Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Retina display - also to the desktop. Please!

iPhone 4 has spoiled us (though I still have the 3GS version).

One part of Apple's launch advertising was saying how the retina display has pixels so small you cannot see them by naked eye.

NOW, that only made me realize I don't get that on desktop. Thanks a lot. :( I'm now acutely aware of how fuzzy the on-screen fonts are even on a state of the art monitor (typing this on a 27" Cinema Display that's anyways way too big for my needs).

I might return this monitor - don't envy just yet...

What I really would like is a 24-25 inch non-cinema (not 16:9 ratio) monitor that shows PDFs, program code and any stuff with "retina quality" crispness.

There is none, it seems. Advice on the web seems to point at viewing from a longer distance. But I'm used to being rather close to the display. Why, oh why. Apple please make a "retina display" experience. Make it soon. :)


Seems Apple may be doing exactly this.

"The developer build of Lion released this week came with fresh HiDPI mode references,
suggesting that Apple may expect 200ppi+ laptop and desktop displays to become available during Lion’s lifetime."

Now, a 4:1 resolution enhancement of Cinema display would make it 5120 x 2880 resolution. I think that's way beyond what DisplayPort can handle. My guess is these new displays (if/when they arrive) will use the just released Thunderbolt connection directly.

Addendum 2

I continued wondering how the Thunderbolt technology can affect display markets, and how a 5000x2000 pixel display could be implemented. Here's one way.

Thunderbolt is essentially PCI Express, and such could be used as the bus interface between the CPU and the GPU. The *display* could have the GPU.

This makes tremendous sense since with rising pixel count the data bandwidth between the CPU and the GPU will likely (I haven't calculated specifics) be way smaller than the bandwidth of pushing pixels to the screen. Make the display smart, essentially make it a display adapter card (with a display). And voilá - no PPI limitations to the forecoming future!

Things s.a. font blitting will then happen in the display. And the solution will be compatible with everything - not just OS X - since the concept of a PCI Express display adapter is OS independent. So... when can I get one? :)


Anonymous said...

Although I agree a Retina Display desktop would be absolutely amazing, I'm sorry to break it to you, but the technology just isn't there yet.
Let's do some simple math. With the iPhone 4, Apple quadrupled the resolution of the screen, but kept it the same size, raising it to 300dpi, effectively making the pixels un-seeable to the naked eye. Now let's assume they did the same thing to your 27" Cinema Display. That would give you a monitor with a 5120x2880 resolution. A screen that large is impractical in two ways. First, you would have to make your mouse outrageously fast (and sacrifice accuracy) just to spare yourself the frustration of taking ten seconds just to move the mouse across the desktop. Secondly, processors just aren't fast enough yet. A massive amount of computing power would be required to push that many pixels, leaving little (if any) left for the operating system to work with.
I certainly wish that technology was advanced enough to cope with a "Retina Display" like you speak of, but unfortunately, we're not there yet.

akauppi said...

Thanks for the comment.

I see this more positively. The limiting thing might be the display technology itself (the cost of such), not the CPU or GPU power.

And the solution I offer in the Addendum of the blog post still makes sense to me. Have the GPU in the display. Pass on the fonts and the pictures to the display, let it do the rasterizing. ( I'm expecting you to know quite a lot of the internals of computers here - otherwise the whole blog post makes little sense. )

For pictures and videos the current DPI's are already enough. It's in the presentation of smallish fonts that the eye still sees the fuzzy antialiased edges (and which slows down reading, compared to i.e. paper).