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Matrox's Extio Reviewed

CowboyNeal posted about 7 years ago | from the serious-kvm-solutions dept.

204

An anonymous reader writes "Looks like Matrox isn't as dead as some of us thought. This box of tricks lets you connect four displays up to a PC that's 250 meters away. All the graphic data is sent down a fiber optic cable to the Matrox box that then connects to the screens. To the end user it feels like they're working directly on the PC, but the PC can be locked away somewhere safe."

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204 comments

Wow (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19846479)

first !

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these (5, Interesting)

slincolne (1111555) | about 7 years ago | (#19846485)

A nice, quiet, mediawall without the bulk of the PC's to get in the way.

These would be so cool for demonstrations and conventions.

I wonder how many of these cards you could fit in a single computer ?

Re:Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these (2, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | about 7 years ago | (#19846511)

These would be so cool for demonstrations and conventions. I wonder how many of these cards you could fit in a single computer ?

... one.

Re:Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these (4, Interesting)

muffen (321442) | about 7 years ago | (#19847059)

We've been using KVM Extenders for years, so when we get into the office we put our laptops in the serverroom, and via the KVM extender we can work in a different room. No noise, and the computers are kept cool all the time.

This was initially done for security reasons, and the first KVM Extenders we had couldn't forward sound or USB, but nowadays it's not a problem at all, and it's all done over cat5 cables.

Re:Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these (1, Insightful)

shokk (187512) | about 7 years ago | (#19847267)

So the laptops that are potentially carrying viruses are put into the room where all your protected systems are? I see...
Not wise, unless you have a separate network for the laptops that is firewalled away from the servers.

Re:Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these (2)

eht (8912) | about 7 years ago | (#19847379)

And it isn't like laptops are that loud, and what about meetings? Do they have a full blown KVM extender setup in all their conference rooms?

Math problem nightmare (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19846487)

Given the matrox [[1,2],[3,4]], compute the matrox's extio.

Re:Math problem nightmare (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19847451)

That would be the 4 element matrox [0,0,0,1234ext10] no?

Uhm... (5, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | about 7 years ago | (#19846493)

Looks like Matrox isn't as dead as some of us thought.

When was Matrox dead ffs? When Seagate bought them, they were one of the top HDD brands (well, for commodity OEM drives, if not known for amazing quality).

The fact that half of Matrox's utilities are producing Seagate brand drives doesn't make them dead, does it.

Re:Uhm... (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | about 7 years ago | (#19846501)

When was Matrox dead ffs?

Yea, laugh at me :(

"He mixed up Maxtor with Matrox. Idiot!"

I deserve it.

Re:Uhm... (2)

mynickwastaken (690966) | about 7 years ago | (#19846523)

No problem man! Shit happens. Some guys are even confusing Porn wit Pr0n.

Re:Uhm... (5, Funny)

niceone (992278) | about 7 years ago | (#19846559)

Yea, laugh at me :( "He mixed up Maxtor with Matrox. Idiot!" I deserve it.

Yeah, mod GP so that more people can laugh at him! Anyway, what's a Men's magazine doing producing fibre-optic monitor extenders?

Re:Uhm... (5, Funny)

Loligo (12021) | about 7 years ago | (#19846731)

>Anyway, what's a Men's magazine doing producing fibre-optic monitor extenders?

Silly me, I was sitting here wondering if he meant the first Maxtor, Reloaded, or Revolution...

  -l

Re:Uhm... (0)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | about 7 years ago | (#19847621)

And where does a (hilariously) bitter young man who's obsessed with pirates find the time to write crappy movies, take slutty pictures, build broken hard drives and keep a graphics card company who doesn't make a 3D card to speak of alive?

Re:Uhm... (0)

NVP_Radical_Dreamer (925080) | about 7 years ago | (#19847469)

Anyway, what's a Men's magazine doing producing fibre-optic monitor extenders?

The mens magazine is called MAXIM the hard drive manufacturer is called MAXTOR, the video card manufacturer is called MATROX

Re:Uhm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19847643)

Awesome. Thanks for the tip!

Re:Uhm... (1)

Eideewt (603267) | about 7 years ago | (#19846655)

You should have just left it alone. I thought it was a pretty good joke until you spoiled it.

Re:Uhm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19846803)

Well, they're anagrams. You could have claimed dyslexia or something.

Re:Uhm... (2, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 7 years ago | (#19847175)

It takes a big man to admit that he made a mistake.

Re:Uhm... (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | about 7 years ago | (#19847649)

And it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man.

Re:Uhm... (1)

bored_engineer (951004) | about 7 years ago | (#19846527)

Is it possible you're confusing Matrox with Maxtor?

Re:Uhm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19846533)

That just proves the point: you're thinking of Maxtor not Matrox.
Maxtor, as you mentioned, made storage solutions and got bought out by Seagate.
Matrox makes video products: video output and capture cards, as well as processing libraries. While they're now corporate oriented, they used to also do consumer level video cards.

Matrox never went away (5, Informative)

_merlin (160982) | about 7 years ago | (#19846499)

Matrox never went away completely - they just left the consumer market. They still sell cipsets for connecting very large numbers of monitors to computers. Dual-head is nothing to them - they do eight- and even sixteen-head chipsets. They don't handle games well, but it you just want lots of displays...

This product doesn't look suited to the consumer market, either. It looks like a solution for airport terminals or something - hide away a PC with one of their multi-head video cards and use this to carry the video to where you want people to see it.

Re:Matrox never went away (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19846545)

They are in the "Industrial Market", machine vision, etc.
I see their ads in Advanced Imaging Magazine all the time.
http://www.advancedimagingpro.com/ [advancedimagingpro.com]

Re:Matrox never went away (1)

spac (125766) | about 7 years ago | (#19847207)

I was a model in one of the recent Matrox ads. (Hint: I was standing on a ladder)

Re:Matrox never went away (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19847355)

Show a picture (link) or it didn't happen.

Re:Matrox never went away (2, Interesting)

value_added (719364) | about 7 years ago | (#19846603)

This product doesn't look suited to the consumer market, either.

Indeed, the article quotes the price to be as reviewed £1,645.00 (Inc VAT). That's a chunk of change, to be sure.

My own solution (to cut a hole through two adjoining rooms) produces similar results, but is far less elegant. I'd be interested in such a device. Or, put another way, it may be that the limited consumer market includes people concerned about noise, clutter and peace of mind (like me), in addition to any number of other subgroups, like those into music recording or production. In my day, that last group included just about everyone under 18 with a part-time job.

Re:Matrox never went away (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19846665)

Not only did they exit the consumer market, it seems they want to pretend it never even happened. They closed their developers relations scheme and removed all their previously available documentation. They stopped releasing Open drivers for anything after the G450: there wern't many cards after that admittedly, but a few diehards apparently did buy a Parhallia. Matrox always had brilliant 2D performance and great picture quality, but that's not enough these days of course. They never really could compete in the consumer 3D range, so they've gone for the high-end imaging markets instead and seem to be doing quite well. Good for them I guess, but still..it would have been nice to have a another option for Open Source users. Don't blame 'em though. There's no money in it.

Re:Matrox never went away (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about 7 years ago | (#19846833)

"Don't blame 'em though. There's no money in it."

True , but removing all documentation however does seem like a case of taking all their toys and going home in a huff. Perhaps not the most mature course of action.

Re:Matrox never went away (3, Insightful)

pipingguy (566974) | about 7 years ago | (#19846877)

They're from Montreal, what did you expect?

Kidding aside, I left Matrox after G450, they knew they couldn't compete in the consumer-priced 3D market (nVidia just spent too much money and ATI went chasing nVidia). It was sad to see them go.

They seem to know their market, it's just not you that's in it.

Re:Matrox never went away (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19846953)

removing all documentation however does seem like a case of taking all their toys and going home in a huff. Perhaps not the most mature course of action.

Without a doubt, and I think that's what chaffs the most. There are a lot of old Matrox cards still floating around out there and Matrox basically decided that they didn't want to support them any more, and no one else should be able to either. Even after all this time, it still strikes me as a rather odd thing to have done: they pretty much went from an Open Source friendly company with a responsive DevRel team to a closed shop overnight.

Of course that's not to say the documentation isn't available from other sources, but it's not legal to redistribute the Matrox owned documentation. Matrox have never commented on it, to the best of my knowledge, but it's still technically illegal.

Mulihead good for schools. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 7 years ago | (#19847189)

With 4-8 display one PC with say 4 gigs of Ram, a 16 Port USB Hub and VMWare. You have 1/4-1/2 of of a computer lab running on one system. I do something simular on my Mac with Parallels and only 2 displays where I have a keyboard and a mouse hooked up via USB and I mount those USB devices into my Virtual System and have it Full Screen on an other system. So it just like having 2 systems side by side.

That's good.... (2, Interesting)

RuBLed (995686) | about 7 years ago | (#19846521)

It is good that the pc be installed somewhere safe, it would provide a more physical protection for the box itself although I'm not sure of the data.. But I find this ironic...

This is where Matrox comes in with the Extio, which offers secure remote access, complete with multi-screen display options. The Extio itself is a small metal box that sits on your desk


Now we got more than $1K of equipment sitting on the desk... (according to the price on the article)

Re:That's good.... (1)

Plasmagrid (322106) | about 7 years ago | (#19846595)

not only nice piece of hardware that sits on the desktop but did i miss something on the secure part.

I see USB ports for me to hook up my USB drives and download company data and sell it off
Hypothetically speaking of course.

From the article (2, Interesting)

TheSciBoy (1050166) | about 7 years ago | (#19846827)

A system administrator could however, limit the devices that can use the USB ports, or simply disable write access, so that no data can be removed from the host. If a company is really paranoid about its staff though (and if it is, you have to wonder why it hired them in the first place), you could simply put the Extio in a locking cage that prevents access to any of the ports. A bit excessive one might say, but if you're data really is that sensitive, perhaps quite prudent.

As per parents parent, this device is more like $2000 but the point is that if the ebove advice is followed, the data is safe. This seems like a worthwhile device for medical companies or other IP-heavy industries where the data is worth millions.

It is also much smaller and neater than buying a lot of computers to do the same job. And with several computers driving a display each or something like that, you'd be hard pressed to make them behave as one desktop.

Re:From the article (2, Interesting)

timmarhy (659436) | about 7 years ago | (#19846923)

how is this better then just using terminals?

Re:From the article (1)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | about 7 years ago | (#19846987)

RTFA. This is fundamentally different from a terminal. The source computer talks to the graphics adapter sitting in a box on your desk. There is no additional layer of abstraction as far as the PC is concerned. Think beyond basic client/server and about stuff like medical imaging or audio engineering.

Re:From the article (3, Interesting)

TheSciBoy (1050166) | about 7 years ago | (#19847069)

Using a terminal, the data would still have to go from the server to the client to be displayed. For an MRI or somesuch device, this would be a huge amount of data, requiring the terminal to be quite powerful in itself (needing hard-drive and everything). Using this system, that is not necessary. I think any sysadmin will tell you that the fewer computers he/she has to admin, the better.

The application for this device is not crystal clear, a lot of the time a terminal would be an equally good (and probably cheaper) choice.

In my opinion, they will have a killer app if they can externalize the PCIE interface this way completely, allowing me to put any graphics card in the box and thereby create a mini-game-system with a maxi-server elsewhere where it can make all the hard-drive and DVD-drive noises it likes.

Then again, isn't it the graphics card that makes the most noise these days? Maybe it's not as killer as I would like to think. :)

Re:From the article (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | about 7 years ago | (#19847411)

I have worked on projects in manufacturing environments that used KVM-over-IP (Avocent Longview hardware mostly). This allowed the PCs that run the machine interfaces to be placed in a proper server room type setup while the touchscreens were located at workstations on the factory floor. We used to stuff them into electrical cabinets and hope no code inspectors showed up.

Huge drawbacks of doing that with copper include the hardware not getting anywhere close to its advertised working distance with a real world cabling install. I have seen units advertised to work at 1000'degrade to worthless at 500'. I'd guess fiber would be a better fit. There are also limits to display resolution that, with monitors getting bigger all the time, will soon be unacceptable. 1280x1024 is about the best I've seen.

As required by Slashdot Code, I didn't RTFA so the following may not be possible or it may already work: I'd like to think at some point Matrox's transmitters could go through a fiber switch so that several of them could send KVM over the same piece of fiber and drop to multiple displays. Do that and I know of an aluminum plant in northern Michigan that is interested in replacing 300 Avocent Longviews.

Re:That's good.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19846729)

True, but £1,645 is more like $3,300. A lot more than $1k.

Re:That's good.... (1)

RuBLed (995686) | about 7 years ago | (#19846763)

I forgot to run my unit tests...

Re:That's good.... (1)

iminplaya (723125) | about 7 years ago | (#19847421)

Ahhh, so you're the one [slashdot.org]

Re:That's good.... (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | about 7 years ago | (#19846893)

The retail price of the equipment is sometimes far less than the value of the data in the computer or the function it serves.

Re:That's good.... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#19846913)

Erh... the average gamer has at the very least $1k of equipment sitting on (or under) his desk...

Interesting idea but nonstandard (1)

hcdejong (561314) | about 7 years ago | (#19846551)

I was hoping to read about a new standard monitor connection that replaces DVI (and HDMI) with fiber.
Instead Matrox has opted to move the graphics processor out of the computer, and use a (no doubt proprietary-format) optical link between the two.

Re:Interesting idea but nonstandard (2, Informative)

paimin (656338) | about 7 years ago | (#19846613)

I was hoping to read about a new standard monitor connection that replaces DVI (and HDMI) with fiber.
That already exists [practical-...-guide.com] .

Re:Interesting idea but nonstandard (1)

jcr (53032) | about 7 years ago | (#19847689)

It's probably just PCI-express over fiber. Why would they invent something they could just buy off the shelf?

-jcr

I totally need this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19846591)

The noise is a bitch and my desk is in the bedroom :( . I risk high speed pillow hit into the back of my head from my wife every so often.

OTOH, price is prohibitive... that kind of money could buy me a notebook, and then I could make myself much more comfortable ... in the bed.

OTTH, with some serious spendings I could use this thing, hang big screen above the bed and use wireless keyboard and mouse ... in he bed, without risking notebook slipping over the edge, falling on the floor and damaging its HDD, when I fall asleep.

Re:I totally need this! (0, Offtopic)

Plasmagrid (322106) | about 7 years ago | (#19846601)

Know what ya mean,
My wife has now exiled my equipment in our room
and I so like the sound of the HDD whirring as I download bits all night long

Re:I totally need this! (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#19846935)

Instead of forking over 1200 quid for the card, take 300 of those to get a good card and use the other 900 (or less) to make the computer silent. It is possible to create a computer that doesn't generate much (audible) noise. You gotta take the right components (like, avoid those CPU fans that resemble starting jets), and you might have to make a few compromises, but it's quite possible. And it needn't mean you're taking a slower machine.

Just make sure you connect that power led. I forgot it, and that's a serious problem with my crate. I don't hear whether it's on or off...

Re:I totally need this! (1)

value_added (719364) | about 7 years ago | (#19847475)

Instead of forking over 1200 quid for the card, take 300 of those to get a good card and use the other 900 (or less) to make the computer silent.

Been there and done that.

I've replaced the heatsinks and fans on every system I've ever owned. I've built and made use of, with varying degrees of success, soundproof enclosures. I own a number of VIA fanless systems (some with 2.5" drives) and two Soekris boxes -- they all make noise. Betcha ya didn't know that monitors (CRT or LCD) make noise? If I could get back all the money and time (often compromising on performance) I spent pursuing the uphill-both-ways effort of making things less annoying, I could have easily afforded the Matrox box and gone back to rackmounting everything in a sane manner.

I live in an area where the loudest noise is the sound of birds chirping. The office I work is such that with the window closed, the noise output of a single laptop is acceptable, but a distraction. And that's only because I moved (to an enclosed closet) the hissing, buzzing, and whining collection of peripherals (which, by their very nature, typically have no moving parts and are therefore supposed to completely silent), and then moved everything else either to a room on the other side of an adjoining wall or the garage.

Silent, of course, is a relative term. If you work or live in an area where there's a fair amount of ambient noise, then maybe you won't notice, or care. A pebble in a shoe can be overlooked, but enough pebbles over a long enough walk and you will notice. The shitty thing is that for most of us who make a living using computers, it's always a long walk, and one that you'll repeat day-in day-out until you retire. In that light, 1200 quid doesn't seem a bad investment.

Didn't I see this in... (4, Informative)

jimmydevice (699057) | about 7 years ago | (#19846617)

I thought IBM did this back in 1970 with twinax. I know I did this with coax for a good 500 feet in 1998 (it was a demo at a airport). Why is this news and why would you need to do this now? Is display hardware, wireless or local fiber networking that expensive that you need to buy a 10 year old solution to solve your ill planned design?

You did see this in ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19846997)

If I wanted to sequester my computer in a safe place, I would use a dumb terminal.

For multiple monitors, I would check out the following link.
http://wiki.linuxquestions.org/wiki/Using_multiple _monitors_with_XFree86 [linuxquestions.org]

It doesn't seem like a very exciting story to most of us.

Re:Didn't I see this in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19847191)

I used to work in a bank where all the traders desks had the computer a floor below (in a sealed computer room) with just the keyboard, mouse and 4 screens (each) on the traders desk - this removed clutter from the traders desks, and meant that help desk could 'fix' PC's without needing access to the trading floor - however I really suspect it was about removing the trader's ability to attach USB devices (meeting various compliance/audit requirements)...

Re:Didn't I see this in... (2, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 7 years ago | (#19847743)

I thought IBM did this back in 1970 with twinax.

What was the resolution on that twinax? Did it do 1920x1200 times 4 (source: product info page [matrox.com] )? Have the equivalent of 6 USB 2.0 ports? Support digital sound transport? Work on commodity hardware?

Remote displays have been around for quite a while, but this is the modern incarnation of it. I'm not going to turn town a terabyte SATA drive just because I used a DEC with hard drives in the 70s.

Why is this news

Because most of us (myself included) didn't know that such a thing existed until we read this story.

and why would you need to do this now?

For the same reason IBM did it in 1970: so you can use a computer without sitting right next to it.

Re:Didn't I see this in... (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 7 years ago | (#19847787)

It doesn't matter what was done in the past. Seriously. I think we need to get over who did it before.

Ill planned design? Sometimes it takes a less common solution to solve a problem. I don't know what the problem would be, but then, I am not well versed in problems that need unusual solutions. I think airports are one use though, if you think about it. I've seen video displays for departures and arrivals at airports out in the open, away from walls, and you can't really fit a computer there without looking stupid. I don't see how wireless networking would solve the problem. Fiber networking is very expensive. I'd really have to see the relative costs, but the Extio seems relatively inexpensive.

Optical Elegance (2, Insightful)

TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) | about 7 years ago | (#19846637)

How elegant it seems to me, sending visual information in packets of light. It reminds me of seeds of some beautiful flower which instantly sprout when planted.

I wonder, if one were to send a one minute stream of uncompressed video data, would more photons be required for the transmission over the fiber, or in the final display to the user/viewer?

Re:Optical Elegance (1)

jimmydevice (699057) | about 7 years ago | (#19846663)

I would guess the number of photons would be several+ orders or magnitude below the displayed video. Given the compression and the speed and photon economy of the signal. But I may be wrong.

Re:Optical Elegance (2, Informative)

Jbcarpen (883850) | about 7 years ago | (#19846739)

You're right, but for the wrong reason.

I wonder, if one were to send a one minute stream of uncompressed video data, would more photons be required for the transmission over the fiber, or in the final display to the user/viewer?
Given that, I would have to say that while the difference is still going to be several orders of magnitude, it won't be for the reason you stated. Rather, it will be because fiber is VERY focused and as such can get away with much lower levels of light, a display on the other hand, needs to spray photons in every direction. 1/r^2 light dissipation gets huge really quickly.

Re:Optical Elegance (1)

Stooshie (993666) | about 7 years ago | (#19846905)

I'm struggling to see the difference between the two answers!?!

... photon economy of the signal ...

... fiber is VERY focused and as such can get away with much lower levels of light ...

Re:Optical Elegance (1)

dabadab (126782) | about 7 years ago | (#19847083)

It's the "Given the compression" part that it's all about.

Re:Optical Elegance (1)

claygate (531826) | about 7 years ago | (#19847473)

I will add another question, this tangent made me curious. We have B - the light in the fibre optic cable and C - the light needed to display, what about A - the light needed to create the digital stream on the CCD to begin with? So far we have B less than C. Can I assume A less than B?

Re:Optical Elegance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19847081)

How elegant it seems to me, sending visual information in packets of light. It reminds me of seeds of some beautiful flower which instantly sprout when planted.
Indwed, it is. A lpt like this electric shocks I receive, from the ap]aratus remote controllled pver the wired comms ... just miraculous!

Almost good (1)

Caesar Tjalbo (1010523) | about 7 years ago | (#19846647)

One of these, but a lot cheaper and with a DVD writer built in. No more quieting the pc or modding the case, just hide it in a closet.

Re:Almost good (1)

kenh (9056) | about 7 years ago | (#19847545)

Why not put a USB DVD burner on one of the many USB ports?

Neat, but the price ? (0)

Eivind (15695) | about 7 years ago | (#19846667)

The thing is reasonably neat. But come on, the price is ridicolous. £1299 ? That is like $2000 or something. It'd literally be cheaper to buy 2 complete laptops, ignore their internal screens, and use each of them to drive 2 external screens. $200 ? Ok. $2000 ? Completely silly.

Re:Neat, but the price ? (1)

JeremyBanks (1036532) | about 7 years ago | (#19846843)

You're not the target market.

Re:Neat, but the price ? (1)

TheSciBoy (1050166) | about 7 years ago | (#19846879)

Well:

  • I expect there is some expensive hardware in there to extend PCIE over optic fibre.
  • I don't expect they'll sell too many of them, meaning that the price has to be high to make up for development cost.
  • Depending on who they're aiming for with the device, price can actually be important. A corporate customer might not want to buy a "too cheap" system. I know, it's rediculous, but we're talking about people who think that the best car is the most expensive car they can afford, they're not rational.

Let's hope there are more versions coming. I for one don't want to have 4 screens, but 3 (or 2) might be enough. Firewire would be nice, then I could put my computer in the closet and replace it with this little box. But as you say, $2000 is a bit much, but I'm prepared to pay about as much as I would for an excellent graphics card + cabling, so $300 maybe?

Re:Neat, but the price ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19847419)

You can already get that at the price you ask for: just buy two dual-head graphics cards, or three single-head cards.

From the article (3, Informative)

lewko (195646) | about 7 years ago | (#19846691)

Recording studios for example could use high powered PCs without having to put up with the constant drone of cooling fans - an Extio installation would give you all the power of a high-end workstation, while the noisy hardware whirs away in a soundproof room in another part of the building.

As opposed to say putting the artists in a soundproof room, and the recording and PC gear in a control room.

Re:From the article (1)

fruey (563914) | about 7 years ago | (#19846777)

In the control booth where you're already more or less soundproofed from the artists, it's still nice to have no loud machines, because you have monitor speakers in there too, and it might help in having a better environment for optimal level setting & pre-eq / noise cancellation.

Re:From the article (1)

ja (14684) | about 7 years ago | (#19846797)

As opposed to say putting the artists in a soundproof room, and the recording and PC gear in a control room.

Having the artist and microphones away from any noise source is of course a prerequisite. But if you believe that sound engineers can do their jobs properly in the control room while constantly being disturbed by noisy fans and hard drives, you would be terribly mistaken.

The beige box really needs to go into the closet.

Re:From the article (4, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 7 years ago | (#19846869)

How about we just put Justin Timberlake in a sound proof, airtight room and forget to open it back up?

Re:From the article (1)

ishnaf (893700) | about 7 years ago | (#19846937)

Ha - I read "How about we put Justin Timberlake in a soundproof, airtight room and forget to back him up". Either way sounds like a good idea

Re:From the article (2, Insightful)

Rmorph (692035) | about 7 years ago | (#19847003)

Obviously you've never worked in a music studio.

The listening environment needs to be equally quiet: No point in having high frequency fan noise coming from the corner whan attempting to de-ess (take the top of) high frequency sibilant vocal sounds, or try and place a hihat in a mix when you have the whistle of a pc-fan under your desk. Not to mention if you need to overdub from within the control room (quick fixing). A lot of artists like to sit in front of the speakers: by phase reversing one side of a stereo speaker while sending a mono mix, you get an almost total noise cancelling effect: Freddy Mercury used to sing with PA speakers directed at him this way - Personally I have never quite got the hang of it.

Lastly. a lot of project studio owners are musicians themselves. They need to be able to record from the control room.
Summary: The control room needs to be a noise controlled area also - not DEAD silent, so much as noticeably silent. a 40db powersupply is a buzzkill in a control room.

Re:From the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19847601)

I don't think you quite get it.. The sound tech, producer, etc.. (basically anyone in the control room) would hear the pc noise. When you're mixing someone's track you want the best condition possible to hear every nuance when you are tweaking tracks.

A high end audio workstation generates quite a bit of noise, so this device would help keep the noise level in the control room down.

And as a side note.. the price isn't all that much in comparison to the rest of the gear usually hanging around a console. Microphones alone range anywhere from $50 to $4000.

Other solutions (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19846699)

There are wireless KVM (Keyboard, Video, Mouse) units that allow you to keep your computer at a distance. Just stash all your nosiy computers in one room and have the NOISY KEYBOARD AND CLICKY-CLICKY MOUSE beside a neat little KVM transceiver.

Re:Other solutions (3, Insightful)

kenh (9056) | about 7 years ago | (#19847595)

THe bandwidth of this unit far exceeds anything you could do with wireless - four 1920x1200 digital displays, keyboard, mouse, audio, and USB ports over fiber...

This unit is designed and PERFECT for financial "turrets" where traders have up to four screens on their desk at one time... This solution allows them to get the computer hardware out of the turret, allowing them to pack more traders in a given space.

This isn't for the home market, even the home "enthusiast" market, nor even the insane, "gotta have it" home market - this is for certain users with very specific needs where cost isn't really an object...

As for the price, this unit includes the four port video card, that helps explain some of the cost (for example this [provantage.com] Matrox card is $750 and provides 4 video outputs...

msare (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19846705)

to survive at all achieve any of the who are intersted HHear you. Also, if share. *BSD is

airport displays (1)

hankwang (413283) | about 7 years ago | (#19846741)

It would be nice for airport displays [lagom.nl] . A single server can drive all displays and no restrictions on video cable lengths. Apparently, it currently is one server, one video card per display. But maybe I'm mistaken.

Re:airport displays (1)

giuntag (833437) | about 7 years ago | (#19846855)

Not all airport display systems are created equal, but to use a full fledged PC with a MS os onboard is not the only solution.
For biggish deployments, every monitor usually comes with its own single-motherboard-industrial-pc in the casing, possibly running some sort of embedded linux distro and either running a custom app that receives raw data from the central server, formats it and displays it locally or just running an xserver to drive the display with the application running on said server. Similar setups (citrix/terminal services on wince) are possible in windoze land.
In such cases, there is no restriction on cabling, since transport is standard ethernet, and very little cost saving...

Re:airport displays (1)

hankwang (413283) | about 7 years ago | (#19847095)

Hmm, the screens are Samsung 460p with MagicNet support. Apparently, it's possible to upload images or powerpoint files to these screens. It doesn't make sense why they would display a Windows error message, though.

Re:airport displays (1)

imsabbel (611519) | about 7 years ago | (#19846985)

Seeing that its cheaper to have a small server with a LAN port in the display than using such a device, i am not that sure.

I see a market for a consumer equivalent that... (1)

EreIamJH (180023) | about 7 years ago | (#19846787)

...lets me keep the box somewhere secure (esp. from burglars who now have two of PCs - hi, if your reading this on one of them), and lets me run a single 15m cable combining connectors for monitor, keyboard, dvd and a USB port. Then next time I'm burgled I just lose the peripherals rather than the box and hds.

Wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19846939)

imagine a beowulf cluster of those...

Like the article said... (1)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | about 7 years ago | (#19846951)

...this is kick-ass for sound applications. You can keep a noisy eight core workstation in a separate room together with a huge drive array, and only have the interface inside your studio booth. Excellent!

Another interesting bit is that the actual graphics processor is in the Extio, not in the PC. This way rendering lag is minimized. Weird, yet cool.

An Ideal use for these is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19846955)

In Trading rooms.

Putting the physical PC out of harms way in a controlled environment and running some Fibre to the desks would reduce the cabling nightmare that you get in such places.

Just my 0.02p worth.

Re:An Ideal use for these is... (2, Insightful)

kenh (9056) | about 7 years ago | (#19847613)

Exactly - even though this only displaces a single PC, you can make that PC quite powerful, and even a 1U rackmount server ot blade (with requisite PCIe 1x slot available) could provide a very dense solution. If a blade dies, move the fiber connection to a live blade, and you're back up in minutes.

Marketing department alive and kicking (3, Insightful)

valderievaldera (952266) | about 7 years ago | (#19846981)

Matrox being dead or not dead, whatever some of us thought, at least Matrox's marketing department is able to make excellent use of the powerful /. publicity-tool "post [your product name here] as an anonymous coward".

HD? (1)

Rmorph (692035) | about 7 years ago | (#19847079)

What it wont do: For any "remote desktop" use (music studio, remote console etc), a KVM will be a far better option, as that will have mouse / keyboard and sound options in addition to graphics.

This product won't cut it for anything but a multidisplay, typical of bus terminals and airports, and dont these places already have similar technology already installed?

What it might do: The visual quality should be noticeably better than your average KVM display: the fact that matrox stuff has traditionally been very good with HQ professional static graphics display (not to be confused with 3D rendering which they suck at badly) might mean that if you plugged in some seriously kick arse HD screens to this solution, you might have the mother of all distributed HD-TV networks.

I wouldn't mind having that around the house the next time I want to watch Serenity from the tub.

Re:HD? (1)

kenh (9056) | about 7 years ago | (#19847647)

It carries audio (in and out), USB, and USB keyboard/mouse - did you even look at the review before deciding what it could and could not do?

This unit is a video display extension unit with high bandwidth (4x 1,920 x 1,200 DVI), keyboard extension with audio and USB. It is all carried over fiber, to a breakout card that install in the PC. This unit IS the video card, and the fiber extends the PCIe 1x motherboard connection out to the remote unit, along with PC connections.

Also, I've only seen two display KVMs, this unit carries FOUR.

KVMs are for multiple systems, displayed one at a time - this unit is for one unit with four displays, simultaneously... Big difference.

1979 called... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19847119)

And it say X Windows want its idea back.

Reboot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19847239)

Now what happens in this "secure room" scenario when one of the boxes crashes? You can't just hit reset, unfortunately. Not so good.

Consumer version, please!! (4, Interesting)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about 7 years ago | (#19847307)

Finally, a company makes a product that I've been crying out for since ages ago. Now there just needs to be a consumer version of this video+USB-over-fibler protocol. It should, however work this way: the graphics processing should be done at the machine, and the fiber optics cable should just carry the video signal. If a 20 meter cable and a fiber-to-DVI+USB junction cost, say, $150 (not unrealistic), it could kick off the next mass revolution in home computing, where the computer itself becomes an appliance like a water heater.

Here's what I'm pictuing: People spend tons of money to make their computer quiet and well-cooled. But if the thing lived in the cold basement, they could bolt in cheap gigantic fans and disturb noone. But here's the kicker: The basement computer would be a multi-user system, where all the users of the household (including, for example, the living room display) would be using the same system simultaneously. Their rooms would contain displays and input devices only, wired in by fiber. Even if that happens, they're unlikely to get in each others' way, since by then these things will have at least 16 processor cores for them to share. But it means that if a single user needs to do something processor-intensive, she'll have the power of a pretty serious 16-core machine behind her, while the kids browsing myspace from the same computer (but on a different display) won't even notice.

3D GPUs are also about to go seriously multicore, and resource division on those will be easier than it is with CPUs. So if there are two gamers in the house, they could share a powerful multicore card and get acceptable performance. But if only one of them is playing, he can hog the resources of all the cores, and turn everything up to eleven.

This paradigm of the basement computing appliance could revolutionize the way hardware is made and marketed. Multisocket motherboards for the mass market could easily become common, but I'm picturing also a system of arbitrary daughterboards with extra processing units, which will speed up the system without forcing the owner to scrap things. Sure it will become a giant lego-like mess that sounds like a jet, but that's OK. It's in the basement (and will by then hopefully have sane power management which will turn off absolutely every part of every chip which isn't being used).

My point is that normal households with multiple computers today duplicate a lot of resources which go wasted, since single user has the opportunity to use them all simultaneously. The way to fix that is to pool all the household's processing into a single, big, arbitrarily extensible machine which stays out of people's way. And for that, we need a good long-run digital video over fiber standard. And maybe, with all the excess heat these things will put off, they really could double as the hot water heater!

Re:Consumer version, please!! (1)

amorsen (7485) | about 7 years ago | (#19847507)

But here's the kicker: The basement computer would be a multi-user system, where all the users of the household (including, for example, the living room display) would be using the same system simultaneously. Their rooms would contain displays and input devices only, wired in by fiber.

Yay for the return of the mainframe!

Re:Consumer version, please!! (1)

DoctorDyna (828525) | about 7 years ago | (#19847531)

Probably not mainframe, I think the idea is more... Thin Client.

Re:Consumer version, please!! (1)

Treffster (1037980) | about 7 years ago | (#19847537)

GPU's don't need to go multicore, they are already parallel processors. Thats what "16-pixel-pipelines" means. Its the equivalent of that many cores. The rest of your post is pretty cool though. Reintroducing mainframe/thin-clients for the home. Hardly revolutionary, but here its all rendered and processed centrally rather than on the thin clients.

Misspelling (1)

The Fun Guy (21791) | about 7 years ago | (#19847437)

but the PC can be locked away somewhere safe.

You misspelled that last word. It should be q-u-i-e-t.

Silent PC users rejoice (2, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 7 years ago | (#19847687)

We have a friend who damaged her ear in an accident and simply can't tolerate any level of white noise or background humming. Her and her husband have gone so far as to build onto their house and concentrate all of the noisy appliances into the new section so that the rest of the house can be silent. When they visit our house, we unplug the refrigerator while they're around.

When I tell her husband about this, he will place an order within the hour. They've had a hard time getting a silent PC that's quiet enough (yes, her ear is really that damaged) but still reasonably nice, and I'm certain they'd rather have a high-end, powerful PC that can sit in the "noisy part" of the house and still be absolutely silent at her desk.

Ah, yes Matrox. (1)

br14n420 (1111329) | about 7 years ago | (#19847747)

I swore off Matrox in 1995 after spending $400 on a card, all to find out there was no way to get X running in more than 16 color mode without spending several hundred more dollars on Accelerated-X licenses at the time.
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