Here’s something new for Intel’s pricey Ivy Bridge connection standard. Motherboard maker Gigabyte’s been showing off a 4K monitor array using one of its new twin Thunderbolt motherboards and the HD 4000 graphics that you’d find on any third-generation i5 or i7 processor.
To pull this off, Gigabyte blended a few technologies. Each Thunderbolt chip is able to output 2K worth of graphics which can be split over two standard 1080p monitors using a DisplayPort to Dual-DisplayPort adaptor that gives you a single 1920 x 1200 monitor running off a single Thunderbolt port. Do that twice and arrange the displays using Intel’s Collage and you end up with a single 3840 x 2400 display.
Obviously all of the adapters and cables don’t come cheap, but neither do a lot of video cards. Both the GA-Z77X-UP5 TH and GA-Z77X-UP4 TH motherboards have twin Thunderbolt ports.
Not all 4K arrays are equal and it’s worth pointing out that the setup is by no means suitable for anything that you consider graphically intensive. You can watch video or edit one hell of a spreadsheet, but that’s about it. What this does, though, is provide proof of concept for something that will get a lot more interesting as on-board graphics technology evolves. It also shows that the days of needing pricey graphics cards to power twin monitor setups are done and dusted.
Supposedly, USB 3.0 is getting a speed boost that should allow it to do much the same thing over cheaper cables. But it can’t do it now, which means Thunderbolt still has something up its sleeve.