3D Gaming Steps a Little Closer

3D gaming Nvidia style could be closer than you think, with the Taiwanese rumour mill claiming the Green Goblin has given EMS provider Flextronics the task of manufacturing its ‘soon to be released’ GeForce 3D stereo glasses. According to whisperings from DigiTimes’ secret sauces, the 3D specs have already passed design validation tests (DVT) and should be ready to ship before year’s end.

DigiTimes went on to claim that once launched, the 3D specs would be offloaded to just one distributor in every market zone, so as to hamper price competition. Taiwanese tongues also wagged that system integrators (SI) – especially those in China and South Korea – would be the main target.

We put this to Nvidia’s Andrew Fear - Product Manager for SLI and Stereoscopic 3D – and he noted that whilst he couldn’t comment in depth on a product which has yet to be officially unveiled, Nvidia always tries - with the exception of its Quadro and Tegra products - to maximise the breadth of where users can buy its products. He claimed, therefore, it would make little, if any, sense for Nvidia to limit itself to just SI’s.

Next Fear addressed DigiTimes’ claim that the GeForce Stereoscopic 3D glasses would only be currently supported by a Mitsubishi 73-inch 3D Ready 1080p DLP TV. Fear noted this wasn’t strictly true as there were, in fact, three different types of displays which supported the 3D glasses, including old Analog CRT 100+ Hz monitors.

Also, several different models of Mitsubishi 1080p DLP Home Theater TVs, not just the 73 inch screeners, supported the specs, including the WD-57833, WD-60735, WD-60C8, WD-65735, WD-65736, WD-65C8, WD-65833, WD-65835, WD-73735, WD-73736, WD-73833, WD-73835, WD-73C8 and L65-A90. Thirdly, both Samsung and ViewSonic are set to unveil their 120 Hz LCD offerings very shortly indeed.

So, while “pure 120 Hz monitors” would, according to Nvidia, certainly provide a superior gaming experience, those monitors are not the only ones which support the Stereoscopic 3D specs. This is probably a good thing, seeing as sources in the graphics card industry don’t reckon ViewSonic will start mass production of its monitors until January 2009.

But Neil Schneider, President and CEO of Meant to be Seen, told the INQ he didn’t think it would be correct to measure the success of Nvidia’s 3D glasses launch based on current screen support alone.

“Yes, there will be a limited number of 120Hz displays in the market to start with, and there will be a waiting period for more LCD panels to go the route of high refresh rates like the Viewsonic, or enough gamers hooking their PCs up to 3D DLP HDTVs”, noted Schneider. However, he added, even if only an initially small number of gamers benefited from 3D game immersion, the 3D glasses sales would still positively impact Nvidia’s GPU core business as S-3D would mean more frequent graphics card updates.

We told Andrew Fear that Digitimes was claiming the predicted high price of stereoscopic 3D glasses would prove a major hurdle in their take-up rate amongst gamers. Fear laughed and quipped, “Why? Is $2,000 a lot?”. He went on to note that he, of course, couldn’t comment on pricing except to say that Nvidia’s specs were made to a particularly high quality of design and included larger lenses than other 3D specs on the market, being the only lenses which could work with 120 Hz screens. He added that, also unlike others on the market, Nvidia’s specs fitted over prescription glasses, as well as being wireless and USB rechargeable.

“I don’t think they’re going to be ‘highly priced’, I think they will have a fair price in the market,” Fear concluded.

We then put it to Fear that the price of the glasses in themselves might not be staggeringly high, but what of the new 120 Hz monitor to accompany them? Fear answered that gamers would probably want to invest in a 120 HZ monitor regardless of whether or not they were interested in the 3D aspect, due to the monitors’ faster refresh rates and the superior gaming experience such screens provided.

And as for games? Fears reckons because Nvidia’s stereoscopic technology works with standard games, there’s no need to spend extra cash buying specially adapted 3D ones. “Our driver technology can just work automatically with standard games” noted Fear, citing FarCry2 and Assassin’s Creed as examples.

AMD, meanwhile, are not sitting quietly on the sidelines. Nvidia’s rival has teamed up with iZ3D LLC and is developing its own non-proprietary driver software and support for 3D monitors, HDTVs, and head mounted displays. The firm has also joined hands with Blitz Games and Meant to be Seen to poll gamers on what they think of stereoscopic 3D tech and its potential in videogames. Gamers who can be bothered to take part in the poll will be bribed with the promise of prizes from the likes of The Game Creators, Guild Software and iZ3D.

By Sylvie Barak, The Inquirer