Gigabyte's testing has shown that Intel's HD4000 graphics technology, combined with a board featuring dual-Thunderbolt ports, can successfully drive a 4K Ultra HD display.
Gigabyte has released details of testing to prove the high-resolution chops of its dual Mini DisplayPort motherboards, hoping that those investing in the next-generation Ultra HD TV standard will be interested in picking up a board to drive their displays.
The testing saw Gigabyte team its GA-Z77MX-D3H TH motherboard, packed with Intel's Thunderbolt high-speed peripheral interconnect technology, with an Eizo FDH3601 4K-resolution monitor - a high-performance, high-resolution display designed for use in medical imaging and air traffic control applications. Using nothing more than an off-the-shelf Intel Core i7-3770K processor and its integrated Intel HD4000 graphics capabilities, the company was able to prove that its board can drive a 4K display.
The trick comes in the dual Thunderbolt ports, which double up as Mini DisplayPort 1.1-compatible graphics outputs. Although each port is only capable of driving displays at 2K resolution, paired together and working in tandem the ports are able to drive a 4K high-resolution display.
For those at the cutting edge of home entertainment, that could spell a very tempting home theatre system. This past year has seen the release of several 4K-resolution TV sets, along with the official release of the Ultra HD standard. Promising four times the pixel density of a similarly-sized High Definition TV, Ultra HD TVs are currently priced well out of the reach of most consumers' pockets - but, as with HDTVs in the past, prices will fall.
Before the technology reaches a critical mass, however, companies are going to have to do something about the lack of 4K-resolution content. With current-generation Blu-ray discs topping out at 1080p, Ultra HD content is hard to come by - and that's a stumbling block when you're trying to convince punters to part with tens of thousands of pounds on a 4K-resolution projector or TV. Sony has recently announced plans to ship an Ultra HD content delivery system with its compatible TVs, but for companies that don't also own major Hollywood studios things aren't so simple.
With the ability to drive an Ultra HD display using on-board graphics, however, Gigabyte's Thunderbolt-equipped motherboards could well prove the answer. With the GA-Z77MX-D3H TH proving its chops in testing, and the GA-Z77X-UP4 TH and GA-Z77X-UP5 TH claimed to offer the same compatibility, the company could have stolen a march on its rivals when it comes to high-resolution displays.
One thing Gigabyte hasn't shared, however, is performance information: driving a high-resolution for simple 2D graphics is one thing, but playing back full-motion video or rendering 3D scenes is quite another.