How to enable 30-bit color/10-bit per color on Quadro/GeForce?

Updated 09/29/2021 01:11 PM

How to enable 30-bit color/10-bit per color?


When connected to a 30-bit capable monitor on Quadro GPU with driver version 430.39 and Windows 10 RS4 onwards, option would be populated for enabling 30-bit support in NVCPL. User must select desktop color depth SDR 30-bit color along with 10/12 output bpc as shown in image below:

For GeForce this support has started from NVIDA studio driver 431.70 or higher version.

To enable 30 bit on GeForce which don’t have dedicated UI for desktop color depth, user has to select deep color in NVCPL and driver would switch to 30 bit format.

Beginning with NVIDIA driver branch 470, we have added support for different color format and deep color on custom resolutions. To enable desired deep color or color format, first create custom resolution. Note that custom resolution is created with RGB 8bpc by default. Once requested custom resolution is created, go to apply settings on change resolution page and select desired color format/depth as shown below:

Q: I have 10/12 bit display/ TV but I am not able to select 10/12 bpc in output color depth drop down even after selecting use NVIDIA settings on change resolution page.

A: 10/12 bpc need more bandwidth compared to default 8bpc, so there would be cases where we are out of bandwidth to populate 10/12 bpc on NVIDIA control panel. One typical case is using HDMI 2.0 HDR TV which are capable of 10/12bpc but due to Bandwidth limitation of HDMI 2.0 higher color depths are not possible with4k@60hz. To accommodate such cases you can try lowering refresh rate or lowering resolution to get those options.

Q: I have HDMI TV connected, I have lowered the resolution but cannot see 10bpc even though 12 bpc is available.

A: 10bpc over HDMI can be selected on NVIDIA Ampere GPUs. Older NVIDIA GPUs do not support 10bpc over HDMI however you can use 12 bpc to enable 30-bit color.

Q: How can I benefit from "SDR (30 bit color)" option on Quadro or enable 10 bpc output on GeForce?

A: It allows you to use 10 bit (1024 color levels per channel) color values instead of standard 8 bit (255 color levels per channels) in some creator applications, for example Adobe Photoshop, that support 10 bit colors rendering to display. Having 1024 color levels per channel produces visually smooth gradients and tonal variations, as compared to banding clearly visible with 8 bit (256 color levels per channel) output. This is especially important when you work with wide gamut colors (Adobe RGB, DCI-P3) where 8 bit banding would be more pronounced. Important note : for this feature to work the whole display path, starting from the application's display rendering/output, the Windows OS desktop composition (DWM) and GPU output should all support and be configured for 10 bit (or more) processing, if any link in this chain doesn’t support 10 bit (for example most Windows applications and SDR games display in 8 bit) you wouldn’t see any benfit.

Q: What happens under the hood when I enable "SDR (30 bit color)" option on Quadro or enable 10 bpc output on GeForce?

A: Two things – by default Windows OS uses 8 bit desktop composition (DWM) for SDR output (it uses FP16 composition for HDR output), the Nvidia driver/GPU will start composing 10 bit applications windows using 10 bit (or higher) precision independently of DWM, while the rest 8 bit windows, which is the case for Windows desktop and most Windows app, will be composed by OS (DWM) using 8 bit. We will also change color output by the GPU from 8 bit to 10 or 12 bits. This allows us to pass all 1024 color levels per channels from the application to the 10+ bpc supporting display without losing the precision.

Q: Should I always enable 10 bpc output on GeForce or "SDR (30 bit color)" on Quadro, when available?

A: No. Unless you use specific SDR applications that were designed to display colors in 10 bit (for example Adobe Photoshop), you wouldn't see any benefit/difference : if you start with 8 bit application, which are absolute majority of applications on Windows, the 10 bit desktop composition and 10 bit output wouldn't help, you are already limited by 8 bit by the app. Having 10 bit output in these scenarios can actually lead to compatibility issues with some applications and slightly increase system's power draw.

Q: Do "SDR (30 bit color)" option on Quadro or 10 bpc output on GeForce work in HDR output.

A: No , there is no need for that, these option were specifically designed to supported 10 bit workflows on legacy Windows OS (starting from Windows 7) which only supported 8 bit desktop composition, the OS could support 10 bit workflow only in fullscreen exclusive mode there. Starting from Windows 10 Redstone 2 Microsoft has introduced the OS support for HDR, where FP16 desktop composition is used, eliminating 8 bit precision bottleneck. Note, however, that not all HDR displays can render colors sufficiently accurately for professional scenarios while being in HDR mode, you could see that colors are washed out and contrast is wrong.

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