START TYPING KEYWORDS TO SEARCH OUR WEBSITE

So many pixels… so little time

Posted: 09.15.08

Having been dazzled by four days of dancing delightful pixels in LA at Siggraph, I then took a shower and went to San Francisco to continue the consumption of pixels and information at IDF. Another shower and then off to Palo Alto for pixels and cores, lots of both (burp). Skipping the shower, I rushed to join the rest of the JPR team at the inaugural Nvision conference in San Jose—a three-week smorgasbord of west coast pixelarity.

Pixels, we’re immersed in them about 17-7-365. From the really big cinema screen, to the living room HDTV screen and the work/play computer screen, down to the tiny handheld screen that is either a phone, the display of a digital camera, a portable DVD player, TV, or a GPS device. In addition to all those personal pixel blasts on our overworked cornea, we are visually abused by digital signage in airports, shopping centers, Las Vegas city streets, and gasoline pumps. So many pixels, SO many pixels.

How many?

Let’s start with us. How many pixels can we process? It’s not an exact number, but if we assume our general response time is 30Hz and that there are 120 million rods and six-million cones in each eye, then that’s 252 million potential pixels sampling 30 times a second, which give us a 7.6 billion pixels/sec processing capacity.

  2007 M units shipped PixelsM Pixel/year
TV
199
480,000
95,520,000
PC
293
1,310,720
384,040,960
HH
1850
76,800
142,080,000
Projectors
4
786,432
3,145,728
Signage
1.9
1,152,000
2,188,800
LED panels
5
900
4,500
Total
626,979,988

All those pixels get pumped through our 12 paired cranial optical nerves where the impulses get dumped into the visual cortex in the occipital lobe of the brain. Just as a reference point, if you had a display that filled your visual field of view (assume a 30-inch monitor in a dark room) then you’d be getting fed 124 million pixels a second, so we’ve got capacity to spare—or do we?

Every year, we build and ship zillions of pixel-generating devices from LED clusters, to plasma tubes, LCDs, and CRTs. Did you ever stop to think how many pixels actually ship a year? Well it’s difficult to get a total total count, but I took a shot at it.

Six-hundred twenty-six trillion pixels shipped in 2007! And that’s probably conservative. My estimate is there are over five quadrillion (5x1015) pixels being pumped out every day.

Pixels? Bring em on

And if we assume half the world’s population of 6.6 billion people are seeing these pixels with their 7.6 billion pixel-per-second processing bandwidth, then all of them combined represent a pixel-processing capacity of 25 quintillionpixels per second, (25 x1018) and that leaves us with more than enough capacity to soak up all the TV, signage, PC, and other pixels being blasted at us every waking minute of everyday.

So bring it on display industry, give us your best shot.

Now, if only 1% of those pixels had any real value or meaning, then we’d have to calculate our ability to consume information, thank goodness for soaps and popups.