What is AMD Eyefinity technology?
AMD Eyefinity technology is a solution developed by AMD that allows consumers to run up to six simultaneous displays off of a single graphics card. This is a unique feature of AMD graphics products that cannot be found on any other consumer graphics solution at this time.
More importantly for consumers, AMD Eyefinity technology is not a feature we reserve for our most expensive products. Indeed, AMD Eyefinity technology is available on more than 45 consumer and professional-grade products. These products cover a very large spectrum of prices, giving you the flexibility to find the solution that you need.
How does AMD Eyefinity technology work?
On the hardware level, each graphics chip we manufacture is equipped with the ability to support a certain maximum number of displays. The graphics chip is then connected to display outputs (like DVI or DisplayPort), which allow you to physically connect displays. The number and type of display outputs will vary based upon the product and its display output configuration.
On the software side, the AMD Catalyst™ driver suite is the one-stop shop for configuring the way your connected displays actually behave. From configuring the orientation to combining their resolutions (more on that later), AMD Catalyst™ makes it easy to get multiple displays up and running.
What are display outputs?
Display outputs are the ports on the back of your graphics card, which can accept a connection with a monitor. The following pictures illustrate the outputs you might find on an AMD graphics product:
Digital Visual Interface (DVI)
Mini DisplayPort (mDP)
High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI)
Video Graphics Array (VGA)
What products support AMD Eyefinity technology?
AMD Eyefinity technology support was introduced in 2009, and that support has expanded to dozens of products across the AMD Radeon™ Graphics and AMD FirePro™ Professional Graphics lines.
To learn more about the AMD Eyefinity technology capabilities of the products in these families, please visit their respective product pages. Each product page details the available display connectors and the maximum number of displays supported on AMD’s reference design.
What is a reference design?
When AMD designs a new family of AMD Radeon™ graphics products, we define a certain set of parts, materials and specifications that add up to a standard, or reference, design. This reference design makes it easy for the partner companies that actually sell our products—such as Sapphire, XFX or ASUS—to manufacture them.
When you buy an AMD Radeon™ graphics product that follows the reference design from one of these companies, you can be sure its specifications match what we describe in our product pages.
An AMD Radeon™ HD 6850 GPU using the official reference design from AMD.
However, partner companies don’t necessarily have to follow the reference design for a given product. These companies can often manufacture custom designs that offer different display output configurations, new cooling or tuned performance.
As an example, the Sapphire HD 6870 FleX uses a unique chip and an included adapter to easily connect a third DVI display to the card’s HDMI port. This pre-packaged “simplifies” AMD Eyefinity technology by providing everything a user needs right out of the box.
The SAPPHIRE FleX HD 6870, a non-reference design, is built for AMD Eyefinity technology: new cooling and an included adapter allow this product to support three DVI monitors out of the box.
Innovative designs like the Sapphire HD 6870 FleX demonstrate not only the creativity of our partners, but the flexibility we’ve built into AMD Eyefinity technology. In other words, non-reference designs can make it even easier to find and configure an AMD Eyefinity technology solution that meets your needs.
When it comes to AMD FirePro™ professional graphics products, however, you should know that third-party manufacturers do not produce solutions on AMD’s behalf. All AMD FirePro™ professional graphics products adhere to the reference designs detailed on our site.
Is AMD Eyefinity technology available on notebooks?
Yes! AMD Eyefinity technology support is also built into many of our notebook GPUs, but it is up to the manufacturer of the notebook to equip their product with the necessary display outputs.
Notebooks that offer the outputs to activate AMD Eyefinity technology include the Alienware M17x and the HP ENVY 17. Please note that the default configurations for these notebooks may not include AMD Radeon™ graphics, so be sure to verify that you have selected an AMD solution before checkout.
What are the basic requirements for connecting multiple displays?
Connecting multiple monitors for AMD Eyefinity technology couldn’t be simpler. There are four easy rules to remember:
- The first two monitors can connect to the graphics card with any display output on your product: HDMI, VGA, DVI or DisplayPort.
- The third (or greater) display must be connected to the graphics card via DisplayPort.
- If your monitor does not have a DisplayPort connection, you will need an inexpensive active DisplayPort adapter for it. DVI to DP adapters can be had for less than $30 USD.2
- Every family of GPUs supports a different maximum number of displays.
Remember that these are the most basic requirements. Creative designs like the Sapphire FleX HD 6870 or the Asus EAH6970 DCII make it even easier to configure AMD Eyefinity technology by reducing, or even eliminating some of these requirements for AMD Radeon™ graphics products. In that respect, always make sure to carefully explore these non-reference solutions and their product specifications when configuring a system with AMD Eyefinity technology.
The Asus EAH6970 DirectCU II is also built for AMD Eyefinity technology: two DVI and four DisplayPort outputs support up to six displays right out of the box. Monitor cables not included.
What is the maximum number of monitors I can connect?
As we mentioned in the last question, every family of GPUs supports a different maximum number of displays. This support is inherent to the AMD graphics chip at the heart of your graphics card.
Before looking through the table, though, keep in mind that the maximum number of supported displays can differ from the number of display outputs on the card. Certain adapters, hubs, or a non-reference graphics card may be required to take full advantage of the capabilities we build into our chips.
AMD Radeon™ graphics solutions
Up to 6 displays
AMD Radeon™ HD 7900 Series
AMD Radeon™ HD 6900 Series
AMD Radeon™ HD 6900M Series
AMD Radeon™ HD 6800 Series
AMD Radeon™ HD 6800M Series
AMD Radeon™ HD 6700M Series
AMD Radeon™ HD 6600M Series
AMD Radeon™ HD 6500M Series
ATI Radeon™ HD 5800 Series
Up to 5 displays
AMD Radeon™ HD 6700 Series
ATI Radeon™ HD 5700 Series
Up to 4 displays
AMD Radeon™ HD 6600 Series
AMD Radeon™ HD 6500 Series
AMD Radeon™ HD 6400M Series
AMD Radeon™ HD 6300M Series
Up to 3 displays
AMD Radeon™ HD 6400 Series
ATI Radeon™ HD 5600 Series
ATI Radeon™ HD 5500 Series
ATI Radeon™ HD 5400 Series
AMD FirePro™ Professional Graphics
Up to 6 displays
ATI FirePro™ V9800
Up to 4 displays
ATI FirePro™ V8800
AMD FirePro™ V7900
ATI FirePro™ 2460 Multi-View
Up to 3 displays
ATI FirePro™ V7800
AMD FirePro™ V5900
ATI FirePro™ V5800
ATI FirePro™ V4800
Why do none of the displays have to be connected to HDMI, VGA or DVI?
With the introduction of AMD Eyefinity technology in 2009, we also introduced the first implementation of DisplayPort for consumer graphics. DisplayPort connections not only allow a single graphics card to inexpensively support a large number of monitors simultaneously, but support them in a compact area—perfect for a GPU!
For many technological reasons (PDF), DisplayPort is also a superior alternative to the same old connections (HDMI, VGA, DVI) that we’ve been using for a long time. For example, DisplayPort can deliver stereoscopic 3D content—like 3D games or Blu-ray—but at a much higher resolution and frame rate than either DVI or HDMI can provide. As another example, AMD products that feature DisplayPort 1.2 outputs can actually run several displays from just one port. This feature requires specialized display hubs (available 2012), but DVI and HDMI can’t do that!
For all of these reasons and more, the designs from AMD and our partners have begun to include a number of DisplayPort connections.
DisplayPort doesn’t seem all that common. Isn’t there a better solution?
Offering and supporting a relatively new display output standard is not without its growing pains. Like DVI and HDMI when they were new, it will take time for the ecosystem of DisplayPort-compatible products to mature.
In the meantime, AMD has worked very closely with its partners to introduce inexpensive active adapters that will let you connect DVI displays with resolutions up to 1920x1200 to a DisplayPort output.
As DVI is the primary connector type for today’s LCD monitors, these adapters will help bridge the gap for users looking to migrate to the superior DisplayPort standard without breaking the bank on new monitors. And for users looking to add a few additional monitors to enable AMD Eyefinity technology, the adapters permit any DVI monitor to do the job.
What if the DVI monitor I want to connect to DisplayPort uses a resolution higher than 1920x1200?
An active dual-link DVI to DisplayPort adapter is required.
How can you connect multiple monitors to a DisplayPort connector?
As previously indicated, AMD graphics solutions equipped with DisplayPort 1.2 outputs can actually run multiple monitors from a single port.
This feature is called Multi-Stream Transport, or MST, and it allows a single cable from the graphics card to carry the signal for multiple monitors. Taking advantage of this feature requires one of two things:
- A DisplayPort 1.2 MST-capable hub, which connects to the graphics card’s DisplayPort output on one end, and provides multiple monitor connections on the other.
- Or DisplayPort 1.2 MST-capable monitors, which allow a user to daisy chain monitors together, with the final monitor connecting to the graphics card.
Using DisplayPort 1.2 MST, a user can connect up to six displays to a single port on many AMD Radeon™ graphics and AMD FirePro™ professional graphics products. For more information on DisplayPort 1.2, and multi-stream transport, please consider reading our DisplayPort whitepaper (PDF).
Do I really need DisplayPort 1.2-compatible components to run six displays?
Not at all. Products like the Asus EAH6950 DCII or ATI FirePro™ V9800 support up to 6 displays without any need for DisplayPort 1.2-compatible hubs or monitors. These manufacturers have designed unique solutions with additional DisplayPort outputs, which obviate the need for such equipment.
The ATI FirePro™ V9800 GPU has six mini-DisplayPort outputs, supporting up to six simultaneous displays.
I’ve heard all of the monitors need to be the same resolution for AMD Eyefinity technology to work. Is that true?
It’s partially true. AMD Eyefinity technology is a brand name that actually describes three distinct functions:
1. Hardware support for three or more monitors attached to a single graphics card.
2. Software support to independently configure and run each of those displays.
3. And software support to combine the resolutions of all of those displays into one big resolution.
At a basic level, many users like AMD Eyefinity technology for the first reason: connecting more than two displays is no longer a challenge as it has been in the past. And whether you run Linux, Microsoft® Windows® or Mac OS®, each operating system works seamlessly with AMD’s hardware/software to connect and configure multiple displays.
Assuming for a moment that you never perform any additional configuration once the monitors are connected, these displays are running in what’s called “extended mode.” Monitors do not have to be the same size or resolution in this mode, and you should feel free to rearrange your games and applications across the extended displays as you see fit.
The primary drawback to extended displays is that a game or video cannot readily be maximized to take advantage of all the displays at the same time, which is where AMD Eyefinity technology’s SLS mode steps in.
Single Large Surface (SLS) mode is activated when you create an AMD Eyefinity technology display group in the AMD Catalyst™ Control Center. SLS mode combines the resolutions of all the connected displays, and then essentially “tricks” the operating system into believing that there is one display with that large combined resolution.
DMC Devil May Cry™ in AMD Eyefinity technology 5x1 portrait mode. Spanning
the game to all five monitors would not be possible without SLS.
While SLS mode does not require all monitors to be of the same resolution, SLS mode will force each monitor to match the smallest resolution on any of the displays you’re combining. For example, a 1680x1050 monitor paired with two 1920x1200 monitors will force the 1920x1200 monitors to 1680x1050 before they’re combined for a final SLS resolution of 5040x1050. For this reason, we do strongly encourage all monitors to have, at the very least, the same resolution. Provided you meet this technical requirement, we think you’ll find the effect of SLS to be absolutely breathtaking.
Seeing is believing, though, and this interactive demo shows just how much you’re missing in the games we’ve validated if you’re playing on just one monitor. Even many of the games we haven’t validated also look great with AMD Eyefinity technology!
The same demo also shows how users can be more productive in a professional environment with an AMD Eyefinity technology on an AMD FirePro™ professional graphics solution.
But AMD Eyefinity technology isn’t just about games. The prestigious market research firm, IDC, has shown (PDF) that workers are more productive when equipped with a multi-display solution like AMD Eyefinity technology. Even with SLS mode enabled, each display can be treated like an independent monitor with the AMD HydraVision™ software.
So, whether you choose SLS or extended displays, the versatility of AMD Eyefinity technology virtually ensures that there will be a solution to help you work smarter and game harder.
Do all monitors need to be the same brand for SLS mode?
The monitors don’t have to be from the same manufacturer, but it is strongly recommended so as to avoid any unnecessary complications or a less-than-optimal experience. Ensuring that all connected displays are of the same make and model also provides access to an AMD Eyefinity technology feature called bezel compensation.
What is bezel compensation?
In traditional multi-monitor setups, any piece of an object moving from one monitor to the next is simply chopped off and moved, regardless of how small that piece may be. For example, a small piece of a character’s armor might reach the edge of one display, resulting in the armor appearing to “jump” crudely to the next display.
Notice how the edge of this character’s shield in Dragon Age II does not transition to another monitor as a player would expect. Bezel compensation corrects for this jarring visual anomaly.
This chopping may also cause objects to become misaligned as they pass between displays. That piece of armor on the next display may be positioned higher or lower than the player would expect it to be, and that effect can compromise the immersion of the game.
Bezel compensation remedies these issues by treating the plastic frame of your displays as an object that games and applications merely pass behind. The effect is subtle, but impressive: objects are no longer interrupted by the bezel, and remain aligned when passing from one display to the next.
For a visual example of this technology, consider this 10-minute primer video by Widescreen Gaming Forum.
What display configurations support SLS mode?
There are many ways to configure your monitors for SLS mode in AMD Eyefinity technology, but the three below are the most common. Other supported modes include 2x2 landscape, 3x1 portrait, and 5x1 landscape. Please note that 5x1 Landscape and Portrait modes will not be available until the release of AMD Catalyst™ 11.10 in October, 2011.
I’ve heard I need adapters to run AMD Eyefinity technology. Is that true?
Adapters may be necessary, but it strongly depends on the AMD Eyefinity technology configuration you’re looking to run. It also depends on the display output configuration of the graphics card you are considering, as well as the monitors you’re attempting to connect.
Please visit the AMD Eyefinity technology Configuration Tool for a guided walkthrough of all the components you’ll need to enable this technology on AMD Radeon™ graphics products. AMD FirePro™ professional graphics customers should use this tool.
I don’t have room on my desk for three or more monitors. What can I do?
Many people have never noticed, but the rear face of many monitors offer four threaded holes to receive bolts. These aren’t random: they’re VESA MIS-D 100 or VESA MIS-D 75 mounting holes. These two technical standards are what allow people to buy off-the-shelf wall mounts and stands that quickly and easily fit any TV or monitor.
To that point, XFX makes a fantastic triple monitor stand built specifically with AMD Eyefinity technology in mind. Supporting three displays up to 24”, it has adjustable arms, a USB hub, cable management, and audio ports. The great thing about this stand is that the part that sits on your desk isn’t a whole lot bigger than a single monitor, which makes it perfect for folks with limited desk space.
Can I run AMD Eyefinity technology with AMD CrossFireX™ technology?
Any AMD Eyefinity technology configuration that works with a single graphics card will work with AMD CrossFireX™ technology, however all monitors must connect to the primary graphics card. In most systems, this will be the GPU installed closest to the CPU. This is true for both AMD Radeon™ graphics and AMD FirePro™ professional graphics products.
Can an HDTV be one of the displays in an AMD Eyefinity technology setup?
Absolutely. In fact, connecting an HDTV to an AMD graphics product is really no different than connecting a monitor.
AMD recommends that you connect the HDTV via HDMI, but if you already have two displays connected to DVI/VGA/HDMI, then the TV can be connected to DisplayPort as well. If your TV doesn’t natively offer a DisplayPort connector, then an active HDMI to DisplayPort adapter will get you up and running.
It is further recommended that your HDTV be run in extended mode for the best experience.
Why are there only three available resolutions when I’m in SLS mode?
AMD Eyefinity technology currently provides access to three main resolutions for compatibility reasons.
The highest resolution that may be activated is restricted by the highest resolution on any individual monitor. The lowest resolution is a “safe mode,” based on 800x600, that can be activated if something is amiss. The middle resolution is automatically chosen by the driver to fall somewhere between the highest and lowest, and it’s made available to individuals who want to enlarge their desktop for visibility reasons.
Custom resolutions are not supported at this time, but may be in a future AMD Catalyst™ driver release.