IBM preps high-end flat-panel

IBM is likely to release the first commercial high-end flat-panel monitors based on its Roentgen technology by the end of the year, according to a company official. The monitors, which IBM is categorizing as quad SXGA (super extended graphics array), will start at "not less than $10,000 (around £6,000)," according to Paul Greier, a senior programmer in IBM's display systems group. However, he is willing to concede that by the time the monitors ship in quantity, the price will be reduced somewhat. Roentgen active matrix LCDs (liquid crystal displays) are named after the founder of X-ray technology, Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen. IBM is targeting the Roentgen monitors at design professionals, since the displays will be able to show much more detail - and therefore much more information - quicker and more clearly. "In design work, where there is a lot of panning and zooming or hiding windows, it (the monitor) gives you the ability to put a vast amount of information on the screen all at once," Greier said. A current prototype of the Roentgen monitor offers a resolution of 200 ppi (pixels per inch), with a total of 5.2 million full-color pixels, laid out in a 2,560-x-2,048 grid. The prototype is 21-inches high and 16.5-inches wide. The display itself is 2.5-inches deep, although the base measurement is 9.5 inches. Once the production version of the monitor is released, Greier said it will be able to display two full-sized 8.5-inches by 11-inches documents side by side. Getting the prototype technology to work hasn't been easy, but according to Greier, the biggest challenge the IBM team faced was finding peripherals which could adequately support the powerful displays. "When we built it, the graphics cards became a problem. In our prototype, we are using four graphics cards, and the display has been electronically built with four stripes (each running off one graphics card)," Greier said. "In the production version, we will use a single graphics card. Matrox already has a four-head graphics card, designed to run multiple displays. We will use it for a single display." In addition, the IBM development team is still trying to improve upon the viewing angle of the monitor. The current prototype only has a narrow viewing angle -- meaning that the display has to be viewed straight on -- but Greier explained that the production model will feature a wide viewing angle, thanks to improvements in in-plane switching technology. The Roentgen prototype is being built in the same factory that produces displays for IBM ThinkPad notebooks, Greier said.

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