Gigabyte boards use Thunderbolt ports to drive 4K display resolutions

4K displays are all over CES this year. The thing is, they're a little on the pricey side. Not all PC graphics solutions can drive Ultra HD resolutions, either. Thanks to new Collage Display technology from Intel, however, Gigabyte can pump 3840x2400 images to a two-by-two grid of 1920x1200 screens using only a motherboard and an Ivy Bridge CPU.

Not just any mobo will do, of course. To drive a virtual 4K grid, Collage Display requires dual Thunderbolt ports, each of which needs to be attached to a dual-DisplayPort adapter. Most Thunderbolt-equipped motherboards feature only one port, but Gigabyte's "TH" models have the dual connectors that Collage Display needs. This tech works with existing boards like the GA-Z77X-UP4 TH and GA-Z77X-UP5 TH. Updates are required for the motherboard firmware, however, and you'll also need new graphics drivers. The Intel drivers are supposed to be available by the end of the month.

If you don't want to configure your screens in a square, Collage Display also supports 1x4 configs. Just don't get your hopes up about gaming on an effective 4K display. Intel's HD Graphics 4000 GPU doesn't have enough horsepower to play modern games well on a single 1920x1200 monitor, let alone across four of 'em. Perhaps Lucid's Virtu software can be coaxed into working with the technology. That said, Collage Display is really designed for commercial applications like digital signage and surveillance.

Using multiple monitors and display outputs to form a single image is nothing new. Consumer-grade GPUs from AMD and Nvidia offer similar functionality, and AMD's Eyefinity is particularly robust. Both it and Nvidia's Surround scheme boast mechanisms that adjust the picture to compensate for the presence of bezels. It's unclear whether Collage Display offers similar functionality, but it should; bezel compensation eliminates the annoying visual inconsistencies that result from display borders not lining up exactly.

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