Setting up 3x3 monitors with two AMD HD6990's (now running an NVidia NVS 510!)

Discussion in 'Video Cards & Monitors' started by HyRax1, Dec 20, 2011.

  1. HyRax1

    HyRax1 ¡Viva la Resolutión!

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    Hi guys,

    I am in the process of setting up two HD6990 cards for a videowall comprised of 3x3 1366x768 near-bezel-less monitors.

    The monitors are DVI displays connected via active MiniDP to DVI adapters. Since the HD6990 only has four MiniDP ports, the first eight monitors are connected on MiniDP and the ninth is connected on the second card's DVI port. The first card's DVI port is not utilised.

    The primary purpose of this setup is to play full-screen 1080p video.

    The controlling PC is running Windows 7 Professional (64-bit). The Catalyst drivers are version 11.12 (13th Dec 2011).

    Now, while I've managed to easily setup extended desktop over all nine displays, I cannot for the life of me get video to play across all nine displays as one screen. When you maximise the window, it will only maximise to that screen the video playback window is on. Full-screen mode also only operates on the current screen.

    I can appreciate that Eyefinity is intended to stitch together multiple displays into one big display, but as I understand it, this can only be done with up to six monitors and even then they have to be on the same card, AND they have to all be connected via DisplayPort, necessitating the use of a Multi-Stream Transport Hub (which don't appear to exist yet) to provide the fifth and sixth DP connections on the HD6990.

    Now since people have successfully had nine monitor displays running with games in a 3x3 config using tools like SoftTH (as evidenced by YouTube), is there any way to make a Windows 3x3 desktop appear as one giant screen to the system (perhaps even using SoftTH)?

    I thought dealing with Matrox's solution was bad (dumped due to lack of hardware video decoding on the card), but this one is proving to be a real PITA.

    Any help appreciated.

    June 2016 Update: The videowall has now been upgraded to an NVidia NVS 510 graphics card connected to three Matrox Triplehead2Go DP units. With the better driver support, it now runs Ubuntu Linux 16.04 LTS, uses the one GPU to drive all nine displays and happily plays 4K UHD 2160p video up to 60fps without breaking a sweat.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2016
  2. SiriusDragon

    SiriusDragon Member

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    One option could be to use a single card, 3 display ports, and 3 of the Matrox Displayport TH2Go boxes. They support up to 3 x 1680x1050 monitors each, and then with 3 of them on the one card that gives you the 9 monitors you require.

    What you'd then do is setup an eyefinity group of the 3 big matrox monitors - so you'd effectively have 3 x 4098 x 768 monitors, which eyefinity can most likely easily handle.

    This way you can also get away with a much cheaper video card if you want as you only need 3 display ports :D
     
  3. OP
    OP
    HyRax1

    HyRax1 ¡Viva la Resolutión!

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    Sounds good (and makes good sense too), but sadly the money has already been spent on the second HD6990. I might be able to justify an MST Hub but not three TH2TG's, at least not now anyway. :(
     
  4. SiriusDragon

    SiriusDragon Member

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  5. OP
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    HyRax1

    HyRax1 ¡Viva la Resolutión!

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    Interesting - I'll check it out.

    EDIT: Bugger, can't use it - it's only DisplayPort 1.1a compatible, and I need DisplayPort 1.2 or the monitor's EDID info cannot be read (discovered that the hard way).
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2011
  6. SiriusDragon

    SiriusDragon Member

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    Good luck :D :thumbup:
     
  7. BluBoy

    BluBoy Member

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    As for a software solution... In sure you have been all over the eyefinity settings... So look at 3Rd party apps like display fusion and actual multiple monitors... I think these have the ability to do what you want
     
  8. Dark_Merlin

    Dark_Merlin Member

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    Have you tried using a player such as VLC? With my two 1920*1080 monitors I'm able to maximize the window and have video playing in the one window on both monitors - meaning it should work for 9 monitors :p

    I only use a single HD5870 though - perhaps it's something to do with the multiple cards
     
  9. OP
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    HyRax1

    HyRax1 ¡Viva la Resolutión!

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    Display Fusion looks interesting - will have a play with that today. I should point out that I can happily span windows across multiple monitors - they just won't maximise to the 9 screens as one, so maybe Display Fusion can fix that for me.

    Eyefinity only gives me a maximum display option of 5x1 or 2x2. I can't even get 3x2 going because even though the card supports six monitors, there are only four MiniDP outputs on the card (fifth being the DVI port which is technically useless to me) and that means using an MST Hub to get ports five and six.

    Yes, I've tried this and once again, it only maximises to the current monitor, but I can span the window over multiple displays by dragging it manually - obviously not an optimal solution. ;)

    It's only Eyefinity that is the issue here working with multiple cards (ie: I theoretically cannot make a single stitched display higher than 6 monitors such as 3x2) - as individual extended desktops, the cards happily work with each other.
     
  10. IMtech

    IMtech (Banned or Deleted)

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    That was my first thought after reading the OP too. What kind of software did you try to play the videos with?
     
  11. OP
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    HyRax1

    HyRax1 ¡Viva la Resolutión!

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    I've tried Windows Media Player and VLC. I'll probably give MPlayer a go too, but I suspect it will play similarly to VLC.

    Here's the videowall - Nine screens setup as individual extended desktops working quite happily:


    Click to view full size!


    Here's a basic Windows screensaver test. The first eight screens are connected via MiniDP and the ninth is connected via DVI. Interestingly the DVI monitor is the odd one out here.


    Click to view full size!


    Here is VLC running a test 1080p video with the window stretched across multiple extended desktops. Not an ideal setup. Windows Media Player can do the same thing.


    Click to view full size!


    Here is what happens when you tell VLC to play "full-screen" - it only does so on one monitor, not all nine. Windows Media Player also does this.


    Click to view full size!


    If I enable VLC's Direct3D wallpaper feature, I can cover all nine monitors, but the performance is terrible - playback of 1080p is about 5fps.


    Click to view full size!


    And for those who like seeing cables, here's the back of the box with the two Radeon HD6990 cards connected up.


    Click to view full size!


    After I give Display Fusion a stab, I'll be trying out a quick Ubuntu Linux setup as well, since Linux handles its multiple desktops differently, I might be able to work around this issue.
     
  12. FLB

    FLB Member

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    What about ultramon which can maximise windows to utilise all screens in an extended setup?
     
  13. Madengineer

    Madengineer Member

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    That is awesome!!

    Good luck with trying to work it out!
     
  14. SiriusDragon

    SiriusDragon Member

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    Considering the box overrides the EDID anyway and sends its own EDID to the video card (to trick it into seeing 1 giant monitor) is the lack of DisplayPort 1.2 that much of an issue? Or do you mean something else? ie. is there something else in the EDID that needs to be passed through?

    Are you using DVI or VGA monitors? The box goes from DP -> 3 DVI, so that's why I thought it'd be ideal.
     
  15. OP
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    HyRax1

    HyRax1 ¡Viva la Resolutión!

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    The last DisplayPort 1.1a hardware I used only allowed me to display 640x480 on the monitors. Almost cost me $600 in the process, but luckily after a bit of persuasion, the vendor took the hardware back and refunded me.

    The monitors are connected via single-link DVI via an extender box that sends the signal over ethernet from the rack where another box converts it from the PC's DVI output (via active MiniDP adapters). No VGA anywhere, but the extenders along with the HD6990 appear to want to exert their demands for DisplayPort 1.2 requirements, so I can't take the risk buying extra hardware that doesn't at least satisfy that requirement. Enough money has been spent on this videowall already (over $100K).
     
  16. CQGLHyperion

    CQGLHyperion Member

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    You would have been better off buying an 8 port + 4 port matrox cards and using the matrox software to create one large desktop.

    Sure they will be more expensive then 2 x 6990 but they do what you needed straight out of the box.

    It bemuses me why people go for gaming cards instead of properly designed and built display adapters for projects such as this.
     
  17. OP
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    HyRax1

    HyRax1 ¡Viva la Resolutión!

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    This is the exact solution we had before and ceremoniously dumped (M9188 plus M9148). Why? Becuase those cards have absolutely no hardware video decoding acceleration on board. The only thing they are good for is 2D graphics and even then, the WDDM drivers do not work with the 8-port card working in tandem with the 4-port card, forcing you to use the XPDM driver. They've been broken for a long time and Matrox blames Microsoft for this and can't/won't fix it. The only fix is to spend over $6,000 buying two M9188 cards to make the WDDM drivers work properly, and even then you are still stuck without the ability to play 1080p video without resorting to a Xeon workstation-spec PC to play it (ie: CPU decoding).

    The best we could play was DVD-resolution video which at the size of that videowall looks horrendously pixellated, and the horizontal tearing was seriously bad because you cannot control vsync with the Matrox cards. The control software is seriously woeful.

    The Matrox cards are not suited to video playback (as admitted in several emails to and from Matrox in America), which is why we decided to go back and look at gaming cards. The Matrox cards are better suited to static displays such as airport timetables, Flash animations and single-monitor low-res video playback (such as advertisements).

    Update so far: Display Fusion and Ultramon do not help - they maximise only to the middle screen despite settings set to maximise to all screens. :(

    Moving on to trying Linux.
     
  18. sammy_b0i

    sammy_b0i Laugh it up, fuzzball!

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    In regards to one of the previous replies to you Hyrax, don't you just love it when people talk down to you like you're an idiot? :rolleyes:

    As for your issues, I'm interested to see what happens under linux. I'm quite surprised that Ultramon wasn't able to help with anything. Will keep an eye on the thread. :thumbup:
     
  19. dmandn

    dmandn Member

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    I can appreciate that Eyefinity is intended to stitch together multiple displays into one big display, but as I understand it, this can only be done with up to six monitors and even then they have to be on the same card, AND they have to all be connected via DisplayPort, necessitating the use of a Multi-Stream Transport Hub (which don't appear to exist yet) to provide the fifth and sixth DP connections on the HD6990.

    Fairly sure ports on all gfx cards can be used for eyefinity, guessing there's a limit, but also quite certain there was someone running a 4x3 setup with eyefinity.

    Here's some evidence: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6Vf8R_gOec
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2011
  20. OP
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    HyRax1

    HyRax1 ¡Viva la Resolutión!

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    Well, the last line he posted wasn't necessary but he did provide perfectly valid input - the Matrox product is a videowall solution, but it's just simply not suited to, er... video. ;)

    According to AMD's FAQ, you can only create an Eyefinity group with displays on the same graphics card, so in that YouTube clip, they likely have one Eyefinity group per card. Three cards of six outputs means three Eyefinity groups. Those three Eyefinity groups ultimately present to the system as three giant monitors which are then grouped together using software such as SoftTH (or equivalent) to make one super-giant monitor.

    In the case of Linux, the way it handles multiple monitors/desktops is different to Windows in that the rules aren't so strict, but I still don't know whether or not it will get me past the potential limitation that my ninth monitor being on native DVI presents to me.

    I'll know sometime tomorrow - I have Linux built on the box now with the latest Catalyst drivers and it's working fine for general 3D and video playback on a single monitor so I'll start configuring it for multiple monitors tomorrow and see what happens on the video front with the likes of VLC, MPlayer and Totem.
     

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