HP Dreams of a Better Display

Hewlett-Packard and DreamWorks tout a new display technology, DreamColor, for content creators.

Hewlett-Packard is giving the display market a splash of color.

At the National Association of Broadcasters conference in Las Vegas, HP, along with DreamWorks Animation, will detail a new technology called DreamColor, which will enable content creators and other enterprise users to distinguish up to a billion different colors within an LED-backlit LCD display.

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Although HP and DreamWorks will offer some details about the technology April 14, the technology will not begin to appear in HP displays until later in 2008. HP is also not offering details on which specific displays will carry the technology when it hits the market.

In an interview before the show, John Thompson, vice president of HP's workstation division, said the technology is a combination of software that the company developed with special graphics drivers, semiconductor arrangements and new technology built into the firmware of these displays.

While other displays offer a choice of about 16 million different shades of color, the DreamColor technology offers 30-bit color that brings the total number of possibilities to a billion.

"This technology, by using a close combination of hardware and software design with firmware capabilities, allows you to be very exact when it comes to your selection of color," Thompson said. "So it completely opens up the artist's imagination and it opens up the technology in displaying the artist imagination."

He continued, "There is the display itself, which has bit planes. So, in other technologies where you have red, green and blue, you might have three bits behind each color. In this case [with the HP technology], you have 10 bits behind each color."

For those working in animation and other types of content creation, this technology will allow them to render drawings and other content more quickly and to choose from a much fuller array of colors.

Thompson said HP also has plans to offer this technology for other enterprises that need these types of display capabilities, such as oil and gas companies, mechanical design firms, and the automobile industry.

Although HP plans to show off the new display technology in its own portfolio of workstations, Thompson said the company designed DreamColor to work on any PC, including Apple computers.

HP is also updating its line of workstations with new microprocessor technology. With its xw8600 workstation, which originally debuted in November, HP will add support Intel's quad-core Xeon X5482 processor, which offers clock speed of 3.2GHz, 12MB of Level 2 cache and a 1600MHz front side bus.

In addition, HP will debut a new workstation, the xw9400, which will use Advanced Micro Devices' quad-core Opteron processor, previously code-named Barcelona. After a number of delays, AMD began shipping the chip on April 9. HP will support several AMD models from the 2300 series of Opterons, which have clock speeds that range from 1.9GHz to 2.3GHz.