Display Tech, Cont: Fast HDMI

Moving on from multi-monitor applications, AMD has not only been working on technologies for multi-monitor users. Southern Islands will also include some video and movie technologies that will be relevant for single and multi-monitor uses alike.

With the 6000 series AMD upgraded their DisplayPort capabilities from DP 1.1 to DP 1.2. With Southern Islands AMD will be upgrading their HDMI capabilities. Currently AMD supports a subset of the complete HDMI 1.4a specification; they can drive S3D displays (the killer feature of 1.4a), but that’s the only thing out of 1.4a they support. HDMI also introduced support for 4K x 2K displays, but both displays and devices that can drive them have been rare. As displays start to become available so too does support for them with AMD’s products.

As per the relevant specifications, both DP 1.2 and HDMI 1.4a can drive 4K x 2K displays, but with the 6000 series the hardware could only handle such a display over DP 1.2. With HDMI it was an issue of bandwidth, as HDMI is based on DVI and uses the same TMDS signaling technology. At normal speed HDMI only has as much bandwidth as single-link HDMI (~4Gbps) which is not enough to drive such a large display. DVI solved this with dual-link DVI, whereas as of HDMI 1.3 the HDMI consortium solved this by tightening their cable specifications to allow for higher clocked transmissions, from 165MHz up to 340MHz.

It’s this higher transmission speed that AMD is adding support for in Southern Islands. AMD calls this Fast HDMI technology, which as near as we can tell is not any kind of HDMI trademark but simply AMD’s branding for high speed HDMI. With Fast HDMI AMD will be able to drive 4K x 2K displays over HDMI – which looks like it will be the common connector for TVs at those high resolutions – along with being able to support 1080P S3D at higher framerates with next-generation TVs. Currently AMD’s cards and TVs alike can only handle 1080P frame packed S3D at up to 48fps (24Hz/eye), or with a bit of hacking up to 60fps (30Hz/eye), which is fine for 24fps movies but much too low for gaming. As next-generation TVs add support for 1080P frame packed S3D at 120fps (60Hz/eye) Southern Islands products will be the first AMD products able to drive them over HDMI through the use of Fast HDMI.

The only remaining questions at this point are just how high does AMD’s Fast HDMI clock (they don’t necessary have to hit 340MHz), and if AMD will add support for any other features that higher bandwidths enable. AMD says that Southern Islands supports “3GHz HDMI”, which appears to be a misnomer similar to how we commonly refer to GDDR5 by its “effective clockspeed” in GHz, even though that’s not actually how it operates. In which case with Fast HDMI AMD may be referring to the maximum throughput per channel, which at 300MHz would be 3Gbps. 300Mhz would still be enough to implement features such as Deep Color (48bpp) over most current resolutions.

Display Tech: HD3D Eyefinity, MST Hubs, & DDM Audio Video & Movies: The Video Codec Engine, UVD3, & Steady Video 2.0
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  • Wreckage - Thursday, December 22, 2011 - link

    That's kind of disappointing. Reply
  • atticus14 - Thursday, December 22, 2011 - link

    oh look its that guy that was banned from the forums for being an overboard nvidia zealot. Reply
  • medi01 - Tuesday, January 03, 2012 - link

    Maybe he meant "somebody @ anandtech is again pissing on AMDs cookies"?

    I mean "oh, it's fastest and coolest single GPU card on the market, it is slightly more expensive than competitor's, but it kinda sucks since AMD didn't go "significantly cheaper than nVidia" route" is hard to call unbiased, eh?

    Kind of disappointing conclusion, indeed.
    Reply
  • ddarko - Thursday, December 22, 2011 - link

    To each their own but I think this is undeniable impressive:

    "Even with the same number of ROPs and a similar theoretical performance limit (29.6 vs 28.16), 7970 is pushing 51% more pixels than 6970 is" and

    "it’s clear that AMD’s tessellation efficiency improvements are quite real, and that with Tahiti AMD can deliver much better tessellation performance than Cayman even at virtually the same theoretical triangle throughput rate."
    Reply
  • Samus - Thursday, December 22, 2011 - link

    I prefer nVidia products, mostly because the games I play (EA/DICE Battlefield-series) are heavily sponsered by nVidia, giving them a developement-edge.

    That out of the way, nVidia has had their problems just like this card is going to experience. Remember when Fermi came out, it was a performance joke, not because it was slow, but because it used a ridiculous amount of power to do the same thing as an ATI card while costing substantially more.

    Fermi wasn't successful until second-generation products were released, most obviously the GTX460 and GT430, reasonably priced cards with quality drivers and low power consumption. But it took over a year for nVidia to release those, and it will take over a year for ATI to make this architecture shine.
    Reply
  • kyuu - Thursday, December 22, 2011 - link

    Wat? The only thing there might be an issue with is drivers. As far as power consumption goes, this should be better than Cayman. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Sunday, March 11, 2012 - link

    He's saying the 28mn node will have further power improvements. Take it as an amd compliment - rather you should have. Reply
  • StriderTR - Thursday, December 22, 2011 - link

    EA/Dice are just as heavily sponsored by AMD, more in fact. Not sure where your getting your information, but its .. well ... wrong. Nvidia bought the rights to advertize the game with their hardware, AMD is heavily sponsoring BF3 and related material. Example, The Controller.

    Also, the GTX 580 and HD 6970 perform within a few FPS of each other on BF3. I run dual 6970's, by buddy runs dual 580's, we are almost always within 2 FPS of one and other at any given time.

    AMD will have the new architecture "shining" in far under a year. They have been focused on it for a long time already.

    Simple bottom line, both Nvidia and AMD make world class cards these days. No matter your preference, you have cards to choose from that will rock any games on the planet for a long time to come.
    Reply
  • deaner - Thursday, December 22, 2011 - link

    Umm, yea no. Not so much with nvidia and EA/DICE Batttlefield series giving nvidia a development edge. (if it does, the results are yet to be seen)
    Facts are facts, the 5 series to our current review today, the 7970, do and again continue to edge the Nvidia lines. The AMD Catalyst performance of particular note, BF3, has been far superior.

    Reply
  • RussianSensation - Thursday, December 22, 2011 - link

    ."..most obviously the GTX460 and GT430, reasonably priced cards with quality drivers and low power consumption. But it took over a year for nVidia to release those"

    GTX470/480 launched March 26, 2010
    GTX460 launched July 12, 2010
    GT430 launched October 11, 2010

    Also, Fermi's performance at launch was not a joke. GTX470 delivered performance between HD5850 and HD5870, priced in the middle. Looking now, GTX480 ~ HD6970. So again, both of those cards did relatively well at the time. Once you consider overclocking of the 470/480, they did extremely well, both easily surprassing the 5870 in performance in overclocked states.

    Sure power consumption was high, but that's the nature of the game for highest-end GPUs.
    Reply

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