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Written by Olin Coles   
Friday, 22 October 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
3D Platform Wars: NVIDIA vs AMD vs HDTV
NVIDIA's Official Response
AMD's Official Response

3D Platform Wars: NVIDIA 3D Vision vs AMD HD3D vs 3D HDTV

AMD's HD3D platform now competes with NVIDIA 3D Vision, and both are threatened by 3D-HDTVs - with and without eyewear.

There's change in the wind, and nobody's really sure which way it will blow. 3D technology, once the land of red and blue, has matured through the years and now offers several new platform choices - some of which won't even require eyewear. Not many people will give NVIDIA the full credit of bringing 3D technology into the mainstream, but if there was a pioneer to be named they've certainly earned the title. Developed on years of stereoscopic vision research, NVIDIA released their first retail product at the tail end of 2008, branded GeForce 3D Vision. The past two years have grown this technology into a central feature, exclusive to their GeForce graphics product line, further evolving into a triple-display capability they've dubbed 3D Vision Surround. From many perspectives, it's appeared that NVIDIA has been the name behind 3D technology, especially in terms of 3D gaming, but the truth is that it's become a rather crowded market.

After NVIDIA helped to make 3D a marketable platform through partnerships with Samsung and ViewSonic, 3D interest took off like wildfire. Considering how well HDTVs were received by the consumer market, especially after the digital television transition, nobody could justify a 3D technology relegated only to the limited dimension of compatible 120Hz monitors and 3D gaming. Compatible 3D TV platforms paired with stereoscopic technology helped fuel a surge in 3D HDTV demand, giving life to 3D DVD and 3D Blu-ray media through new disc players and HTPC software tools from companies such as CyberLink. This is how platform wars begin, and NVIDIA's 3D Vision technology sits in the eye of an unpredictable storm.

If you analyze NVIDIA's 3D Vision gaming platform for the PC, there are three components that make up the foundation. First and foremost is a modern GeForce graphics solution (8800 series or newer), followed next by 3D Vision software packaged with Forceware graphics drivers, and completed with 3D Vision shutter glasses and USB emitter. Thanks to HDMI 1.4 frame packing, GeForce 8800 series and higher GPUs have always had the capability to play 3D DVD and 3D Blu-ray movies without 3D Vision, so long as compatible software application from CyberLink, ArcSoft, Roxio, or Corel were used with a 3D TV that came bundled with 3D glasses. But gaming on the big screen remained a problem until NVIDIA 3DTV Play software became available.

All current 120Hz 3D monitors include support for digital dual-link DVI connections, and because they avoid proprietary eyewear there's a dependence on NVIDIA's 3D Vision kit. This bodes well for gamers on the PC platform who use a monitor, but many would like to enjoy the gaming experience on a larger display. HDTVs have become warmly accepted into most homes, allowing entire families to share in the high-definition experience through standard HDMI connectivity. Before NVIDIA 3DTV Play software became available, this had been 3D Vision's undoing because most 3D HDTVs include proprietary eyewear - thus removing NVIDIA's shutter glasses from the shopping cart. In many respects, NVIDIA 3DTV Play software could transform 3D Vision into an open-market gaming technology that merely requires a GeForce video card.

As it turns out, 3D HDTVs would not be the last threat to NVIDIA's 3D Vision platform, because the company's closest rival has now joined into the fray with their own AMD HD3D branded 3D technology. This strategic move could potentially cut into NVIDIA's 3D gaming market share, and possibly weaken their hold on compatible monitors. Both brands compete in the same market space, supporting 3D TVs and monitors for PC video game and movie playback, but there are benefits to each. NVIDIA develops their GeForce graphics cards for Dual-Link DVI 120Hz monitors or 3D-Ready HDTVs via HDMI, while AMD offers these same outputs with the addition of DisplayPort (DP) connectivity on their ATI Radeon product line. Although AMD's Radeon 5000-series supports 3D gaming, the Radeon 6000-series UVD3 feature further extends functionality with efficient many-core GPU-based MVC decoding as opposed to using fewer cores with a CPU. Either manufacturer's platform drives a single 3D display just fine, but multi-display 3D narrows the field.

Stereo 3D and 3D Surround are only possible with NVIDIA 3D Vision technology. Using a NVIDIA GeForce desktop video card. two dual-link DVI ports can drive stereo 3D displays. Triple-monitor ‘surround' configurations require more attention. NVIDIA's 3D Vision Surround technology spreads itself over three displays, all via dual-link DVI, and requires two matching GeForce video cards configured into an SLI set. While a second graphics card certainly adds to the cost of a 3D multi-display setup, it also boosts the graphical processing power the system requires for high-quality 3D games over multiple displays. Stereo 3D and 3D Vision Surround are enthusiast choices, and certainly not the standard.

In terms of 3D playback on HDTVs, each solution achieves the same goal in different ways. NVIDIA offers their 3DTV Play software to 3D Vision owners at no cost, while AMD defers this portion of their 3D business to exclusive middleware partners such as TriDef (Dynamic Digital Depth) who charge a premium for their software. Alternatively, GeForce users can purchase NVIDIA 3DTV Play for $40 and play content on their 3D-Ready TV without the need for a 3D Vision kit. Each option clearly has benefits over the other, but they both remain very territorial. AMD's talking point has recently been that NVIDIA 3D Vision is a closed technology that requires their self-produced eyewear and IR emitter, which is untrue. NVIDIA have been very selective with outside business opportunities to produce their shutter glasses, but this is because 3DTV Play software openly allows 3D televisions to utilize the manufacturer's own bundled eyewear. This is no different than AMD encouraging eyewear designers such as Oakley to develop and license their own 3D solutions, which they've done convincingly well I'll add, or using TriDef middleware to enable 3D gaming on the Radeon video cards in a fashion similar to NVIDIA 3DTV Play.

Since NVIDIA and AMD essentially share equal ground in regard to 3D HDTV functionality, the fight then turns to 3D gaming. AMD has enjoyed a significant head-start on DirectX-11 graphics and owns the majority DX11 market share, but in the realm of 3D gaming it's NVIDIA that holds the advantage. Games branded with The Way It's Meant To Be Played and 3D Vision Ready come optimized for 3D, specifically 3D Vision. By depending on middleware providers such as TriDef and iZ3D, it appears that AMD is relinquishing their duty to invest in 3D game optimizations and deferring it to their partners. These optimizations make a big difference, and working directly with the game developer can yield impressive 3D payback. For example, we recently discovered that the performance impact can be reduced to as little as 11% in 3D-optimized video games.

It seems doubtful that middleware vendors will finance development of 3D optimizations to the extent that NVIDIA already does, leaving dependant AMD HD3D technology to deliver less impressive special effects. Of course, being open-source helps to enlist the resources of others at no cost. AMD's quad-buffer 3D API is open source, and available to developers for free. While this might immediately challenge NVIDIA's grip on 3D, with enough time and interest it could potentially exceed it. NVIDIA licenses their 3D API, and charges a premium to partners wanting access to their quad-buffer stereo drivers. This also limits the number of developers willing or able to pay the fees, whether they're fair or not, such as we've seen with Zalman's 3D technology.

And so it begins: a 3D platform war. Will it be NVIDIA 3D Vision, AMD HD3D, or one of the many proprietary HDTV-eyewear combinations? Will it be none of these at all, and possibly allow Toshiba's eyewear-free Toshiba's perpendicular lenticular LCD solution to thrive? I've got a lot of hope for something closer to the latter because it would finally enable people with corrective lenses to participate in the excitement, but the out-of-screen results coming from the former are far more impressive. We're just reaching the front lines of this war, which means there's a long fight coming ahead for 3D technology. Money decides everything, both in terms of product value and profit margin, forcing consumers to battle manufacturers at the same time that these companies are waging their own wars with each other. In the mean time, I'm going to enjoy them all, and share my experience with you.



# RE: 3D Platform Wars: NVIDIA vs AMD vs HDTVJack 2010-10-21 19:24
I cannot even find the quad buffer API on AMD's developer's website!
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# no compatabilityJack Two 2010-11-02 14:43
This is what really bugs me..Supposing you invest in the 120hz 3d vision monitors, it works for for the pc for sure. Plug in a PS3 which is now 3d capable, games, blue ray just ready to go, and will it work? er no. Why Not? Nobody it seems can give a plausible answer, the monitors are 120hz, they have hdmi prolly the wrong sort, but again why? ...Deeply deeply frustrating.
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# RE: no compatabilityOlin Coles 2010-11-02 14:46
Here's why: the monitor doesn't come with paired glasses, and depends on NVIDIA 3D Vision, which the Sony PS3 does not support. If there was a monitor out there that came with its own glasses, it would work with the PS3.
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# RE: no compatabilityBrian 2011-03-08 09:26
The current 3D solutions from nvidia require dual link DVI( or there software for viewing on 3D TVs through Hdmi) for enougth bandwidth to deliver 3D Content , the reason older 120Hz Pc displays dont work with the ps3 in 3D(using an Hdmi conection)is the fact the displays dont understand the Hdmi 1.4 3D frame packing format (3D TVs Do)there are now monitors coming on the market that do understand the Hdmi 1.4 3D frame packing they work fine with the ps3 and I will assume those displays will sync the 3D glasses as well or come with an emitter of some sort, I am also assuming Dual link DVI will suport higher resolutions and frame rates then Hdmi 1.4 even with frame packing.
Acer GN245HQ is one of the first pc displays that suports 3D over hdmi and will work with bluray players ps3 etc sure many more to follow.
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# RE: no compatabilityBrian perkins 2011-12-24 18:27
The diffrence is in how the 3D content is delivered to the monitor, 3D vision requires Dual link DVI(and displayport as well soon,( I am told the hdmi interface simply is not fast enougth (HDMI is equivlent to single link DVI) to deliver that much content at that speed and graphics detail, 3D over hdmi is delivered at 24 FPS at 1080P I also told 720 P HDMI can handle 60 FPC, yet no pc gamer wants to set there Resolution that low, there are now monitors on the market that DO suport 3D over HDMI from a PS3 they have been updated to handle 3D over hdmi 1.4 with HDCP suport.
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# RE: no compatabilityJack Two 2010-11-02 15:44
"and depends on NVIDIA 3D Vision,which the Sony PS3 does not support." and no other firm's 3d blue ray player as well. They are charging a huge premium for the 120hz 3d monitors, but the hdmi spec is old (no BR compatible 1.4), and no cheap as chips transmitter in the monitor. I thought, that when the industry came to an agreement on a 3d standard, everyone would fall into line, which helps consumer confidence, but Nvidia comes out with a different standard, Sky and LG, something else, AMD uses 3rd party something else, and ppl dont buy because nothing is compatable.
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# RE: RE: no compatabilityOlin Coles 2010-11-02 15:53
I'm confused by your statement. Are you saying that 120Hz monitors will not support 3D Blu-ray playback, or that 3D Vision does not support it? I've experienced both first hand, so please clarify.
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# RE4Jack Two 2010-11-03 15:15
I'm simply saying that if you plug in a ps3 and try a 3d game or BR it wont work. If you plug in a Samsung, Panasonic or any other 3d BR player, it wont work. I understand that if you have a br drive in your pc, it should work, but i have no proof of this, because afaik, 3d br spec states that you must have hdmi 1.4 for it to work. BTW, my monitor is a crt mitsubishi diamond pro 17", and have 2 pairs of still working 3d shutter glasses. I would just love to upgrade to a nice 24" LCD 120 HZ,but i'm not going to, not untill one of them takes a ps3, and displays it in 3d.
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# RE: RE4Olin Coles 2010-11-03 15:56
If you have a 3D Blu-ray disc movie played on the PS3 and displayed on a 3D HDTV with bundled glasses, it works. If you have a PC with NVIDIA GeForce video card, Blu-ray Disc player, and either 3D HDTV or 120Hz monitor with 3D Vision, it works.

Unlike you, I've conducted tests on both first-hand to confirm this.
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# RE5Jack Two 2010-11-04 14:43
This is going nowhere fast, I totally agree with what you just said. What I'm saying is this, and for the final time: A pc 120hz 3d monitor is not compatable with a ps3 playing 3d games or ps3 3d BR. Also, a pc 120hz 3d monitor is not compatable with any other home cinema BR player. Also a pc 120hz 3d monitor is not compatable with the UK's SKY 3d tv service.
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# RE: RE5Brian perkins 2011-12-24 18:32
Simply stated that was once true , newer 3D capable monitors are out that DO suport HDMI 1.4 and are 3D over HDMI Compatable.
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# RE: 3D Platform Wars: NVIDIA vs AMD vs HDTVOlin Coles 2010-11-04 15:10
OH! Yes, the PS3 won't work with any 120Hz monitors at the moment, because none of them come with bundled 3D glasses. The only other choice is the 3D Vision kit, which doesn't work with the PS3 either.

The problem with 3D Blu-ray over HDMI 1.4a is that it supports 1080p 24Hz, 720p 60Hz, and 720p 50Hz. Although I haven't tested it first-hand, NVIDIA's 3DTV Play software is supposed to fix this (for GeForce video cards). Hopefully 3D BD players will follow.
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# RE: 3D Platform Wars: NVIDIA vs AMD vs HDTVH C Forde 2011-02-03 07:48
Seems like I am late to this party as this thread has been 'dead' for a couple of months.

The real issue is that 120Hz HDTV's and 120Hz computer monitors are VERY diffferent. They are controlled by different regulating entities and 120Hz means diferent things to the both of them. At this point in time ther is no convergence. 120Hz monitors can accept a 120Hz signal from outside sources. A 120Hz TV creates the 120Hz internally from the 60HZ signal it is limited to from outside devices by creating additional frames. Why 120HZ? because it is equally divisible by 24frames and 30(29.97)frames which are standards set by the TV and film industry. Computer monitors are NOT regulated by the same standards.
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# RE: 3D Platform Wars: NVIDIA vs AMD vs HDTVBrian 2011-12-24 14:22
I had 3d 10 years ago atleast.. The old crt monitors had no problems displaying well above 120hz
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# 3d 120hzJames 2012-01-03 22:51
Just got a Toshiba 42inch 3D TV/monitor with for sets of polarized glasses. Excellent even has great net TV also. It produces a real 120hz and produces 240hz internally and runs all 3D over HDMI just fine including frame packing 3D. It uses built in tridef to create instant 2d to 3d conversion of any content even works on old movies and games and 3d worlds that are not stereoscopic making them true 3d. Even polarized glasses I got from watching 3d movies at imax and the movies work fine. So ps3, nvidia and amd systems should all work fine.

Also from talking to amd any monitor with 120hz and a 1.4 or above HDMI will work.
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# RE: 3D Platform Wars: NVIDIA vs AMD vs HDTVH C Forde 2012-01-04 20:27
Sounds too good to be true that it will work in gaming 3D from Nvidia or AMD. What is the model number of this TV? It would seem that it would have made a big splash bit nothing is being said. Using Tridef internally sounds promising though.
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