Linus Torvalds on Retina Displays

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by skaertus, Oct 31, 2012.

  1. skaertus macrumors 68030

    skaertus

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    #1
    I've seen a lot of people discussing whether the shift to a retina display would be necessary or if it was just a trend.

    Well, in fact, I'm thankful that Apple took this step and pushed high resolutions displays on smartphones (in 2010 with the iPhone 4), tablets (in early 2012 with the new iPad) and on laptops (in 2012 with the MacBook Pro).

    I said in another post that I remember when I bought my first desktop computer in 1993, and it came with a 14" display capable of a 1024x768 resolution. Well, that resolution hasn't improved much in the following 19 years, as most laptops (as well as the 13" MBA) are still stuck with a 1366x768 resolution (which is the widescreen version of 1024x768). I remember that my 386 DX run at 33 MHz, and I had 4 MB of RAM and 120 MB of HD; yes, those were MHz not GHz, and MB not GB. A lot has evolved, huh? Except for the display.

    Now it seems somebody else shares the same thoughts as me. Linus Torvalds, the father of Linux wants the 2560x1600 resolution (the same found in the 13" rMBP and in the new Google Nexus) to become the standard resolution in laptops. I think it's about time. Look at hus latest post on Google+:

    https://plus.google.com/+LinusTorvalds/posts/ByVPmsSeSEG

    I'll copy the post here:

     
  2. Xgm541 macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    I agree with him saying get rid of the retina crap, but in the end, its the average consumer who will vote if the high res screen becomes a standard or not. Calling it retina gives the average joe a non confusing name, making him/her easy to adopt it.

    I would say the majority of consumers dont look at resolution as a deciding factor in their laptop purchases. Name it 'retina', call it 'amazing' and they'll buy it.

    On another note, our hardware is just getting to the point of being able to sufficiently run 'retina' displays on these laptops so it is in a way understandable that something that requires 4x the computing power comes after the 4x computing power becomes available :)
     
  3. SDAVE macrumors 68040

    SDAVE

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    #3
    ^ True.

    Apple adds idiotic terms to some of their features to make it "user friendly." They have to.

    If Samsung started the trend of adding high res displays to their products, the industry would SLOWLY start to move to hi-res displays. Maybe 10 years.

    Only a company like Apple can make the investment and have it pay off at such a high volume on all their devices and also move the whole industry forward in that direction by making these high res screens affordable.
     
  4. pgiguere1 macrumors 68020

    pgiguere1

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    #4
    People are cheap when it comes to laptops. The average laptop sold 10+ years ago was a lot more expensive than today's.

    It used to be common for laptops to be $2,000+, now Apple almost has a monopoly on those.

    The average price of a Windows laptop sold in 2012 is only $507. It's hard to include a good display at that price and still make profits.

    I find it weird looking at this kind of statistic, and then look at smartphone sales and see the top sellers are phones like the iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, Galaxy SIII, Galaxy Note, etc. which all cost more (unsubsidized) than the average laptop. They also have a display resolution that's getting close to those of the average 1366x768 laptops.

    It either means that people care more about having high-end phones than about having high-end laptops, or that carriers subsidizing electronics make people go for higher-end stuff.

    I'm surprised that no company has tried to subsidize the price of laptops so far. They could say, sell a $1000 laptop for only $400 if you sign a contract to get some kind of online service bundle including LTE data, cloud storage, movie/music streaming, etc.

    BTW, little correction OP, the 13" MBA has a resolution of 1440x900, it's the 11" that has a 1366x768 display.
     
  5. nontroppo macrumors 6502

    nontroppo

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    #5
    Why on earth is he talking about absolute pixel dimensions, he should be talking about pixel density and resolution independance... :confused:

    No wonder his journalists then think fonts will end up small...
     
  6. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68030

    skaertus

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    #6
    Don't know if that's true. Somebody would have to start this trend. Samsung is a huge company and it could have done it for sure. But Apple is showing a leadership that is hard to be followed.
     
  7. SDAVE macrumors 68040

    SDAVE

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    #7
    Most companies do not care about shaking things up. They just do it when the money flow slows down to a crawl.

    Take the LCD TV revolution for example. When people started getting LCDs, then 3D came along and these companies wanted to make more money. This has been the business model for all of eternity.

    Apple on the other hand, does not care about the status quo, they do things their way and they have been successful so far like no other company has. Apple could stop making new devices because they are sitting on more than 100 Billion Dollars, but they don't want to do that, they want to push the industry a little further.

    Another example of how Apple was responsible for the push of the web is the lack of Flash support. Nowadays, mobile devices are able to do complex animations inside of the browser without flash bogging things down.

    I'm frankly thankful that Apple is out there lighting fire under companies' bottoms.
     
  8. grrrz macrumors member

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    #8
    ok but getting to that resolution could have been handled in a less idiotic way than apple's, like by gradually upping the resolution and making the OS UI more flexible and not resolution dependant.
    As opposed to selling overpriced computer with the same real estate in a doubled resolution and a cpu/gpu hungry and convoluted scaling system.
    ok that wouldn't have been an excuse to sell a completly closed "new design" computer.
    PC's were slowly going there anyway.
     
  9. sessamoid macrumors member

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    #9
    There's nothing idiotic about the term "Retina". Just because not everybody does dpi calculations in their heads given only pixel dimensions and diagonal screen size doesn't make them idiots. It just means they have a different idea of what's important in their lives.

    The "Retina" term does a good job of expressing what the importance of that high resolution is, and it makes it instantly comprehensible which products share those characteristics without having to be a neckbeard who does mental math for entertainment.
     
  10. nontroppo macrumors 6502

    nontroppo

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    #10
    That is exactly what Apple did; an elegant method that disentangles a physical pixel from a display pixel. Scaling is a trivial hardware operation, Apple's poor drivers aside... :confused:

    +1, as a visual scientist, relating a hardware spec into something measurable by psychophysical measures and relevant to human perception is simply elegant. If you don't see that, you are looking at it wrong! :p
     
  11. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68030

    skaertus

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    #11
    Well, actually I think that Apple simply got there first than the other companies, and not that it started the trend.

    In September 2011, before Apple unveiled its "retina" iPads and Macs, Intel announced, at the Intel Developer Forum, that Ivy Bridge would support up to 4096x4096 resolutions. See here: http://vr-zone.com/articles/post-idf-bites-ivy-bridge-gpu-to-support-4kx4k-displays-/13584.html

    On March 22, about three months before the rMBP was released, and just days after the new iPad was unveiled, a blog post from a Microsoft programmer detailed how Windows 8 would handle higher resolution displays.

    The full blog post is here: http://www.mobilemag.com/2012/03/22/windows-8-will-support-high-end-retina-style-displays/

    In the post, the developer cited that Microsoft expected 10.1" and 11.6" devices to support 2560x1440 resolutions. Look at this picture:

    [​IMG]

    On April 11, two months before the rMBP was released, Intel announced, at the Intel Developer Forum, that Ivy Bridge processors would be able to drive retina resolutions. Intel VP was not talking about PCs or Macs, he was talking about the capabilities of the Ivy Bridge integrated GPU.

    The full video is available here: http://intelstudios.edgesuite.net/idf/2012/bj/keynotes/idf2012_ks-en/main.htm#

    According to this, Intel would expect 10" tablets with 2460x1440 resolutions; 11" and 13" ultrabooks with 2560x1440 and 2800x1800 resolutions, respectively; and 15" and 21" screens with 3840x2160 resolutions. Look at this picture:

    [​IMG]

    Of course, these "retina-like" resolutions were being talked about in the backstage of computing industry much earlier before this information got released to the public. There should have been some coordinated effort of Microsoft, Intel and somebody else to drive these retina-like resolutions.

    Again, Apple was also working on retina iPads and Macs much before they were released. So, I wouldn't dare to say who's copying who here.

    It's hard to say that Apple is pushing retina displays and that everybody else is copying it. I guess the truth is that these ultra-high resolution displays are the next industry standard, that has been researched and talked about in backstages for years, and that Apple simply got there before for some reason related to its leadership in innovating or to its sheer size (it may have developed/bought some patents that allowed the technology to be mass-produced first, for instance).

    But, with or without Apple, it seems like that laptops displays would get "retina" resolutions anyway. In what appears to be totally unrelated to computer displays, the first Ultra HD Televisions are beginning to appear on the market. These displays, capable of 4K and even 8K resolutions, have been talked about at least since 2005 or 2006 (http://www.neoseeker.com/news/6126-byebye-1080p-hello-2160pr/). It's not Apple, it's the industry as a whole that is moving forward.
     
  12. SDAVE macrumors 68040

    SDAVE

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    #12
    ^ That's my point, though. Apple is able to apply these technically advanced devices/parts in real world scenarios—i.e. the consumer realm, usually way before anyone else. They did it with USB, iPhones, now displays.

    These companies who make these parts need to push out a ton of them so everyone can have access to it later. That is the reality of consumerism.
     
  13. leman macrumors 604

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    #13
    Intel and Apple have long been discussing this technology together. There was an interesting article about this somewhere, I forgot... basically, it appears likely that Intel's direction for IB GPU was at least partially influenced by Apple.

    @torvalds: let's see that resolution-independence support in Linux then.
     
  14. stevelam macrumors 65816

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    #14
    Umm high resolutions does not = retina. The whole idea about retina display is the SCALING factor. Not just stupid high resolution numbers. So 4k resolution was being talked about a few years ago? Who cares. That has absolutely NOTHING to do with scaling.

    This is similar to when people post crap like "my old MacBook could run an external display at 2560 res just fine so surely any video card could do retina display!"
     
  15. GekkePrutser macrumors 6502a

    GekkePrutser

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    #15
    Linus is spot on there! I've been waiting for these displays for many years as well (ever since the day they were called 'HiDPI').

    Luckily it looks like this is all coming true now, thanks to Apple for pushing the technology. Now I'm just waiting for my 22" 3860x2160 display :)

    Edit: And while Apple may not necessarily have been first, they have done a lot to put the technology in the spotlight. They drive innovation forward with their marketing. Apple didn't build the retina displays, Samsung, LG, Sharp etc did. But they did a super job selling them and making everyone want one :)
     
  16. hugesaggyboobs macrumors member

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    #16
    I agree with Linus that laptop resolutions are lacking now big time. Mobile is outpacing them in ppi. It really is sad. The MacBook Air screen is an example of something that needs to go Retina asap.
     
  17. dusk007 macrumors 68040

    dusk007

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    #17
    High res does = retina. That is where the marketing mumbo jumbo comes from. That you cannot distinguish any pixels or that anything even higher def wouldn't be distinguishable.
    How scaling is done is something else and quite arbitrary. There isn't even "one" scaling factor. Some like more smaller stuff, some less bigger stuff. Windows had arbitrary scaling built in for years only most programs aren't properly built for it. Windows 8 which is now in development for a while (longer than there is a rMBP) has an actually versatile scaling. Android and iOS are from a GUI perspective largely indifferent to scaling.
    Nobody expected 4K resolution to run at exactly the same pixel for pixel match they use now. Nobody could work on a 15" or 21" 4K monitor. It was a given that better scaling would come along with such hires monitors. Which is why smartphones/tablets got it first as they started out more res independent.
     
  18. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68030

    skaertus

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    #18
    Well, if the technology was already been pushed anyway, high resolution displays would have become reality to the consumers regardless of Apple. Apple just came before everybody else.
     
  19. dusk007 macrumors 68040

    dusk007

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    #19
    Well Apple can change enough on an OS while everybody else had to wait for Windows 8 or break with Windows compatibility. In normal apps too much breaks.

    Most importantly though Apple can release a new product and sell the volume needed to produce such panels at scale for a price. If Dell or Sony released the same they could sell such low volume that it would have a price tag for which no one would even want it. Only Apple has economies of scale in the high tech because among the rest of the notebook world people just care too much for price and don't get enough publicity to sell a big enough volume.
     
  20. SDAVE macrumors 68040

    SDAVE

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    #20
    You don't get it, though, do you?

    Apple is one of those rare companies which does not care about the status quo. It's in their DNA.

    One recent example is the lack of support for Flash, which helped move the web forward. Everyone else started following that trend.

    Now that they have a lot of money and a name for themselves, they can make a bigger impact.
     
  21. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68030

    skaertus

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    #21
    Oh, come on!

    Apple is a company. It has no DNA, although Steve Jobs did a great job in developing a corporate culture.

    This whole history of not caring about status quo is pure marketing. You're really buying it, aren't you?

    Tim Cook says that he is not interested in what other companies are doing, that Apple is not even looking at it. Well, this is what Apple wants customers to believe. And it is doing a pretty good job at that. But Apple is definitely always looking at what competitors are doing. Because this is what all companies do. No exceptions, not even the deified, almighty Apple.

    Do you want some examples?

    Why Apple would release a lower priced iPad mini, without a retina display and with weaker specs, if not because other companies are releasing lower priced Android devices that have the potential of eating iPad's market share?

    Why Apple would release an iPhone 5 with a larger screen if other companies such as Samsung, HTC and Motorola hadn't released Android devices with screens larger than the iPhone?

    Why Apple would move to Intel in 2006 if not to keep competitive, in terms of peroformance, with Windows-based PCs?

    Not caring about the status quo? Pfff... Apple is indeed an innovator, but it is still a company. This whole thing of battling Flash was of course a good step forward. But Apple only did that because vanishing Flash out of the web was a necessary step for the proliferation of iOS devices, which lack Flash support. As Apple is a huge player in the sector, and as other companies found this to be convenient, then they followed the trend.

    Now, with a hundred billion dollars in cash, Apple can sure make lots of innovations. However, if you look deeper, Apple could have spent lots of this cash to promove the development of products like nobody has ever done. But the US$ 100 billion is still intact on the bank. Apple is using only a minimal amount to develop new technologies. Well, why? Because Tim Cook's real job is to please customers only to the extent customers are pleased with Apple so its market share keeps increasing, and the stockholders are happy enough to keep buying shares and keeping Tim Cook as the CEO.

    That's why I said, Apple has released products with high resolution displays before anybody else, and it is marketing them very well, but products with higher resolution displays would have gotten there with or without Apple. Apple just released these products in anticipation of the trend.

    I agree that this is different from what happened with the iPhone and the iPad. The iPhone and the iPad drove real revolutions in the smartphone and tablet fields, respectively. Apple created the market for these products and other companies saw the potential and followed. But it's not what I see to be happening with high resolution displays.

    ----------

    This is like saying that Apple has the monopoly on innovation. It's not true. These displays would have been released anyway. Dell or Sony don't make these displays; there are only a few of manufacturers such as Samsung, LG or Sharp that make them, and they would be produced and sold to HP, Dell, Sony, Lenovo and other companies to equip their laptops.

    Of course Apple had the power to push the mass production of high resolution displays before what would have been its normal course.
     
  22. leman macrumors 604

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    #22
    I agree with you, but the other guy also has a good point. Apple is known for setting trends, both in software and hardware. So far, they provide the only major OS with working and really high-quality resolution independence support all the way through the system. I haven't find any conclusive data about resolution independence support for Linux, and Windows is just messed up: the support is there and has been for a long time, but the APIs handle the whole thing in a really weird way which is really developer-unfriendly. Currently, in OS X APIs a logical point either equals a physical pixel, or it is 2x2 physical pixels. This is a hack (one which could make some things more complicated in the future), but it is developer-friendly and it makes creating retina-aware applications very easy.

    The next step would be to completely move the software APIs from pixels to metric/typographic units, so that if you ask for a 12pt font, you will actually get a 12pt font. But it will take some time.
     
  23. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68030

    skaertus

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    #23
    Yes, the resolution independence approach in OS X seems to be really neat and innovative. I don't know how Windows 8 handles it, but it looks like it hasn't improved much from Windows 7.
     
  24. SDAVE macrumors 68040

    SDAVE

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    #24
    I have friends who work at Apple's design team and also other companies.

    Sure, Jobs was a great salesman and a businessman. Yes, Apple makes money and they are a business, not arguing with that.

    The point is, they greatly care about the things they put out compared to many other companies where hierarchy is usually given to engineers. At Apple, the priority is given to designers, which is essential in ANY company. You clearly don't know how important DESIGN is.

    Not saying you don't understand what I am talking about, but you're ignoring the fact that Apple in the last 10 years has made MAJOR changes in the industry by taking risks and not necessarily listening to the customers.

    In all honesty, I don't care about the iPad, but I do like where the web is going to.

    I am in no way an Apple sympathizer, but some of the best designers and important people in the world appreciate what they're doing. Matter of fact, I don't care about their iOS line at all, even though I do have an iPad and an iPhone. I do care about their Mac line as it is my livelyhood.

    Yes, they have to please the board and the shareholders, but that comes with the territory.

    You are truly ignoring the facts here. Please look at history in the last 20 years.
     
  25. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68030

    skaertus

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    #25
    I totally agree with you that in terms of design, Apple is the great innovator in this industry; it has, indeed, taken the design of both hardware and software into another level. I absolutely know the importance of design, not only in aesthetical terms, but especially in terms of making products more useful. And I have to agree that this approach made Apple release great consumer products and made it the biggest company in the world in terms of market cap.

    Now, you have to agree that higher resolution displays are a matter of engineering. The industry itself was leaning towards it anyway. But, in terms of design, Apple did a brilliant job by managing to put a high resolution display in such a thin and light laptop (in terms of hardware) and in introducing a good scaling approach in OS X (in terms of software). And the marketing was good too, as the general public became aware of what a "retina display" means.
     

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