The release of the iPad 3rd Gen was most noticible due to its retina display. While we had seen the retina concept with the iPhone 4, never before has this level of pixel density been available (at least on a consumer device). And let me tell you – it is absolutely stunning. Reading text is like reading a book, pictures are stunningly crisp, and games designed for this screen are just pure gold. Also as a side note, my regular monitor looks like crap by comparison (and I run a high quality NEC).
The inevitability is that this tech will reach computer monitors, and I think that’s going to happen far sooner than most people are saying. This is a once you go retina, you don’t go back scenario – its that pleasing to look at.
So what does it mean for you?
Right now your average 24 inch monitor runs 1920×1080 pixels, which is in the neighborhood of 130 ppi. You can play most games at high settings with around a GTX 560 1GB (or equivalent). A retina 24 inch by comparison would be twice this resolution. 3840×2160 around 260 ppi. The essence of this is that you are essentially supporting graphical production for two monitors in one. Right now in order to run ultra settings on that type of screen you would probably need to SLI two 580s – an expensive proposition (as a side note, video memory and memory bandwidth will be critical at these resolutions. A 1 GB card on PCIe 2.0 would choke).
It is inevitable that retina monitors will make their way to consumers. When they do, game development will step up to meet the new visual possibilities, and in order to play those games we will need the best of the best hardware.
Fortunately we are now stepping into the next level of PCIe technology with double the memory bandwidth capability. If you are building a system right now, I would strongly urge you to at least build a platform that allows for you to upgrade to a PCIe 3.0 video card (ie. build at least Z68 gen 3 – or Z77 with Ivy Bridge).
This article demonstrates not quite that level of resolution and also suggests that this technology is far off. But I’m looking at a consumer level device of not insignificant size (the iPad) which says otherwise. Apple has a way of pushing the boundaries of reality, and I think they will surprise most people with full sized retina displays in the next 1-2 years.
Prepare for a ride – PC gaming as we know it is going to be shook up, and those of us who build will be in the best position to have our cake and eat it too
The perils and promise of high-resolution displays
Sharp has announced that it’s building next-generation LCDs using IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) technology. This new approach first made headlines just before Apple launched the iPad 3, when it was rumored that Sharp would provide panels for the high-resolution tablet, but manufacturing difficulty reportedly led to Apple opting for a conventional S-IPS LCD panel instead.