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IBM Research Enables Flat-Panel CRTs 166

joescrooge writes: "IBM's got something new to give those LCDs a run for their money." That something new is CRT technology which removes the unsightly humps that take up most of the space of traditional monitors, and directing the electron beams through a magnetic panel about the size of the displayed image. Considering that 15" LCDs are now under $400 at Walmart, even cheaper ones sound like a pleasant fantasy for dual- and triple-headed flat-panel systems.
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IBM Research Enables Flat-Panel CRTs

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Disclaimer: I haven't read the linked-to stories, so take this with a grain of salt.

    While appropriate to point out, I don't think anyone assumes otherwise anymore on this site. Does anyone before post 100 actually read the articles anymore?
  • from Dell currently has a 20% off all monitors promotion. Also apply code 7C353E208B9A to get $30 off, which expires today. Free ground shipping, too. Purchase price $344. Viewsonic has a $100 rebate. The Viewsonic rebate says that it is only valid if purchased from authorized resellers, and you'll find Dell listed on this Viewsonic page.
  • IBM gets tonnes of patents and they also make a significant percentage of their revenue from licencing the technology they develop. many cmos, hard drive, and other technologies were developed at ibm and the manufacturers pay ibm to use the technologies and processes.

    just because they developed it doesn't mean they'll use it directly. of course they won't just give it away for free, either.

    the original stupid poster who didn't read the article of course missed the part in the end where it said ibm was hoping to licence this technology to another manufacturer.
  • responding to an article before reading it is so stupid on so many levels that i don't even know where to start. please don't post replies that aren't trolls unless you have actually read the article, it's sort of a gentlemen's agreement here at slapdash.
  • of course i'm a troll, this is slashdot after all. you don't stay at one site this long without doing a little of everything it has to offer, and really, trolling is damn fun.
  • Ok I think you need to learn some basic physics here. A vacuum is a very very low pressure region with an (almost) total lack of air, or anything else for that matter. Any kind of fluid exerts pressure on its surroundings, yes that includes all the air around you, you dont notice it though because its generally pressing in equally from all sides. However if you take a glass bottle and pump all the air out of it, there is an imbalance because there is no long any air inside puhsing outwards. If you do that with a bottle thats weak enough it will simply collapse under the pressure of all the surrounding air. Would you like a monitor that does that spontaneously? If so make one with really thin walls on the CRT....
  • How about a a big squared off IBM logo covered in borg tech. (cube)
  • Basically, the IBM design replaces the single gun with a matrix of them, which sounds like a win

    No, that's not what was done. (Ignoring the fact that color displays have three guns, I'll talk about monochrome displays instead...)

    There isn't a matrix of guns, there's still just the one, it's just that the cathode size is now huge. With a traditional cathode tube, the cathode is small and it makes a very fine beam which is always on and swept across the display.

    This new technology also uses a single cathode, but it's big, and produces a beam as big as the display, so you don't have to sweep it. In both cases you have one gun which is always on.

    The power consumption is the same. In the old design you're spitting out N electrons per second and at any given instant in time a single pixel is receiving the entire output of the gun for a very short time. In the new design, you still output N electrons per second, but the electrons received by any given pixel are spread out in time, rather than all arriving at the same time.

    This kind of design won't have any need to flicker anything. There is no concept of refresh with a device like this. One moment of time is the same as any other. (Assuming a static image.)

  • QUOTE:
    - lends itself perfectly for even better font smoothing (like the ClearType smoothing in, sorry I have to say, Windows XP)

    Or like the sub pixel aliassing done by Xfree86 with Xft. Same thing(?) even better results. Less catchy name. Markteting got you.

  • With so many different flat-panel monitor / screen coming out into the market, it is getting confusing.

    Is there anybody out there who can simplify the whole confusing thingy into something that idiots like me can comprehend?


    Thank you !

  • Many gamers change their resolutions often
    because games have trouble driving graphics
    at the full resolution of a normal desktop.

    With a laptop, you get a black border
    and your game in the middle instead of full
    screen, for example.

    I think that software scaling would solve the
    problem though.

  • Thank you so much for that link. That picture is easily worth a thousand words, maybe more, in explaining to me how this new CRT differs from conventional ones. If this thing flies it could make a big difference in not just monitors but televisions as well.
  • In a traditional monochrome CRT there is one beam that is swept (deflected) across and down to get it to each dot of phosphor. A pixel consists of one or more of these dots, depending upon the resolution setting. These dots are adhered to the inside of the screen and need no other mechanical support.

    In a color CRT there are trios of phosphor dots (one red, one blue, one green). There are three beams (one for each color) which are deflected simultaneously by the same magnetic fields. Again, those dots are adhered to the inside of the screen and need no further mechanical support.

    There is a thing called a shadow mask which is a thin metal sheet with a corresponding hole for each dot trio. This blocks the beams from getting through except during those instants when they are aimed by the deflection fields so as to land exactly on the intended dot instead of somewhere between a couple of them. The Trinitron uses a variation of this scheme that uses rectangular holes instead of round ones, and 2 or 3 thin vertical wires to help support the very thin shadow mask.

    In order to get the same brightness out of a phosphor dot you have to hit it with the same amount of energy. If you can do that with more electrons (greater current), but a lower anode voltage (resulting in less acceleration) and a power supply with lower internal resistence so that you can get more current with a lower voltage, you might be able to deliver the same amount of energy with a lower chance of X-radiation, but I'm going to have to drag out several more old books to be sure about that.

    That power supply with lower internal resistance will be more expensive, however.

  • Perhaps he means 48 bit color, but that's (currently) a video card function.

    The reason monitors went from digital to analog in the first place was because sending from video card to monitor digitally and then converting to analog inside the monitor meant adding more wires to the cable between the video card and the monitor in order to use more digital bits per pixel.

  • It's not a magnetic coil. If you turn off the electricity there's no magnetism present. It's a coil (actually two, one for horizontal deflection, one for vertical) of wire, not terribly heavy, used to generate a magnetic field by running electrical current through it (them). Unlike some coils and transformers, the deflection coils don't have a core of iron, they're more like an air-core coil. An iron core would tend to concentrate the magnetic lines of force, but in deflection coils you want those lines of force to spread out far enough to penetrate the glass envelope of the picture tube and influence the path of the electron beam inside.

    The electron guns (one for each color) are part of the cathode ray tube. All the stuff inside the cathode ray tube, including any electron guns, are fairly light, being made out of thin pieces of metal. The heavy part of the CRT is the glass. The rest of the heavy part is the metal chassis and the other components outside of the CRT, especially the coils and transformers that *do* have iron cores.

  • I did laugh, but really, he didn't say a thing about sticking an axe head in that bundle.
  • Whenever a stream of electrons is accelerated by several thousand volts and caused to bombard a target, the collision of the electrons with that target can result in X-band radiation.

    Way back in the day televisions had, in addition to the cathode ray tube with ten or more thousand volts potential on its anode, another tube, the damper diode, that also had an anode voltage in the kiloVolt range, and a law or regulation was made mandating a metal cage around that tube to prevent it from X-radiating the general area.

  • Only if there is a significant charge built up inside the CRT will it work. It's that charge that attracts and accelerates the electrons toward the front of the tube to bombard the phosphor dots to make them glow. The sheilding is to block X-band radiation generated by those speeding electrons smashing into stuff.
  • Not in any of the varied and several monitors which I have taken apart, and even if I'd somehow only seen the insides of the ones that don't I'd have heard about it from others who work on monitors and TVs.

    There's enough weight in the circuitry external to the crt which is in the back part of the monitor to counterbalance the weight of the front of the crt (which is where most of the weight of a crt is).

    Admittedly trying to lift some of those puppies may be enough to make you think that there's a lead brick inside.

  • Just explained it the other day. Go here [] and begin reading, and it should all be made clear.
  • The solder used to electrically and mechanically connect component leads to the copper printed circuit board traces is about half lead and half tin.

    The material used as the dielectric in the several electrolytic capacitors can leak out and eat away the copper traces even while the unit is in use so it probably isn't something that you want leaching into the water supply either.

    The various nasty chemicals used in the construction of the monitor and the parts that go into it are probably as great an evironmental hazard as is the monitor once it winds up in a landfill.

  • They should probably have said spiral or corkscrew instead of spin. This happens in regular CRTs and is done on purpose. At the moment I disremember why, but somewhere I've got an old textbook or two that explain it.
  • A bit of /. history. A long time ago, IBM crack legal team told /. to stop using /. rendition of the IBM logo. This was sort of the IBM letters, skewed in a 3-D sort of way with I in front. The letters also cast a slight shadow. /. mentioned this story and the flames ensued.

    Fortunately, some IBM'ers actually visit this site and got this mess squared away pretty quickly. The result? /. uses the official IBM logo provided by IBM (IIRC).

    See here [] for the resolution of this crisis. BTW, no need to Borg-ify IBM at this time

  • by trb ( 8509 )
    There was an article about this in New Scientist [] recently, archived by our friends at Google. This article stresses the fact that they are "spy-proof" (they don't leak much RF).

    There are a handful of citations about the patents involved in this innovation at the uspto [] and at [].

    Beeteson has written a book called Visualizing Magnetic Fields []. It got some favorable reviews at Hey, wait a minute, those cheery reviews are by his co-patent-holders, Drs Knox and Lowe. Dude. Might be a page turner, you never know.

  • Biggest marker for LCDs: Laptops... Power will be an issue. That said, I think that the power consumption of this new type of CRT cannot be compared with the CRTs we know, because the distance to the phosporus is a lot smaller, hence the voltage drop between the anode and cathode will be less, hence the power consumption will be a lot less too. I think it has a good chance to beat LCDs, on preice and power consumption just because it doesn't need the expensive power-sucking flat white backlight. Think about that. I hope IBM can put these things on the market in 21" size soon (this year?).
  • I am not sure, but I think you are wrong here.
    Most monitors are not rated to display
    16-16-16 colors. True, video cards are a limitation
    as well, but I would seriously consider taking
    a few DACs and writing my own driver if 48-bit
    were available on the monitor side.
  • I don't care about thinness. When will they come out
    with 48-bit monitors at regular CRT prices?????!!!!!
  • Sorry, I meant 48-bit color. If you have
    16-bit data you want to render it in
    16-bit greyscale, but current monitors do
    8-bit greyscale only. 'Course SGI makes nice
    expensive 48-bit color displays but when can
    I buy one at Walmart for cheap?!

  • More technical information can be found at the IBM Research display technology [] site.

  • here []. Jeez, it's hard to find real information about this.

  • Yeah, I realized only after posting that the article I thought was about this technology was about another. However, you can get access to IBM's patents from that site.
  • We've had thin CRTs since the 80s. Remember Sinclair's flat screen TV []? :-)
  • Your sig: The semantic content of XML is equivalent to S-expressions, the core data structure of Lisp --aLispGuru

    Perhaps you would considering linking your sig to an implementation of the above that makes this very clear, as well as being a handy way of handling XML in Scheme:

  • I wish this article had a little more substance to it or maybe some links to somewhere that did. It's a bit thin on details and information.

    Regardless, having a thin CRT solution to replace LCDs would be great. I mean, I love the things that LCD screens enable me to do (especially with mobile applications, laptops, etc.)... but the bad thing about LCDs is that they are extremely fragile.

    A nice LCD screen compared to the same size/resolution is probably really nice to look at... for a while. Then that nasty thing happens... you get a bright yellow pixel stuck "on" in the middle of your screen, forever taunting you from the midst of dark colors.

    When LCD pixels go out, it sucks... but usually not a big deal. When one of the pixel's colors gets stuck to "on" it's absolutely terrible.

    Hopefully these thin CRTs will bring the advantages of LCDs and the reliability of big-tube CRTs together for a nice package.

  • Ah, yes... that's much better. Thanks for the link!
  • by AJWM ( 19027 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @10:13PM (#63666) Homepage
    Electrons slamming to a stop produce X-rays. The faster the electrons and the faster the stop, the higher energy the X-rays. Color monitors have a lot of lead in the glass (several pounds of it) to keep your skull from developing a nice monitor burn :-)
  • I had one of these Sinclair 2" portables and it bust quite quickly (which may be the reason for its commercial failure!) Naturally, I took it apart. It is basically a standard CRT; one single gun and a bunch of magnets, albeit in an original arrangement. The beam was directed sideways at phosphor on one side of a flat sided tube and you looked in through the other side. Lots of oblique angles!

    It was only small cos the screen was small, This would not scale well to 17" monitor. At a guess the case would be about 8" deep and 38" wide!!
  • We've watched The Matrix again haven't we?

    Now we just need them to be touch panels magically without lots of greasy fingerprints and fingerless driver's gloves for no apparent reason.

  • I'm just now enjoying my 19" monitor. Paid $170 for it. Much cheaper than the 14" it replaced. Someday!
  • What you said didn't make any sense...

    One thing you said that was right: the air pressure differential is the same regardless of how big the vaccuum is. That's not the determinant factor in the glass's the structural integrity of a piece of glass large enough for the desired display area when subjected to that differential.

    Take a small stick. Bend it until it breaks. Now get a bundle of sticks and apply approximately the same effort in bending. Betcha it doesn't break.

  • Nobody ever said it did...the guy you responded to initially was making a blanket statement about 2 things: that CRT glass is thick and therefore heavy, and that as the screen (not depth) size increases, that's going to get significantly heavier. You have to make the glass larger in both area and thickness as the display size grows. You're the one who brought the size of the vaccuum into the discussion...

  • Of course, on those rainy days, big clunky CRTs are great for drying out bike helmets and gloves. There is almost nothing worse than putting on a cold, wet clothing and having to bike home when it's already getting dark out.

    "Intelligence is the ability to avoid doing work, yet getting the work done".
  • by dead_penguin ( 31325 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @04:42PM (#63673)
    Ummm... There is one. Just browse [] the topic and see.

    As for Borgification of the logo or making other changes to it, I guess some of you haven't been around here long enough to remember this [].

    "Intelligence is the ability to avoid doing work, yet getting the work done".
  • by dead_penguin ( 31325 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @04:21PM (#63674)
    The biggest problem with LCDs is that of fixed resolutions. An LCD screen has a fixed number of pixels, so adjusting the screen resolution is difficult at best and hideously ugly at worst...

    Hate to disappoint you, but I don't think these CRTs are going to be any different. These "tubes" accelerate electrons from a cathode the size of the entire screen through a grid of holes with magnets, one hole per pixel. These magnets then redirect the beam slightly, hitting either the red, green or blue phosphors in the front of the screen.

    I'd imagine, though that monitors based on this technology would have *much* less flicker than conventional CRT monitors. Since there is essentially one beam per pixel, the speed at which one can accurately scan a single beam around the screen is no longer a limiting factor for refresh rate. The *only* factors should be the bandwidth between monitor and video card, and the latency of the phosphors in the screen.

    "Intelligence is the ability to avoid doing work, yet getting the work done".
  • dunno, about what is most of the weight, but I would assume they could ditch atleast some of the glass weight and most of the magnet weight, titanium is fairly light as far as metals go, this leaves transformers and the like,(iron core) but with the really cool BJT's coming out these days, I think we will be seeing much more powerfull/efficent/smaller powersupplys in everything.
  • a giant magnetic coil, to aim a(not so light) elctron gun, and the glass is pretty heavy, the tube does have to deal with some decent pressure
  • Price war! Price war!

    Okay, seriously. This means that all those Hollywood movies showing us what the future of computing is like (you know -- "it's not just a multi-monitor system!"; 3 1/2" CDs; flat panel displays galore) are WRONG!


    Now if only they can produce some before the next Ice Age hits.

    Charles E. Hill
  • I read about this technology ten years ago in a decades-old book. It's nothing new. Wonder why it's taken so long for someone to implement it. And yeah, these will likely be fixed resolution monitors too, 'cos of the way the electron beam is directed onto the screen using a magnetic or electrostatic grid behind the screen.
  • I've been following the progress of Telegen [] for quite some time. They've been showing their technology on the floor of the Consumer Electronics Show for the past few years.

  • Try $900 here

    Or actually go to Wal-Mart and buy one for $400. Wal-Mart !=

    But why pay $400 when you can get one for even less [].
  • so now we can reduce the space needed

    And hopefully the weight? 21" is probably a little above what most people want to lug around.

  • by interiot ( 50685 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @04:03PM (#63682) Homepage
    Well, the weight of the glass grows exponentially with size. Because the inside is a vaccuum, the glass has to hold quite a bit of pressure. As tubes get larger, the walls have to get thicker to maintain structural integrity. Combine that with increased surface area, and that's a lot of glass.
  • by conform ( 55925 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @04:35PM (#63685)
    Something that seems apparent from the New Scientist diagram, but isn't mentioned in any of the articles I've read, is that it appears that this technology might enable huge improvements in refresh rate and allow a lot of improvements through development of the phosphors used in the screen.

    A normal CRT uses an electromagnetic coil to direct the spray of electrons coming of the (relatively small) cathode at the back of the monitor. The lines of the screen are literally traced out by the stream. This puts hard limits on the requirements for a phosphor -- the phosphor has to be designed to be as bright as possible for the entire length of time it takes to refresh the whole screen, and then fades out as quickly as possible after that interval. This is a difficult requirement and one that can really only be approximated.

    This screen, however, uses a large cathode and localized electromagnetic fields (one per pixel) to direct the beam. That means the screen is refreshing all over, all the time, instead of a line at a time. Phosphors for this new monitor, then, need not be designed to stay at full intensity for anywhere near as long as traditional CRT phosphors, which means that they can probably be made to improve the contrast significantly.

    I'm no expert on this, so corrections are welcome... but as I understand it, the light0gun model and it's impact on phosphor choices has long been one of the biggest impediments in CRT improvement, and it sure looks to me like this design breaks that problem down very efficiently.

  • ... my main gripe with LCD panels is that they don't handle non-native resolutions gracefully. But if this is true CRT-like technology, we'll finally have the best of both worlds (great support for various resolutions, and the thin form factor!).

    It's not clear to me that the CRT is actually variable resolution. The ilustration seemed to show a matrix of holes through one layer. If the beam is steered through those there may be a fixed resolution.

    Unfortunately the image is so low-res that I can't make out what's actually going on, and the text isn't particularly helpful either. So we'll have to wait for another article with more info on what's actually going on in the guts.

    Even if the resolution is fixed, the cost reduction, viewing angle improvement, potential color rendering improvements, and/or simplified electronics may make it viable.
  • CRTs are evacuated. 14 pounds per square inch.

    In a traditional CRT, there is one beam that is shared with all the pixels. So there can't be any mechanical supports anywhere inside the tube that would interfere with the beam. In the flat CRT, each pixel has its own beam. This means there can be mechanical support around each and every pixel. It is still 14 pounds per square inch, but a lot fewer square inches per pixel.

    Likewise, in a traditional million pixel monitor, each pixel is only on one one millionth of the time. In the flat screen CRT, each pixel is on all the time, so the beam can be one million times weaker, for the same brightness.

    Weaker beams, fewer X-rays.

  • On power consumption:
    Talking out my ass here, but it seems to reason that even though the distance between cathode and anode is smaller (requiring less voltage), there is a wider area from which to draw electrons so the current might even be higher. Also, at first glance, it seems that there are more segments that require power due to a larger number of beams. There's probably some inefficiency there too.

    On quality:
    Does anybody know how well this would hold out against spot imperfections? One problem I see with LCD is that you can have spot imperfections that accumulate over time. With CRT you get general distortion. I tend to prefer the distortion because it has smooth transitions that the human eye adjusts to (I buy used monitors with warps and spots at a great discount). But a dot stands out and is an irritation (high contrast). It seems to me that the flat-CRT will be just as suseptible to local-imperfections as LCD due to localized damage to anodes.

    Assuming the cost is greater than CRT, then the only thing you get from these monitors is space savings.. If you don't absolutely need it, it probably won't be worth it. I like my used $260 21" Hitachi just fine.
  • The bottleneck is likely to be the connection to the monitor. Unless this is an all digital monitor (which I guess would be possible), then you still have to pass an analog signal which is limited by the quality of the cable (bandwidth) and the performance of the video card.

    even if it's digital, there's still the issue of feeding all that info. You can't just have one pin per pixel, so you'll need to scan by some means. I thought that there were several competing techniques to accomplish this with LCD's though I'm not too familiar with what is mostly used.

    Point being that there's no garuntee that it has any faster refresh rates than traditional CRTs, nor do we know if there will be as much fading / trailing as in some older laptops.

  • What about power, reliability, and safety? From the limited information, it looks like these might be better due on all 3 factors due to the less "leaky" radiation, excess heat, and smaller transformers. But that is highly speculative, and are some of the strongest arguments for LCDs.

    My employer recently replaced all the monitors in their "data center" with LCDs because of long term cost advantages (less A/C in the lab, and less power consumption)
  • by Apotsy ( 84148 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @05:25PM (#63696)
    That sounds like it might be akin to CD players vs. turntables.

    No it doesn't. The idea that CRTs are better than LCDs for color is supported by cold hard facts. [] Even a cheap-o CRT has better delta-E values than the LCDs in that test.

    Next thing you know, we'll be saying CRTs have "warmer" color.

    No, just considerably more accurate color.

  • I don't care how small the CRT is, if it still gives me headaches and sore eyes at even the highest of refresh rates, it still blows compared to LCDs.
  • Now I can get my US RDA of radiation and still have a sexy flat screen! The best of both worlds! I was afraid that in a year or two all I'd be able to get would be an LCD, and the radiation from my CRT is the only thing keeping my tan going.

    On a more serious note, I recently got a Viewsonic 19" monitor on pricewatch for $280. Once you can run 1600x1200 on a decent sized display, it's pretty hard to go back to a 15" one. I don't care if it is flat. If I could get a 19" to 21" monitor in the CRT price range (21" is still a bit pricey for a good one) I'd be very happy. This article is talking about the potential of making projection sized displays! Even better! I'd love to have a data wall!

  • That would important if I bought my monitor specifically to avoid power consumption, but I suspect that most people are like me, they choose their monitor for the cost and resolution, the specific areas where LCDs are lacking.

    I have an 18" LCD monitor on my desk for one of my servers, and it's great for occasional use, but my 21" CRT is king for everything else.

    Remember, a computer peripheral is for the USER.
  • by Dirtside ( 91468 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @03:52PM (#63702) Journal
    This is the kind of thing I think we've all been waiting for: a monitor technology that combines the form factor and weight-savings of an LCD (thin = light = easier to carry around = less desk space taken up) with (hopefully, if their tech is any good) the quality of a CRT monitor. The biggest problem with LCDs is that of fixed resolutions. An LCD screen has a fixed number of pixels, so adjusting the screen resolution is difficult at best and hideously ugly at worst (you end up with big unused areas on the screen, or it does a kind of interpolation to stretch a 640x480 image to 1024x768).

    But a CRT can adjust to almost any resolution within a huge range, 320x200 all the way up to, I dunno, a lot :) (2048x1280, anyone?) If this tech is for real, and useful, then we (namely, gamers) may have what we've always wanted: a nice, big, flat, lightweight, thin, good-looking monitor with fast refresh, vibrant colors, and adjustable resolutions!

    Sorry, this is more or less just a bit of happy-fun-cheering, no real useful content here, move along, move along kind of post.
  • I have a number of graphic artists on my LAN. Let me tell ya, those 21" CRT's can really kill your back when you have to move them around! This will be a greatly welcomed change, if they can manage the same color quality that current CRT's have.
  • Well, I think you're still looking at a significant weight reduction by lopping alot of the internal glass. Also, 21" monitors aren't just heavy, they're also bulky, making it difficult to manage the weight. A thin version, even if it weighed the same, would still be easier to carry.
  • I don't want an LCD because it's flat. I want an LCD because it has lower power consumption, no Electromagnetic Radiation, and sharper picture. This is no real improvement on a traditional CRT except for smaller footprint and possibly less weight, and regardless of what they claim, I'm sure it will sell for a premium over an old-fashioned CRT with comparable viewing area.
  • For Pete's sake, man, how often do you change your display resolution???
  • Try $900 here []
  • Excuse me, that should be less radiation, although for all practical purposes the EMR of an LCD can safely be thought of as zero, especially compared to that of a CRT, or even to the power supply of the PC...
  • Can anyone find a copy of the little informative graphic they have with the story? A version that hasn't been shrunk to 50% size, so we can actually read the comments in it?
  • I can't believe I got modded down as a troll for asking that... and the answer is (rightly) modded up to +4...

    Oh wait, this is slashdot. Of course.

    Moderators on crack... bizzare.

  • Maybe, maybe not. I wouldn't get too optimistic without further details.

    Consider the way the electron gun works -- you essentially have a pretty powerful (relatively speaking) stream of electrons hitting each phosphor for a very very short period of time, and then the phosphor glows for a sixtieth of a second or so.

    Basically, the IBM design replaces the single gun with a matrix of them, which sounds like a win -- except that now the energy you were pumping into a single electron gun is spread out among 1.92 million of them (1600x1200 screen). Making each gun as strong as the original but "always on" would cause the monitor to suck up 1.92 million times as much energy, assuming equal efficiency. Naturally if the gun is always on it wouldn't need to be anywhere near as powerful as the original, but I'd bet that 1/1,920,000 of a normal gun's power probably isn't enough.

    In any case, to keep the power consumption of the monitor reasonable, there appear to be only three options: A) dramatically reduce the power of the guns (by a factor of almost two million), B) "flicker" them, firing only for very brief periods, or C) some combination of the above.

    I'd bet that (C) is most likely: that the guns will be weaker and fire in bursts. I could be totally wrong, of course, as I don't actually know anything about the technology they're using -- but it seems like a reasonable assumption. So anyway, chances are (at least until further information proves me wrong) there will still be a refresh rate. Of course, it might be a really really fast refresh rate (say 1000Hz) which would be just as good as always on, but I'd say wait until more details surface before getting excited.
  • Take a small stick. Bend it until it breaks. Now get a bundle of sticks and apply approximately the same effort in bending. Betcha it doesn't break.


  • by FTL ( 112112 ) <slashdot@neil.f r a s> on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @04:03PM (#63714) Homepage
    The New Scientist had an article about this back in May. They took a slightly different angle on it -- pointing out its "spy-proof" features. Although the article appears to be gone, Google still has a copy of it [].
  • Not the same graphic, but really close [].
  • by FTL ( 112112 ) <slashdot@neil.f r a s> on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @04:11PM (#63716) Homepage
    Aha, found the original New Scientist article. They've moved it here [].
  • by Tyger ( 126248 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @04:26PM (#63720)
    Don't confuse the technology behind a CRT (The cathode generating an electron beam striking a phosphor) with the implementation (A single beam, steered across the screen by magnetic coils) of a standard CRT. This sounds remarkably similar to FED, ThinCRT, and other similar technologies. While the technology is the same (Cathode generating an electron beam striking a phospher) the implementation will likely be fastly different. In this case, it will be virtually identical to LCD - you have an address decoder that just walks through the horizontal and vertical rows, illuminating one pixel/row of pixels at a time, where each pixel is a defined area on the screen (Like LCDs) not where the beam happens to strike (Like traditional CRTs) In fact, the addressing hardware will probably be virtually identical. The biggest difference is instead of a transistor at each pixel, it just has an anode for the rows, and a cathode for the columns, and where the signals meet is illuminated. (Or vice versa) As to heat.. Most similar technologies use something called cold cathodes.. Due to their much reduced power requirements, they can use slightly different technologies, and do not require being warmed up like traditional CRTs before they operate. Of course, due to IBMs lack of information, this could all be wrong, but it is what it looks like to me. This should beat traditional CRTs for weight, power consumption, and clarity (No focus or convergence problems and simplified geometry management - push button alignment like on LCDs) but still use more power than LCDs and be heavier. I'm still keeping my eye on OLEDs though.
  • was the world where you`d like to see something which is moving. When i`ve tried playing games on an LCD screen its a bit like playing a scrolling game on the old Gameboy - a big blurry mess.
  • I couldn't find a current version of this article, but it would appear to be referencing the same technology, but has many more technical details.

    Anyway, here's [] the link.
  • Check this out. []
    They're a partner of Sony and they've already got demos of 13 inch displays. Why wait for IBM?
  • by the_other_one ( 178565 ) on Tuesday July 24, 2001 @04:05PM (#63732) Homepage

    There is quite a bit of lead radiation shielding. This is why monitors have to be disposed of as toxic waste if they are not properly recycled.

  • What makes CRTs so heavy anyway? It can't just be the glass. Would something like this reduce the weight, or are they just shifting around whatever it is that makes them so damn heavy?


  • Hmmm. If it is the glass that's mostly the weight, then do you need the glass to be as thick? On the one hand, it seems like you wouldn't need as much "vacuum volume". But on the other hand, does the volume matter? If you have a vacuum on the other side of the glass, it should be the same amount of air pressure on the other side regardless of the depth. So maybe the glass needs to be just as thick.

    It would kind of suck to have a 90 pound 21" monitor 2 centimeters thick, and have it fall forward into your lap. The base would need to take up pretty much the same amount of space as a standard monitor. Kind of defeats the purpose. :)


  • Eye strain is one of the biggest problems with CRT screens that LCDs overcome, are they not? It doesn't look like this "flat" CRT technology can overcome that. Along with power consumption and heat, these features might just be what the LCD market needs to advertise -- although most consumers won't care, seeing only the immediate cost savings instead of the long-term ones.
  • I would much rather have an unattractive LCD base than one that causes my $1500 investment to topple over. Where am I going with this? Well, while this new technology by IBM is exciting, this part worries me:

    screens of any size are possible with the same depth, but building a thin vacuum panel big enough for a projection screen might not be practical.

    Ack. Think, vacuum panel? Yeah... I'd like to see how that fairs against accidentally being toppled over... ...and don't tell me it won't happen, because it's bound to.
  • These "tubes" accelerate electrons from a cathode the size of the entire screen through a grid of holes with magnets, one hole per pixel.

    Don't you mean one hole per sub-pixel? It would take three of these to make up a pixel, right? (RGB)
  • Disclaimer: I haven't read the linked-to stories, so take this with a grain of salt.

    I hope this technology makes it out into the consumer market and gives LCD panels a run for the money-- my main gripe with LCD panels is that they don't handle non-native resolutions gracefully. But if this is true CRT-like technology, we'll finally have the best of both worlds (great support for various resolutions, and the thin form factor!).

    Plus the other applications for this, high-resolution replacements for television sets, can't be beat. The large plasma displays (which admittedly probably look better than a large CRT would) may have fallen in price, but a large CRT with this new technology would probably be cheaper for the masses.

    Kudos to IBM, let's just hope that the fact that they've gotten a patent on this tech doesn't keep others from using it.

  • I'm still holding on for my OLED Active Display. I can't remember where, but they do have a 19" one already made, but it's only for research...
  • This will be WAY COOL for LAN fests-- LCD's don't work due to refresh rate limitations so now we can reduce the space needed!

    This is gamers' heaven if the technology performs as well as conventional CRTs.

    Sig: Tell all your friends NOT to download the Advanced Ebook Processor:

  • CRTs are great for cost/image resolution, but LCDs and OLED win on power consumption and temperature. This article was a bit light on details for the new IBM tech, but I doubt a CRT can rival LCD and OLED in these categories.

  • Color steerable-beam CRT's have to run the beam at a few thousand volts to get it to stay focused as it is scanned around the screen. This gives the electrons enough energy to create soft x-rays when they hit the phosphors. So they have to melt lead oxide into the front glass, and also put some lead around the sides.

    At any rate, this system shouldn't need lead shielding. If I understand it, it forms many little beams (one per pixel), which are not steered and travel less than an inch. So it should only need a few volts to operate, and the most powerful photons that can form will be ultraviolet, which is easily stopped by many kinds of lead-free glass or by the opaque back cover.

    IMHO, lead from electronics is far from my greatest worry about landfills. (I am not a chemist, but I do know a few things.) Metallic lead only dissolves in acids, and lead glass from CRT's should be even less soluble. There are also a few ounces of 63% lead solder in a typical computer, but people have lived with much larger quantities of lead for millenia and usually avoided poisoning themselves. There is at least 2,000 years of history for lead pipes for drinking water (from liners for Roman aquaducts starting before 100BC to American city water systems in the early 1900's). Chances are these lead pipes haven't yet been all replaced in some of our cities -- and in other cities, they ripped them out and tossed them into the nearest landfill... But you won't find lead in the water coming out of a lead pipe unless the water is far more acidic than drinking water ought to be. Landfills might be more likely to have acid groundwater, but they ought to be ensuring that acid water doesn't leak out anyhow -- and when the acidity is neutralized, the lead compounds drop out of solution and don't travel any further. I'd worry more about the more unusual metals being touted as replacements for lead in solder -- some of them have never been widely used before, and there are probably things we don't know and won't know until too many people have been exposed to them for 20 years...

  • This picture kind of brings on the "Duh, why didn't I think of that?" feeling. It seems so obvious now that someone else has thought it up for me. Anyway, I want one!

  • Nope, it's one hole per pixel, as shown in this picture [].

    (link to picture was stolen from a previous post by someone else, so if moderators are thinking of modding me up, go find the original and mod him up)
  • Since when did an abundance of choices become a problem. I am thrilled at this. Give me more choices and Damn the 'One Size Fits All' mentality.
    If I had a choice between getting a product spoon fed to me or having to maany "confusing options" then give me confusion or give me death.
    Choice is good!
  • I don't like my CRTs flat. I prefer them to have soft curves and buoyancy... wait, what where we talking about again?
  • I hope this technology makes it out into the consumer market and gives LCD panels a run for the money-- my main gripe with LCD panels is that they don't handle non-native resolutions gracefully.

    That may be true, but in reality every screen size has an 'ideal' resolution. It's nice to be able to play around with resolutions, but when you want to work, there's is usually one ideal resolution that's best for the specific screen size.

    Furthermore, LCD's have some pro's when compared to CRT's:

    - no harmful radiation (CRT stands for Cathode Ray Tube, LCD just uses some backlighting with 'normal' light)

    - lends itself perfectly for even better font smoothing (like the ClearType smoothing in, sorry I have to say, Windows XP)

    On the other hand, CRT's are still better in color handling. Although the LCD on my sony picturebook gives WAY better image and color than my 6 year old 17" CTX monitor, in print shops CRT's still seem to only way (high end CRT's, that is, not the $250 crap 17" monitors you can get everywhere nowadays).

  • Despite the move to "digital" and paper-less (which doesn't seem to produce less paper, oddly) we still find ourselves often scrapping for desk space. Our current standard of 15" and 17" CRTs requires quite a bit of space; especially in terms of the depth of the units -- in some cases our people have little or not choice in where to put their monitor because they have cabinets or other furniture in the way. A flat/thin screen means many valuable inches of saved space for us.

    Needless to say I'm curious to see these hit our local VARs and at what prices.


  • That sounds like it might be akin to CD players vs. turntables. Next thing you know, we'll be saying CRTs have "warmer" color.
  • At a "job fair" for beta (physics, math, chemist, biology) students here at my university in Holland I talked to some employees of Philips (a dutch electronics company). They mentioned that most companies where still innovating CRT technologies, although LCD is considered to be the future.

    They also mentioned (and that's most important), that most companies do have (possibly very) short CRT tubes, but that the heat is the biggest problem. Ever since CRT's started burning (in standby mode e.g.) sporadically, companies are very affraid of bringing new technologies to the market that might have a slight heat problem.

    One burning television/ monitor is enough to "kill" a brand, and all the bad publicity that it brought with it is enough to frighten these companies to not sell these CRTs.

    These employees didn't actually work for the CRT department, so I can't verify if there really is a risk of "overheating", but the problem seemed plausible.

  • Doesn't this end up meaning that we are back in the land of only certain "blessed" resolutions being well supported? An earlier posting was hoping that these new CRTs would makeup for one of the short coming of LCDs -- that they don't handle other resolutions well. If these flat CRTs are using a matrix of guns I suspect that we'll be limited to the resolution provided, or crude approximations when using non-standard ones. Of course, I wouldn't mind being "limited" to 3200x2400 on a nice flat 3' screen.

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard