One Intel CPU Per Screen (Well Almost)

Andrew Neale

YCD Multimedia’s software has a deserved reputation as being spot on when it comes to video walls – their MuVi Wall product has a good reputation and seems to sell particularly well. Here’s a new video just released of the really cool YCD Multimedia Digital Signage Solution deployed recently at Cinema City in Israel.

Both YCD and C-nario have good video wall capabilites (C-nario also have lots of solid examples and have recently won lots of airport video wall installations) and you’d often tend to think of both of them first if you were looking at a large display wall.

The YCD Multimedia solution deployed here is likely to use a number of powerful PC’s, all most probably with multi-headed graphics cards meaning that one PC could drive 4 (or more) screens.

The problem with that approach is two-fold, even with Minicom’s hardware putting all the computers safely in a back room, you have to run an awful lot of VGA / DVI cable to all the monitors, but more importantly you also have to co-ordinate all of those rendering computers – at least you have to co-ordinate them if you want to think of the whole cinema as one ‘canvas’.

Think on this: you either have 300 individual HD screens (some playing the same content, some running content across screens and from one screen to another) or you think of the whole as a canvas containing **590 million pixels!

Controlling subsets of 12 to 18 million pixels individually doesn’t really reflect the shape of what they’re actually controlling. It requires a change in mind set as to how a solution such as this is implemented and how content for it is designed and built.

For the menu boards and strips of screens at Cinema City, LCD panels can work well but there are more compelling solutions for the large displays, whether that is high resolution indoor LED, ultra narrow bezel panels, or tiled display systems like Christie’s MicroTiles or Prsym’s LPD.

From Intel’s point of view as well (they feature prominently in the case study video) we think that rather than fewer high spec media player PCs with multiple outputs to drive panels, a more distributed solution using a smaller player unit driving each screen would fit their vision better AND of course would mean one Intel processor per screen!

One such system that comes to mind is Hiperwall, which uses concepts from the IT and cluster (distributed) computing world. It uses a standard ethernet network and CAT5 cabling to distribute the content and video across the canvas area. It can handle jaw dropping content resolutions, and scale it in real time over the screen area. Because there is one smaller player device per screen, the cabling for video distribution is much simplified, with the backbone being commodity CAT5 rather than at video level (ie DVI or VGA).

We have personally seen Hiperwall installations; one example was 12 x 46″ monitors with a relatively small PC (dual core Atom with NVIDIA ION graphics chipset) running each screen.

There are, of course, many methods of approaching a project like this, but overall it shows that a well thought out and integrated use of content and screen technology in a large scheme makes for a high impact and truly impressive customer experience!

**300 HD screens is 300x1920x1024 pixels = 590 million pixels

One Response to “One Intel CPU Per Screen (Well Almost)”

  1. Dmitry Says:

    Very fitting with Intel’s overall strategy of “trying to get inside everything” as covered in Bloomberg Business week:

    If Hiperwall indeed added scheduling to their software (which previously they lacked) it truly will be a very neat piece of software.

    Dmitry Sokolov

Leave a Reply