In March, d3 Technologies released their new flagship hardware, the d3 4x4 Pro. The 4x4 Pro blows the previous d3 and many other media servers out of the water on multiple fronts. The biggest advance is the support of 4K resolution. the 4x4 Pro is not the first media server to support 4K resolution, but it’s capable of 4 outputs of 4K (hence the name) which is an insane amount of power.
The previous d3 hardware, the 4U v2.5, supported four full HD outputs. The connector itself was DisplayPort so you always ended up with a pile of DisplayPort to DVI adapters. The 4x4 Pro offers removable cards to get the specific outputs you want. If you are looking for full 4K resolution from an output, there are two options: DisplayPort 1.2 or HDMI 1.4. If you are not looking for 4K resolution, each output can be split into 4 HD outputs, allowing 16 HD outputs on one machine. These outputs can be either SDI or DVI. You can also get a multipurpose card, which allows the use of either DisplayPort 1.2, Dual Link DVI (not 4K) or HDMI 1.4.
Many of the specs also received a power boost. There is now a 10Gbps ethernet port. The v2.5 supported 12 layers of HD; this machine supports 8 layers of 4K video across all outputs, which translates to 2 layers of 4K per output if you want to “Push Every Pixel®”. USB 3.0 finally makes its way onto a d3.
The hull of the machine is now more rugged. The previous version was just a rack-mounted PC, so the connections in the back weren’t as clean as they could be and required several adapters to get the desired connectors. The 4x4 Pro has everything laid out very cleanly. Everything is now in a custom box, all connections are cleanly spaced.
In addition to the 4x4 Pro hardware, the machine runs the new 11.2 software that packs in several new features. One of the long-awaited features added to the system (addressing a big complaint of many users) is dmx console control. Named “SockPuppet DMX”, the feature allows many options. You can go the console route and have near-complete control of the server by the console. You can also build a hybrid setup between timeline cueing and console control. The feature allows you to make any layer dmx controllable. It will even create MA2 profiles for you automatically. Most, if not all, DMX controlled media servers lock you into one or a few DMX profiles. Since this system is modular, you can easily build it to your exact specifications. 11.2 also offers HTML5 support, which opens the door to a wealth of opportunities, whether it’s as simple as a website or an intricate interactive application.
The 4x4 Pro take a large step forward just as its predecessor was starting to feel a bit out of date. The step forward is much farther than many would have expected, especially when you combine it with the new 11.2 software, it becomes a force to be reckoned with.