ATI Radeon Finally Supports Stereoscopic 3D Output

ATI's Stereo 3D Solution Requires Proprietary Hardware and Software

by Anton Shilov
03/24/2010 | 11:50 PM

ATI, graphics business unit of Advanced Micro Devices, on Wednesday finally released its new Catalyst 10.3 driver that enables third-party providers of stereo 3D solutions to output stereoscopic three-dimensional images using ATI Radeon HD graphics cards. While ATI customers will not officially be able to enjoy stereo 3D, the options suggested by the graphics chips designer are not truly flexible.

 

“AMD has updated its Direct3D (Quad buffer support) driver to enable 3rd party middleware vendors, such as DDD and iZ3D, to output stereo L/R images at 120Hz (60Hz per eye),” a statement from ATI reads.

Even though the move formally allows ATI Radeon HD to support stereo 3D, just like Nvidia GeForce with 3D Vision technology, the solution is less flexible since it generally relies on proprietary technologies. In order to enjoy stereoscopic 3D gaming or to convert 2D movies to stereo 3D formats, users of ATI Radeon HD graphics cards will have to acquire third-party hardware and software.

Stereo 3D solution from DDD requires a special 3D starter pack ($199) that includes two pairs of wireless 3D active shutter glasses, one 3D transmitter, a CD containing the TriDef 3D Experience software for Windows XP/Vista/7 and an activation code for the TriDef 3D Experience. In addition, end-users need to own an output device supported by DDD, the list of which at present is generally limited to various HDTVs as well as one Hyundai P240W 24” display for whopping $2199. Even though the software from DDD automatically converts video games to stereo 3D format, for the best possible experience the company recommends to download special profiles for new games.

iZ3D’s stereoscopic solution is relatively well known. It requires a proprietary 22” monitor (1680x1050, 5ms, 60Hz, 700:1) from iZ3D which costs $349 which comes with two pairs of proprietary polarized glasses. In fact, iZ3D also offers to output 3D content for viewing in shutter glasses, but for that end-users will have to pay $49. While the latter option seems to be rather interesting, since iZ3D does not provide a list of compatible 3D glasses and displays, it seems that it is still limited to the company’s very own display.

Even though Nvidia Corp.’s 3D Vision stereo 3D technology is not ideal for a number of reasons, necessity to use proprietary 3D active shutter glasses and relatively limited compatibility with output devices are just two of them, it does guarantee acceptable stereo 3D gaming experience verified by the developer of the graphics processors. Meanwhile, AMD’s approach not only requires to use proprietary active shutter glasses (along with an HDTV) or even a proprietary combination of a monitor and glasses, but also delegates tailoring of actual games and the quality of end-user experience to a respective third-party company.