By Robin C. Colclough, FRSA
Managing/Technical director, ViewPoint 3D Ltd.
This summer the computer world suddenly changed, yet few people seem to have realized it.
As always, technological advancements are good for the consumer, but often costly for companies slow to adjust. Today, that change comes in the form of what might be considered "the Holy Grail of computing," a low-cost single chip computer with true desktop power, what AMD calls the Advanced Processor Unit or APU for short.
High power computing breakthrough
The AMD A8, R8 and A10 APUs integrate a powerful 64-bit processor with four cores operating at up to 4 GHz, and, for the first time, a discrete 3D graphics chip with nearly 400 core processors capable of driving 4K pixel screens with full-3D graphics capability — all this in a small chip that packs around 1.3 billion transistors and consumes just 65 to 100W.
Jargon aside, AMD has delivered a major price/performance breakthrough in a product that is ideal for everything from laptops and pads to digital signage. Tested with our own ViewPoint-3D software, it outperforms more costly processors with HD graphics, even when equipped with mid-range GPUs.
The industry is rapidly heading towards desktop computers that fit in the palm of the hand, run on low power, and have exceptional lifetimes. Equipped with the newer solid-state hard drives, some of which now boast a 1 million hour MTBF, or 114 years, the hardware now exists to equip all digital signage screens with exceptional 3D-graphics.
For instance, these new APUs allow our software to enable screens to run live-data 3D-graphics at studio quality, with dynamic lighting, reflective surfaces and sophisticated animations.
Our software is a single application built from the ground up in efficient C++ code that leverages the new APU/GPU technology to produce high-resolution 3D content in real-time, content that can display the current time and date, data from RSS feeds and databases, and video streams, and to display fully interactive content, basically, "live 3D." This approach does away with costly content updates, as the content itself can now auto update.
APU, a proven technology, from advertising to data display
ViewPoint-3D software running on embedded APU systems is used to run hundreds of screens at major airports 24/7, providing critical information to passengers and staff, plus advertising and automated public address.
The new hardware enables software that allows a designer to drag and drop 3D objects, creating complex scenes in minutes, add animated 3D models, even complex product models with photo-realistic detail, with real world simulations, skies, oceans, reflective lakes, walking and talking human characters, and more, to create stunning adverts that include content, such as messages and prices, in full 3D, that update every minute, automatically.
Also, with APU/GPU technology, software like ViewPoint-3D is able to convert its video output on the fly to drive the latest 3D glasses-free screens, either in 2D+Depth or multiview autostereoscopic formats. This should mitigate the need to create 3D content using complex software, which then has to be painstakingly post-processed to arrive at a 3D formatted output stored in a fixed file, that can´t even show today´s date. Instead, content can be created directly and displayed directly.
Live 3D-graphics is the next step for digital signage, whether used on standard 2D screens, or the new 3D projection screens, and today all the technology needed has arrived.
ViewPoint 3D is a London-based provider of instant-photorealistic 3D software for a range of applications, including business presentations, 3D and 2D digital signage, industry, science, education and 3D movie creation.
Read more about 3D digital signage.