The reports of the death of the VGA connector are greatly exaggerated. Rumors of the demise of the VGA connector has been going around for a decade now, but VGA has been remarkably resiliant in the face of its impending doom; this post was written on a nine-month old laptop connected to an external monitor through the very familiar thick cable with two blue ends. VGA is a port that can still be found on the back of millions of TVs and monitors that will be shipped this year.
This year is, however, the year that VGA finally dies. After 30 years, after being depreciated by several technologies, and after it became easy to put a VGA output on everything from an eight-pin microcontroller to a Raspberry Pi, VGA has died. It’s not supported by the latest Intel chips, and it’s hard to find a motherboard with the very familiar VGA connector.
Continue reading “VGA In Memoriam”
One of the challenges with display technology is the huge increase in bandwidth that has occurred since LCD panels took over from Cathode Ray Tubes. Low end laptops have a million pixels, UHD (“4K”) displays
have 8 million and the latest Full Ultra HD (“8k”) displays have over 33 million pixels. Updating all those pixels takes a lot of bandwidth – to update a 4k display at 60 Hz refresh rates takes close to a gigabyte per second. 8 billion bits – that is a lot of bits! That’s why VGA ports and even DVI ports are starting to vanish in favor of standards like HDMI and DisplayPort.
The current release of HDMI is 2.0, and is tightly licensed with NDAs and licensing fees. VESA, who created the DisplayPort standard, states the standard is royalty-free to implement, but since January 2010, all new DisplayPort related standards issued by VESA are no longer available to non-members.
So after receiving a new Digilent Nexys Video FPGA development board, Hackaday regular [Hamster] purchased a UHD monitor, scoured the internet for an old DisplayPort 1.1 standard, and started hacking.
A couple of months and 10,000 lines of VHDL code later what may be the first working Open Source DisplayPort
implementation is available. The design includes a 16-bit scrambler, an 8b/10b encoder, and multichannel support.
Continue reading “DisplayPort with an FPGA”
Those fancy 2048×1536 pixel resolution displays found in the iPad 3 and 4 can be used for much more than high def Candy Crush and Netflix viewing. [Freddie] over in Southampton, UK built his own adapter to connect these high-resolution LCD panels to anything with a DisplayPort connection. It’s called OSCAR, and it’s the open source way to add a whole lot of pixels in a second (or third, or fourth….) monitor.
The LCD panels found in the iPad 3 and 4 don’t use the usual LVDS connection found in just about every other LCD panel ever made. It uses an extension of the DisplayPort protocol, meaning any graphics card with one of these ports already does the heavy lifting for this panel. The only other thing that’s needed is an adapter to control the power and backlight, which is easily handled by an ATMega32U4. This makes OSCAR Arduino compatible, making it easy to add sensors and USB playthings.
OSCAR is available on Kickstarter for £65 (~$100 USD) for the board itself. Adding to that, you’ll need to grab an iPad retina display through the usual channels for about $65. Not exactly cheap, but try finding another better-than-1080p display for that price.
You don’t have to search very long before you find someone raving about the Retina display used in Apple iPads. We’re not going to disagree. These 9.7″ panels pack in a whopping 2048×1536 resolution and the color is fantastic. But we were surprised to hear you can get one of these for a meager $55. That’s how [Andrzej] sourced the part when he set out to connect a Retina display to a regular PC.
It turns out this isn’t all that hard. The display uses the eDisplayPort protocol. This is an extension of DisplayPort which is an alternative to LVDS that is gaining a foothold in the industry. An external DisplayPort adapter can already be found on higher-end laptops, which means this should be a snap to use as an external display if the signals can be routed correctly.
To do this, [Andrzej] figured out how to order the PCB connector for the panel’s ribbon cable. He then etched and populated his own board which serves as an adapter for a DisplayPort cable. It even powers the panel, but an external 20V supply is necessary for the backlight.
With most of us utilizing at least two monitors these days in our day to day operations, six monitors, while an awesome thought, might seem a little too excessive. After all, do we really have space for multiple video cards?
AMD has a new setup in their testing lab that is running six Dell 30inch displays at 7680×3200 through a video card holding six DisplayPort connectors.
Maximum PC has the scoop on the setup, and they say that this single GPU will be coming out on AMD’s DirectX 11 capable chips. Details are slim with the amount of video RAM, speeds and cost not known at present.
Think of the possibilities! Trade shows are one thing, but how about a video wall at home for gaming and movies? How would you use the six monitors shown above? Be sure to leave your ideas in the comments.