8-way video card

It's gadgets like this Matrox 8-way video card -- which lets you drive eight 2560 x 1600 displays at once -- that make me think seriously about going back to a desktop machine and abandoning laptops. If only I could find 1) room for eight displays and 2) a graceful way of using the home partition on my laptop as my desktop's home partition as well, without sacrificing speed (NFS), or having to reboot each time I sit down.

The Matrox M9188 PCIe x16 multi-display Octal graphics card addresses the need to visualize large amounts of data at once in order to effectively make decisions. The latest offering from the M-Series family is the world's first single-slot PCIe x16 octal card, featuring the ability to support both DisplayPort and DVI Single-Link outputs to ensure wide compatibility with today's monitors. With 2 GB of memory and advanced desktop management features, such as independent or stretched desktop modes, the M9188 drives energy, transportation, process control, financial trading, and other mission-critical environments with extraordinary performance.
Matrox M9188 PCIe x16 (via Red Ferret)


  1. Hi Cory,

    Re: storage: [ insert whimsical parody of ‘how “cloud computing” will solve this problem for you and everyone, real soon now’ evangelism ]


    Actually, someone *could* make a pitch for Dropbox at this point, but I am not convinced that third-party replication is the way to go – not least because if they go down, who *knows* what happens to your data.

    In your circumstance I would be looking at NFS tuning over a gigabit interface adapter, because recent NFS is *not* slow… though it is hampered somewhat in the Linux world by, um, “creative” interpretation of the protocol spec.

    Laptops aren’t generally designed for fast disk i/o in the first place, so YMMV.

    Re: displays, the best setup for me is still dual-head, but with one ‘portrait’ and one ‘landscape'; I saw a bunch of these at the London Googleplex after dual-heading my old G5 iMac, tried it, and it’s fantastic.

  2. Hell, just that 27″ iMac is getting me all confused about sticking with laptops. I think one of these, with eight 30-inchers, would seal the deal.

    1. Except that the iMac doesn’t have any slots for this card… unless you meant geting eight iMacs, and just using their displayports to drive them as monitors. When you weren’t using the wall of screen, you could do some serious SETI@home, I suppose.

      Much as I covet one, choosing an iMac isn’t much different from “sticking with laptops”, except that it has a 3.5in. drive.

  3. See, the solution here is to wire the card into your home, so you have a port in every important room, leave your desktop in a utility room or something, and carry an LCD, wireless keyboard and mouse around, and just use the card for one screen. Simple!

    Or; Eght small displays, combining to make one big one.

    Two completely practical and not at all silly ideas. I’m a genius, me.

  4. The radiotelescope I work on *has* eight 2560 x 1600 displays. This board would be rather useful, eliminating a computer from the system.

  5. I’ve used matrox cards at work in the past, and it’s my experience that work’s the only thing you want to do with them. They drive a large number monitors, and at a good resolution, but they aren’t very powerful in other ways. This is definitely not a card you would want to game on.

  6. While ATi and NVidia have been cranking out the pixel pipelines for the past decade, Matrox has been silently beavering away making very expensive video cards for well, video and nothing else. I remember looking at buying one of their cards for rendering HD video and it was about $4000 used… I understand they do a lot of medical imaging as well?

  7. Well, I GUESS 8-off-one-card is impressive.

    However, ATI’s current gaming cards can do 6-off-one-card. Yes, gaming spread across all of them:


    …and, indeed, if you add additional ATI cards to your system in Crossfire, it will soon be able to add more displays! I believe that their new ‘eyefinity’ technology will shortly be able to span up to 24 displays (just waiting on a driver update to enable that, AFAIK), using the 3d acceleration capabilities of all the cards connected.

  8. In terms of synchronization, i find Windows Live Mesh to be an excellent resource. It synchronizes and updates files as changes are made to their server and back out to other machines that share the same folder. It’s magical for keeping unified files for school between my desktop and netbook. Couldn’t do without it!

  9. Write speed is usually the bottleneck. I use dd to get a ball park measure of write speed.

    dd if=/dev/zero of=foo bs=4k count=100000

    On most linux this’ll report a performance metric in bytes/sec.

    My best speeds to NFS over gig-e network from a consumer grade lappy to a consumer desktop as show speeds around 60Mbyte/sec. Direct Sata ext3 I see about 90Mbyte/sec on either the lappy or the server. Reading I get about 2x better performance.

    This is fast enough that I’ve never noticed any performance issues. I use Ubuntu am-utils (amd) and a symbolic link from /home to the /net mapping of the server’s export.


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