Projection Display Wall
Graphics Subsystem Specification

Networking / Display Software / System Hardware /  
Graphics Display
/Video Display / 

This document provides prototype specifications for the graphics subsystem required to drive a multi-projector display wall. This graphics subsystem will be referred to as a Display Wall Controller and will be abbreviated as DWC.


The DWC shall interface to one or more networks via Ethernet.

The DWC should support:

1)      Standard 10/100Mbps networking speeds

2)      Gigabit Ethernet

The DWC shall support up to ten Ethernet interfaces for simultaneous access to ten independent Ethernets. The multiple interfaces can consist of any combination of 10MB/s or 100Mb/s Ethernet links. This multiple network capability can be used to provide: reduced network loading by distributing traffic across multiple separate Ethernet segments; connection to multiple different subnets for access to host systems which are isolated from each other; redundancy for backup in case one network goes down. For this case the DWC must provide network monitoring and automatic fail-over when a fault occurs. The software for fail-over, multiple Ethernet aggregation, and trunking should be provided as a part of the base system.

The DWC shall provide the following network capabilities:

  • Network protocols: TCP/IP, IPX/SPX, NetBEUI, and LANMAN.
  • Network utilities: PING, TELNET.
  • File services: FTP.



The DWC must fully support the Windows 2000 display driver specification. There must a dedicated graphics chip for each output channel of the DWC: to enhance graphics performance and to avoid the possibility of single point of failure with a more integrated graphics controller. The Windows 2000 display driver must be able to drive multiple displays in any regular array with a single cursor for the entire array, a single mouse and keyboard to control the display.

The display driver shall present the array of screens to applications as a single logical display, aggregating the resolutions of the individual screens into a single high-resolution screen. It should be possible to drag application windows from projector to projector and to expand single windows to span projector boundaries, even filling the entire display wall, if desired.

The DWC display driver shall allow the ability to hot swap graphics devices without the need to reboot or power down the system in the event of a graphics device failure. In addition, the DWC must fully support version X11R6 of the X Window System. The X server software must reside and run entirely within the DWC, and be an integral part of the display system package. The X server should support 8 bits per pixel operation in a 16 or 24 bits per pixel environment, allowing legacy X Window System applications to display within a high color environment.

The DWC shall provide local applications as follows:

  • X Server: as mentioned above.
  • Video control: to provide local control over the video display capabilities.
    • Video windows may be opened, closed, resized. Video inputs may be selected. Contrast, hue, brightness and saturation may be adjusted. Individual frames of video may be grabbed and stored in files on the host.
  • RGB Window control: to provide local control over the analog RGB display capabilities.
    • Analog RGB windows may be opened, closed, resized. RGB input channels may be selected. Contrast, hue, brightness, saturation and RGB timing parameters may be adjusted. Individual frames of RGB may be grabbed and stored in files on the host.
  • Window control: to provide local and remote control over the number, placement and size of RGB and Video Windows,

The DWC shall support a save and recall function that allows either RGB or video windows to be recalled with all display parameters restored as saved, including: window size and position, channel selection, and video and RGB source parameters.

The DWC shall support network remote cursor: to allow an operator, sitting at a PC, to control the DWC cursor and keyboard-input using the mouse and keyboard of his own PC.

The DWC shall support a hot swap application that recognizes and facilitates the removal and reinstallation of graphics controllers and RGB input devices while the system continues to operate.


The DWC must contain its own dual Intel Pentium III CPU with a minimum rating of 1 GHz for running the Windows 2000 operating system and an X Window System server.

The DWC shall come with a minimum of 768 MB DRAM.  The DWC must be modular in architecture allowing for field expandability and upgrade ability.

The DWC's system backplane must be the industry standard Compact PCI form factor, providing the ability to hot swap graphics devices and other hot swap capable peripherals.

The DWC shall provide a minimum of 32 direct composite video connections.  The DWC should allow for direct connection of 16 S-Video sources as well.

The DWC shall provide direct RGB connections to feed RGB windows, a minimum of 4 HD15 connections, with a maximum of 32 possible connections allowing 16 RGB sources to be displayed on the wall.

Removal of a hot swap graphics device should be possible without the need to remove cabling to the output devices (projectors), easing the burden of maintenance, and lowering the MTTR.

The system shall have at a minimum dual redundant power supplies that are to be hot swappable. .

The system shall have hot-swap fan assemblies, which can be removed during operation.


The DWC shall provide multiple independent graphics display channels to drive the projectors.

Each display channel will have its own graphics accelerator chip. Connection from the CPU to all the graphics accelerators will be by means of the high-bandwidth system bus. The signals provided to the projectors will conform to RS343 signal levels and will be user-selectable either 5-wire (RGBHV) or DVI (Digital Visual Interface) and use a DVI-I connector.

The graphics outputs will support standard display resolutions from 640x480 up to 1600x1200 and refresh rates up to 85 Hz. Custom display formats must also be supported.

Each graphics display channel shall have 8, 16, or 24 bits per pixel support for 256, 65,535, 16.7 million displayable colors from a palette of 16.7 million colors. The display channels must support a hardware cursor up to 64x64 pixels in size.


The DWC shall provide the ability to display video (i.e. television format) signals in resizable windows. The DWC shall have a minimum of twelve video inputs. Both NTSC and PAL signals shall be handled. Video windows must be smoothly resizable from very small (32x32 pixels) to very large (filling the entire display wall). Video windows may be moved freely about the entire display area without regard to projector boundaries.  Multiple video windows should be able to occupy a single output channel.

Each video window shall have independently controllable hue, brightness, contrast and saturation. The position, display settings, and source of each video window should be easily stored and retrieved via the video display software.

Each video window shall have a "graphics overlay" capability so graphics information can be displayed on top of the video image. The operator must be able to "grab" an individual frame of video from any of the video windows and store it as a disk file on the host system. This grab must occur in less than 0.1 second to minimize interruption of the video display.

The Video window shall be controlled by supplied software or via custom applications developed using a programming interface supplied by the DWC vendor. It should be possible to integrate video into standard Windows 2000 applications using ActiveX containers.

Video windowing must not impact the system bus, and must be independent of the general CPU, peripheral bus, and I/O subsystem. This avoids impinging on overall system performance when video is being displayed on the display wall.


The DWC must be available as a Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) product. Due to the nature of this application the reliability of the product selected is critical, therefore the product selected must have been a COTS product for a minimum of one year and at least 500 units must be installed by the date of the award.

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