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Multi Monitor "Spanning" on Radeon 9600XT for gaming.

Posted on 2004-08-16
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Last Modified: 2010-04-25
It seems that once again ATI has created a 'better' product than nVidia and the rest. Although, this time it looks like it's to its user's detriment.

I have a Radeon 9600XT outputting to two monitors.

I want to be able to play certain games by spanning the games across the two screens. The specific game I have in mind is "X2: The Threat".

Now, here's the thing. To be able to play that game on multiple monitors, as with most games nowadays, you set your desktop to ‘span’ two monitors. Thus windows treats it as a single display while the video card outputs to two monitors at a virtual resolution of 2048,768 (2x 1024 monitors side by side). Some games, such as X2, support these ‘wide’ resolutions and present their GUI appropriately to that.

Unfortunately, by following the standards set out be Microsoft, ATI does not support this function, and outputs independent data to the monitors separately.

I'm looking for a way to get around this. Maybe some software that will allow me to set a dual screen (wide) resolution, and then would 'cut' the output in half and send each monitor the relevant data, or maybe, a similar hardware solution that spans video output across several monitors.

For a more detailed description of the problem have a look here:

http://www.egosoft.com/x2/forum/viewtopic.php?t=16866&highlight=radeon+spanning+monitor

Please read that before you post any solutions.

-Esulin.

P.S. I was only being sarcastic with the 'better product' thing. I'm not particularly fussed about whether people think nVidia or ATI are better, so don't bother starting on that one.
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Question by:Esulin
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Assisted Solution

by:Callandor
Callandor earned 125 total points
ID: 11811632
There are products like PowerStrip, which will let you set up custom resolutions, but this is still all on one monitor.  Flight Simulator supports 3 monitors, including Radeons, all with different views, so it may be a matter of the game manufacturer providing the support.
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Author Comment

by:Esulin
ID: 11812125
Indeed, Flight Simulator has specific support for multiple monitors by treating each monitor independently. This is how games that wish to provide that kind of support should be created.

The thing is that X2, like most games, does not support it in such an explicit way, but rather only adapts its existing game engine to allow for this ‘hack’, for the lack of a better word.

Imagine re-coding your whole game to map to two or more independent Direct3D planes, as opposed to just stretching the one that you already have.

Thus yes, the game publisher should provide this kind of support, but they don’t. And since there is a feasible way around this issue, I don’t see why they should. If anything, it’s ATI that should provide support for ‘spanning’.

Thanks for the tip on PowerStrip though. If I can split the output of one monitor onto two, this will allow me set the appropriate resolution for that.

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by:bladefist
bladefist earned 125 total points
ID: 11813220
If you did find a software resolution(answer), i would predict that the speed of the game would DRAMATICALLY slow down.  Many great cards do what you want to do. If yours does not, find one that does. you'll be much happier w/ hardware supported spanning then software.

If your determined to get this to work, you might try 'UltraMon'  you'll find it on google or download.com

No promises. But that software is made for multi-monitor systems
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LVL 18

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by:crissand
crissand earned 250 total points
ID: 11816276
Have you tried Hydravision from Ati? Seems to me that this is what you want. I have a AIW radeon 9600 Pro, maybe I'll give it a try too, but I don't play games very often.
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Author Comment

by:Esulin
ID: 11817783
Well, bladefist, to be honest I just spent almost 200$ on this video card, and other than this one thing I'm very happy with it's performance. So, buying another video card is out of the question.

I've already tried UltraMon and Hydravision. Neither of them offers this functionality.

As for the software resolution, you're most probably right that it could be slow. Theoretically, if it's possible to interface to the cards output at it's final stage, a software like that would have to determine whether a pixel is on the left or right of the split, and redirect it to the appropriate monitor to a new coordinate. That's 1.5 million calculations for each screen refresh (at 2x1024). I think even on my Athlon64 XP3200, that would be quite taxing.

But, maybe there are ways whereby each pixel doesn't have to be calculated. I don't know anything about that kind of low-level hardware programming. That's why I'm asking. :)
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LVL 18

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by:
crissand earned 250 total points
ID: 11820615
If you want to experiment, maybe you should try the Omega drivers, not the original Ati drivers.

http://www.omegadrivers.net/

These are catalyst drivers modified by an enthuziast, which offer more options that the original drivers released by ati, it is said that the options are available in ati's drivers, but hidden.
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Author Comment

by:Esulin
ID: 13524345
Didn't really get an answer that helped in any way... But there's not point wasting the points.

Esulin.

P.S. Sorry bout the late close... I actually forgot this question was still open.
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