Transferring graphics stuff from the PC to the monitor

Sometime the innovation comes from a re-organization, not from a new technology. Why a monitor wouldn´t have a graphics card inside it rather than in the PC ?
One takes a monitor and removes its board; from the computer one takes the graphics card and puts its stuff on the monitor board as shown below.


Then, one has something which could be called a graphics board and one places it in the monitor in a removable way as a graphics card. Thus one can upgrade the monitor or save the graphics board if the screen takes a hit.


This is the general idea which certainly has a lot of technical involvements. The first implication is the choice of the link between the monitor and the computer : USB, Firewire or Ethernet ?


USB is widely known and supported, Firewire is as well supported but on mid or higher-end PC. Nonetheless, both have a bandwidth limitation over the distance. Ethernet is better on this point and even a low-end PC has a T-100 Ethernet port, moreover that opens some network capacities. This choice involves a micro-controller or a low power CPU to support the TCP/IP stack. So, in the end, the graphics board has some similarities with a thin-client.
Does one need to add something on the PC side ? Personally I don´t know, though, that could be handle by a driver : either a new graphic driver, either an additional driver which makes the bridge. Frankly, my concern is rather about the BIOS since it should be able to catch the monitor through Ethernet. One has the same problem with USB keyboard and mouse on workstation, they´re not detected at boot, hence one cannot access to the BIOS setup. I have seen some console which leads to the BIOS after the boot, but it´s not a real solution. This is the downside of this new organisation and there are maybe some others, though, what are the benefits ?

Concerning the cost, it would be a little bit higher than the cost of a graphic card, but that´s not sure. One doesn´t make a big saving upon the connectors but the Bill Of Material is simplified since one would just need some Ethernet connectors and gears, and then one benefits from the economy of scale. That´s true for the graphics board maker as well as for the motherboard maker. Moreover the latter better has to build two RJ45 on-board, one for the network and one for the monitor; otherwise that would imply a switch which is not a good argument of selling for an OEM. So in the end, the overall cost could be reduced.
In fact this organization brings some new opportunities. Since the graphics board is removable, this allows the offer of a standard monitor case on the market, thus giving more room for the OEMs. Chipset and graphics card makers can invest the monitor market or use it to enlarge their offers. Motherboard makers get more flexibility in their design, for low-end PC this transfer is the more profitable and for mid or higher-end one can arbitrate upon the number of PCI slot.


Some opportunities are also given to ISPs and content carriers since the monitor relies on Ethernet. Hence, either the DSL box get more gears to drive the monitor, either the latter becomes a terminal, though it could be a mix as well. And since one can get the TV through the net, it´s also an opportunities for TV maker.

There are also some technical benefits. On the PC side the overall heat is obviously reduced and the graphics gears get a better cooling since there are in a separate case. Thus, in some case, one could avoid the use of a fan and then the overall noise could be reduced. As well one saves a little bit in power consumption. PC could be more compact, especially low-end computer which could gain in graphics power. It´s true as well for virtual or emulated machine which can not exploit plainly the host machine´s hardware. The main benefit indeed is that computers and graphics gears could be more independent.


Une Réponse to “Transferring graphics stuff from the PC to the monitor”

  1. James Richard Tyrer Says:

    Re: BIOS

    Normally on a modern MotherBoard the Video BIOS is coppied into RAM. So, if this was a standard way of doing this, the System BIOS could simply look for a monitor based video card on the ethernet connection and if it found one it would copy the Video BIOS over the ethernet connection.

    If the MotherBoard’s System BIOS didn’t have this capability, you would have to have an ethernet card with additional firmware for the card’s microcontroller to accomplish this at boot — so when the System BIOS tried to read at the Video BIOS address, it would get the Video BIOS over the ethernet. The System BIOS would never know the difference.


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