ATI has been talking about their upcoming stereoscopic 3D support utilizing 120Hz LCD monitors and active shutter glasses for quite some time already, and although we expected a complete working solution as early as this summer, things did not work out so well. So now, according to an interview with ATI made by Digital Versus we are going to wait a few more months (second half of the year), but we should see the complete working solution before the end of the year, maybe just in time for Christmas.
Now when talking about openness, ATI is open to supporting different standards and hardware, along with middleware software, but in the end you will most likely be required to have an AMD/ATI-based video card in order to use one such solution. This is of course normal, as ATI will want to sell you their hardware as well as Nvidia does, to use when watching any kind of stereo 3D content. So although ATI in general seems to be more open, the end results seems to be not that different than what Nvidia is doing with their 3D Vision product. You can say that a really open approach is what companies like iZ3D and DDD are doing with their drivers/software that do support multiple stereoscopic 3D solutions and work on all video cards, no matter if they are based on ATI or Nvidia GPUs. What we actually need are standards that will allow interoperability and the users will not have to think now do I have a compatible video card for that solution, or will this 3D monitor work for me or not, or what shutter glasses should I get.
And example that I’ve been seeing a lot lately of not having good interoperability that is confusing the users and making them wonder why is the fact that they cannot use their 3D-capable monitors and 3D DLP projectors to display 3D content from their PlayStation 3 console. The reason for that being that the PS3 sends the stereo 3D signal to a 3D capable display according to the HDMI 1.4(a) stereo 3D specifications and not a single one of the 120Hz 3D LCD monitors is capable of understanding and displaying 3D content sent this way. Of course you need to buy a 3D HDTV to play stereo 3D games from your PS3 console, but then again you’ll also have to buy a 120Hz 3D LCD monitor for your PC, as you will currently also have trouble connecting and using your new 3D HDTV to your PC. So being an early adopter has its advantages, but also comes with a lot of disadvantages and trying to cover more things and work with more partners like ATI does not only means bigger delays, but might as well mean more problems.
If you take a look at how much time the 3D Vision has been available on the market already and how Nvidia is having trouble to convince the hardware and software manufacturers to work on products that support it, not to mention that for more than a year and a half the software and hardware support is still far from being perfect. Now imagine what will be the situation when ATI’s complete stereoscopic 3D solution finally becomes available… I expect a lot of issues to be present at first and it will take some time for all of these to be fixed, and that is something that everyone of the early adopters of 3D Vision is well aware of. Now the 3D Vision already has a lot of users, has a larger community and this also helps a lot in reporting problem and improving the S3D support of the product. But ATI will need some time before reaching the critical mass of users that will have all the needed hardware and software and users that are willing to experiment, test and report issues, even make optimizations and workarounds for better experience etc.
So although I’m eagerly expecting to see what will ATI offer at the end as their complete stereo 3D ecosystem using shutter glasses (I’m a 3D enthusiast after all), I’m not trying to lie myself that it will be a problem free solution, perfect from the start and much better than what 3D Vision currently offers. Yes, it might be better in some aspects, but I don’t think that it will be that different in terms of overall experience for the users. And finally getting some competition between ATI and Nvidia in the stereo 3D area too may help in faster and better development of the software and hardware needed for that, and let us just hope that ATI will be as active as Nvidia in pushing both software and hardware companies into adding stereo 3D support in their products or releasing new stereo 3D-capable products. After all this can only benefit us, the end users that just want better and more affordable solutions for enjoying stereoscopic 3D content of all kinds, isn’t that right? Not to mention that we do need more stereoscopic 3D content available and in that area things are still moving a bit slowly, especially regarding 3D photo and 3D video, as the situation with games is better. However we also need both ATI and Nvidia to work more closely with the game developers in order for the upcoming games to have better stereoscopic 3D support and thus less or no issues in S3D mode at all, so that playing these will be much more fun… ;)