12K gaming rig renders 1.5 billion pixels per second for just $17,000
Got cash to spare, wnnay go a little extreme ? Though it requires a custom driver fro AMD in the future you can make this happen. Microsoft Blog rounded up a trio of Sharp PN-K321 32-inch 4K monitors and wired them to a Windows 8 PC stuffed with three ASUS 7970 GPUs. The $17,000 experiment proved two things: Such tech is outside our price-range and it takes a huge amount of support to get it working. For instance, before AMD wrote custom drivers to make Eyefinity and multi-stream transport play nicely together, the framerate was a meager 8FPS. Video after the break.
It's worth noting that even after all that, demos only lasted a few minutes before the computer's power supply would conk out -- but maybe the kinks will be fixed in time for us to play Battlefield Bad Company 5 on it.
Blog: I wanted to see how the 4K gaming experience would change when the screen refresh rate was pushed from 30 Hz to 60 Hz. Finally, I thought it would be amazing if I could push a tri-mon 4K setup to 60 Hz. Things were about to get real interesting.
12K Multi-Mon PC Gaming
So there I was rolling a cart with $15,000 worth of displays towards the lab. What am I going to try first I asked myself… How about a 3x1 12K setup with a DirectX 11 game? I couldn’t wait to get started.
The first question that I had was how I was going to connect these displays to a PC. I then pondered how much graphics horsepower I would need to run a DirectX 11 game at 30 Hz (the highest frame rate possible over single-stream connections). I called up my friend Jeff from AMD to discuss this project, and he said “I have just the video card for this”. Jeff brought over an ASUS HD 7970 DirectCU II card that is equipped with four full-size DisplayPort outputs.
Once the displays were setup and connected via DisplayPort, I created a 3x1 Eyefinity display group in the AMD Vision Engine Control Center. Wow! A display surface with a resolution of 11,520 x 2,160 – amazing!
I opened the Display Control Panel and confirmed that Windows now saw this Eyefinity display group as a giant display surface:
This setup is the equivalent of 12 1920x1080 displays, that’s a total of 24,883,200 pixels! The last time I tried DirectX 11 gaming at 4K I used a single AMD 7970 card and was able to hold 30 Hz no problem with Max Payne 3. Now I was about to find out how the same graphics hardware would perform with three 4K displays running at 30 Hz. I decided to run Dirt3 since the panoramic effect of 3 displays would work well with that game. Would this setup be able to hold 30 Hz with a single AMD 7970 graphics card? I was about to find out!
Running Dirt3 at 11,520 x 2,160 with settings maxed out resulted in a frame rate just below the 30 Hz target. I closely examined my graphics settings, and was able to turn off some features that optimized the gameplay experience. One of the most important changes I made was to turn off multisampling as it’s not important at high resolutions and it does impose a performance penalty. Settling on medium to high overall settings I was able to hold an average frame rate of about 35fps. Because I was not dropping frames with this setup the overall gameplay experience was awesome, and the sheer quantity of pixels was truly like nothing I’ve experienced before!
This was an awesome setup, but I was also wondering how the 4K 60 Hz gaming experience would feel. The next logical step was to try out the MST (Multi-Stream Transport) capability that the Sharp PN-K321 supports to push the screen refresh rate up to 60 Hz.
Running completely untested private drivers and bumping up against thermal and power thresholds, we ventured forth towards our goal of 60 Hz 12K gaming.
With all settings on “High” except shadow detail and particles, we were able to maintain 62-67fps average, peaking over 70fps. We were both able to experience this awesome gaming setup for several minutes each before the PSU would reset due to power overload. Perhaps we didn’t have 50 watts to spare. We reached our goal and were able to see into the future of multi-mon gaming. Now that’s a great day at work!
Here are some statistics for this demo:
- GPU cores: 3 x 2,048 = 6,144 total cores
- Rendered pixels per second = 11,520 x 2,160 x 60 Hz = 1,492,992,000
Regrettably I did have to ship back these amazing displays.