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Nvidia's cascaded display technology quadruples screen resolution without costing a fortune

Tom Morgan
30 Jul 2014
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Nvidia is working on a way to significantly increase display resolution without having to pay a fortune for high-res panels

Nvidia has announced a new prototype display technology that aims to improve the visual clarity of low resolution smartphone and tablet screens, bringing them up to par with Full HD panels but costing significantly less to manufacture. By stacking two cheap LCD panels on top of each other, Cascaded Display panels could provide major increases in resolution for budget handhelds, or boost high-end devices to 4K and beyond.

According to a report published to Nvidia's official research blog, the company took two off-the-shelf 7in, 1,280x800 resolution panels, disassembled them and rebuilt them into a single display with slightly offset pixels. In doing so, the spatial resolution of the original panels was effectively quadrupled. A polarization filter was needed to block out any conflicts between the two panels, and some custom-built software was used to get the two panels to work in tandem, but essentially the prototype dramatically improved the perceived resolution for less than the cost of one high-resolution panel.

Nvidia is reportedly designing the display technology for use in head-mounted displays like the Oculus Rift or Sony's Project Morpheus, where high resolutions are crucial to tricking the brain into thinking it isn't looking at a screen but is actually experiencing the virtual reality being shown. Oculus has already updated its development kit prototype once with a higher resolution display, clearly indicating the need for greater resolutions when working with VR.

The new technology isn't perfect, however; stacking multiple display panels on top of one another has a detrimental effect on screen brightness, and viewing angles are reportedly compromised by the process. The final image isn't quote as sharp as it would look on a full resolution panel, either. This is less of an issue in head-mounted displays, though, so if Nvidia sees the prototype through to production it might not be long until we have Oculus Rift competitors with 4K displays in each eye.

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