Moore's Law? Not for computer displays

While the performance of PC chips doubles every 18 months in accordance with Moore's Law, the quality of computer displays has been increasing by only about eight percent per year, Claude Leglise, vice president of Intel Corp.'s Intel Capital division, said Tuesday at a conference for the computer display industry.

The result? You can pick up a photo-quality inkjet printer for US$299, and film for your camera that's of such fine quality that the human eye probably wouldn't notice any improvement. But you still can't reach that level of resolution on a computer display.

Intel is among the vendors hoping to change all that, many of whom showed off their latest technologies at the Society for Information Display conference, which kicked off here Tuesday. The show is billed as North America's largest show for the display industry.

"Electronics displays are stuck at around 2 megapixels," Leglise told engineers and industry executives who gathered here. "There is a major opportunity in creating technologies and businesses in this area, where we can offer better resolution, better pictures and still have so much more room to grow."

The chip giant has made substantial investments to boost the development of computer displays, and demonstrated a display here that is likely one of the highest quality in existence.

The display measures 22 inches across the diagonal, has a 9.2-megapixel display and can divide its screen to run 16 DVDs (digital versatile discs) simultaneously in 720 by 480 pixel mode. There's one drawback for end users: it takes 16 of Intel Corp.'s Pentium 4 processors to run it, and would cost around $200,000 to buy.

The display was built by IBM Corp., but the technology running it is the result of a 4 year collaboration between Intel Research Labs and California's Stanford University. Along with the 16 processors, the display uses 2G-bytes of RAM and a connection that runs at 1G-byte per second.

While the display isn't likely to hit store shelves any time soon, Intel has set two goals for the near term:

"In two years, we want to see a 27-inch monitor able to display two pages side by side for $2,000," Leglise said. "And in five years, we want to see a 10 megapixel display for $2,000."

The Society for Information Display conference began Tuesday and ends Friday. More information can be found on the Web at http://www.sid.org/conf/sid2001/sid2001.html.

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