Video Wall Processors: How Much Power is Needed?
Video wall processors take one, or several inputs, and allows them to be shown across multiple video wall displays, or independent signage displays. While there are many video wall processors available on the market, they vary widely by cost and complexity. For those looking to use video wall processor to power their video wall, this article will cover the major trends in video wall processors and highlight some key considerations.
Three Main Approaches to Video Wall Processors
There are three main types of video wall processors, each with a different approach. 1) Proprietary hardware (a “Black box”) with fixed inputs and outputs, 2) A PC chassis with added video cards and 3) a Network delivered video wall processor that uses a standard PC but doesn’t require video cards. This article will examine these approaches in this order.
1) Proprietary Hardware
Proprietary server hardware with fixed inputs and outputs is the most common approach to video wall processors used by Planar Matrix, tvOne CORIOMaster, RGB Spectrum Galileo, Extron Quantum Elite, Christie Digital. The benefit of this approach is that the hardware comes pretested and preconfigured for a specific load and use case. The challenge is that with proprietary hardware, customers pay a significant premium for the product and should a replacement or service be required in an emergency the customer may have limited options. This approach also restricts future expansion. Should the customer want to change the number of inputs or outputs entirely new hardware may be required.
2) Added Video Cards
The second approach to video wall processors is add on video cards. Take a PC chassis and insert video cards that output content directly to the displays. This is promoted by companies like Matrox and allows a system integrator to turn a PC into a video wall processor. This requires system integrators to match a PC and its motherboard to the number of video cards required and to add on software to process the content. Depending on the hardware used, this can be an expensive upfront cost, but more importantly, as with option 1, it limits future growth and capacity and is limited to the capabilities (in terms of content size, display rotation etc) of the video cards used.
Both of these approaches share one important flaw: they are hardware based solutions and a customer is buying a solution with little future growth and at risk of making a very large investment only to find that as their business needs change, the video wall processor is incapable of growing and changing with their needs.
3) Network-based Video Wall Processor (Userful)
The third approach is the network-based video wall processor (i.e. Userful) that uses a standard off the shelf PC, software and the network. This solution addresses the fundamental challenge other processors face: lack of flexibility and the inability to change and grow with the customer.
Userful software installs on a standard off the shelf PC (from HP or Lenovo) and uses standard low cost zero clients at each display, connected to the PC over the network. Because a standard PC can deploy from 1 to 60 screens and can do up to 8k source content, the solution is as scalable as customers required. Because the solution depends on software for its functionality, customers can take advantage of new features and functionality when they need to.