX ships with something called quartz composer. This something you can compare with prosessing. Its OpenGL bases image synthesis. Truely amazing stuf: 4k+ resolutions rendered at 60hz. Eazely.

    Tip for your next post: try to think outside your box before posting.
    Reply

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