This document provides a working overview of multiple-monitor solutions for HP Workstations running
the Linux® operating system and the XFree86® X windowing system. It covers system concepts,
configuration examples, support information, and configuration tradeoffs for system designers. This
paper assumes familiarity with Linux configuration, basic X server usage, window managers, and
essential video graphics card fundamentals, e.g., AGP versus PCI, and now PCI Express interfaces,
VGA versus DVI versus dual-link DVI connectors, 3D versus 2D accelerated graphics.
Many advanced graphics cards have the speed and capacity to simultaneously drive multiple display
monitors. While conventional systems provide single-monitor setups, markets now demand multiple
monitors to fully support their data-intensive visualization needs, such markets include:
• Digital Content Creation
• Medical Imaging
• Oil and Gas
• Electronic Design Automation
• Financial Services
The emerging standard for efficient production workstations considers 2, 3, and 4 monitors the norm
and 6 to 8 displays an interesting future goal.
HP supports a wide spectrum of graphics device solutions from Professional 2D to Extreme 3D.
Professional 2D devices offer affordable multiple screen real estate for business professionals. For
users requiring 3D solutions, HP offers a range of devices from Entry-level 3D with price performance
advantages to Extreme 3D devices offering the latest features in programmability, stereo, antialiasing
and lots of memory. Almost all HP Workstation graphics cards provide two video output connectors
and can drive dual video monitors.
The most common graphics interface in systems today is AGP supporting various transfer rates
[8x,4x,2x], with 8x mode offering up to 2GB/s in bandwidth. However, in HP's latest workstations,
the primary graphics interface is now PCI Express (PCIe) supporting up to 16x transfer rates with
approximately 4GB/s bandwidth. PCIe is seen as the new standard for a scalable interface as
graphics and other devices become more powerful and require more bandwidth. A few card models
also support the PCI interface such as the NVIDIA® 280NVS-PCI graphics card. A complete list of HP
supported Linux graphics devices is located at
• Graphics Drivers: Software drivers dictate the available functionality and performance of
graphics cards under XFree86 on Linux. Users should be aware of two distinctions: