Taiwan-based display manufacturer AU Optronics showed off a new 3456 × 3456 LCD panel for VR this week.
The panel is an LCD display, but supports HDR using 2304 individually monitored items with LED backlighting, rather than one global backlight. This is called “local dimming” and is used on high-end LCD TVs for HDR. It does not provide the same HDR quality as OLED (which can control brightness per pixel), but with so many LEDs it can come close in this task.
HDR displays with a given HDR content can display a wider range of brightness and colors per frame. This should make the light and colors in VR closer to the real world. It is worth noting that Valve also experimented with HDR panels back in 2015, and Jeremy Celan from the company noted that the return to the SDR panels “disappointed” him.
These are 2.9-inch panels, so they will be used in the headset, one for each eye. This means that virtual reality glasses with these panels will be able to support mechanical adjustment of IPD.
With a staggering 3456 × 3456 resolution, two of these panels in the headset would be almost 24 million pixels. This is about three times the pixels of a 4K monitor.
HP recommends GTX 1080 at least for reverb, so no GPU on the market today, with the possible exception of Titan RTX, can control these panels.
In fact, no GPU on the market today can even display as many pixels at 90 Hz. Neither DisplayPort 1.4 nor HDMI 2.0 b has enough bandwidth, even when compressing a stream with data. Thus, not only foveated rendering is required, but also its output to the display, in which different parts of the image can be sent over the cable with different resolutions, and the display controller on the headset can position each part in the correct position.
It is important to note that display manufacturers often display displays, even ready for production, that never enter the market. For those who do this on the market, it may take a year or even two years to achieve mass production.
Samsung showed 2K OLED panels for VR back in June 2017, and they did not enter the market. Displays on the HP Reverb were shown about a year ago.
But if these panels enter the market, driven by rendering foveated, they will provide a VR visual experience beyond anything that has ever been seen outside of R & D labs.
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