AMD is preparing a Catalyst release for the month of June but the company decide to reveal one of the more enticing updates to their software that I’ve been waiting for, for years – mixed monitor Eyefinity surround. Technically this was possible with monitors of multiple sizes and resolutions but it would bring all monitors down to the lowest common height measured in pixels. Ergo, a configuration with two 1920 x 1200 monitors and one 1080p monitor would mean that black bars appear on the other monitors, but still with 1:1 pixel mapping.
Doing the same thing with a 1080p monitor and two 4:3 CRT monitors would result, at least in one case that I managed to get working, a maximum height of 1024 pixels. Now AMD says “no more!” Eyefinity in the Catalyst 14.6 drivers. Hit the jump to find out more.
The first change is in the kinds of resolutions allowed in the Eyefinity group. The top diagram is more than likely a mistake on AMD’s part, because I do now know of any 1920 x 1600 monitors. In any case, when placing a 1920 x 1200 monitor in the middle the software will now match up the middle display with the 4:3 aspect ratio of the side monitors and there’ll be normal bezel compensation and normal pixel scaling. Nothing spectacular here.
The second diagram is the other new supported mixed resolution – putting a 21:9 monitor in with two 16:9 1080p monitors. This means that you have a huge amount of viewing area and the possibility that the side monitors don’t squish the image that makes up your peripheral vision too much. In fact, if you’re setting up an Eyefinity group, this may be the preferred setup for landscape operation.
The second change is a new “fit” display mode option. Instead of messing with the pixel scaling on your monitors when you have monitors with different native resolutions, one can have it set up that only the monitors that don’t match the horizontal height have black bars to letterbox the image better.
This also extends to displays with a smaller display in the middle than on the sides. Its an odd grouping for future but if you have a 120Hz middle monitor and two 60Hz side monitors, you’re probably going to try this out at least once. With Catalyst 14.6, this will be possible and bezel compensation and pixel scaling will be perfectly fine. Its just the lack of information from that hidden area that may be a pain.
At least with AMD, though, there’s always choice in how things are set up. The “fill” and “expand” modes solve exactly that problem. Fill mode makes all of the information displayed on-screen, but there will be a slight mismatch in what you see on-screen, even with bezel compensation or a multi-monitor flexible arm mounting system. One can, however, push the middle display further away and bring the side monitors nearer to you, eliminating that relative size difference.
Expand mode is the opposite setup, but now everything is where it should be. The Catalyst software creates a virtual resolution of 6400 x 1600 and then hides whatever the side monitors cannot display, leaving everything else as is and rendering the picture perfectly. This will be the best compromise for many people, as they will now be able to use the smaller monitors they have lying around to make up the group without needing to buy new hardware.
For whatever reason, it’s taken AMD about two years to get to this point. While this was a promised feature in the Catalyst 12.4 drivers as seen above and shown off using Deus Ex Human Revolution as an example, it never came with any of the subsequent updates. Perhaps there were issues at the time with the display driver, which still had to be made to function on Windows XP at that point as well.
With AMD’s signing off on any further improvements to XP, that leaves the driver teams with more time to focus on updates for more modern operating systems and this is something that I was personally looking forward to, even if I probably won’t be setting up my own Eyefinity group for a good long while.