Radeon Technologies Group Demoes HDR Technology at CES 2016 – Part of the Better Pixels Initiative

Usman Pirzada
Posted Jan 8, 2016
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AMD has been making a lot of headway in developing graphics technologies, diversifying its strategies away from just a processor manufacturer. Part of that initiative, which can loosely be referred to as the “better pixels” initiative, is its new foray into HDR technology. HDR simply put, means High Dynamic Range, or the co-existence of bright highlights and shadows without loss of detail. We didn’t actually think modern LED monitors are in any dire need of said HDR tech, but AMD clearly thinks there is.

AMD HDR Tech CES 2016A slide showing the differences between SDR and HDR monitors. @AMD Public Domain

AMD RTG demoes HDR technology at CES 2016

Before LCDs and LEDs, people went by with CRTs. Those monitors had almost perfect HDR capabilities and reproduced a more or less accurate color gamut. With the advent of LCDs, the initial offerings were severely lacking in terms of color reproduction. The blacks were greyish, and the colors were not vibrant at all. Ghosting was also an issue considering the response time was very low. Monitor technology has come a long way since that time. A good LED monitor in today’s time is almost on the same level as a CRT of old. Yet, the technology is still evolving.

OLEDs are a good example of the pros and cons of existing display tech. While they can produce a good color gamut and have decent HDR capabilities, they suffer from burn-in, same as Plasma Tvs do. This is one of the reasons, they are very rarely chosen as the choice for computer monitors, where parts of the screen stay frozen for long periods of time. What AMD wants to do, is something even further. It wants to extend the HDR capabilities of existing technologies by driving the tone map through their hardware. This involves not only developing a hardware standard for monitors but also incorporating the technology into Radeon graphic cards. Apart from that, there isn’t much information that we have available.

As you can see on-screen, there is a very clear difference between the SDR and HDR examples shown by the AMD engineer. Ofcourse, you will not be able to see all the differences considering you probably aren’t using an HDR setup to view this video. However, since the video being recorded by the camera is already processed, you should be able to get the basic idea. It is also worth pointing out that the type of panel and color vibrance makes a lot of difference in these tests and we don’t know what the exact specifications of these monitors were. As fa as we can see however, it looks like AMD is once again, working on a solid piece of technology, which considering the company’s past trend will probably be open source.

Its worth pointing out that this HDR demo is just one faucet of the bigger picture. AMD is working on multiple aspects on improving the pixels you see – not just driving more pixels (and ideology of quality as well as quantity). This involves improving everything from the color gamut to the dynamic range of the monitors resulting in a more vibrant – truer to life – picture. More information about AMD RTG’s Better Pixels initiative can be found here.

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