With the announcement from ATI of their 6xxx series coming later this year, it seemed as if this new launch of graphics cards would be the official means by which ATI adds support for 3D technology to their products. Well, the company is instead taking a different approach and is working to create an open-source 3D standard using HDMI 1.4a and DisplayPort 1.2 to work with 6000, 5000 and possibly even select 4000 series graphics cards.
“We definitely expect that the 5000s will be compatible and we expect that mid/high level 4000s will also be compatible. We don't know this for sure yet. We would not be interested in releasing a solution that would stutter or drop frames," Product Manager of Catalyst Terry Makedon said during an interview.
By using an open source standard (which both have Stereo 3D support built in) you won't see exclusive ATI 3D glasses or monitors, but rather a wide range of products supporting the technology. This is in clear contrast to NVIDIA’s 3D technology, which uses a proprietary (closed) standard and as such requires specific hardware be paired together in order to properly utilize the 3D capabilities.
Along with the video connection standards, ATI is also working with partners to develop cheaper 3D glasses, which can either be synced to the display or driven by a USB emitter. For the time being the details on the glasses have yet to be fully released, but it appears as if ATI would prefer the 3D glasses be supplied by the monitor vendors, again in clear contrast to NVIDIA, which requires the user purchase an expensive $200 3D glasses kit.
“With respect to glasses, we're supporting the idea that the glasses can be synced to the display or driven by a USB emitter connected to the host (computer)," Product Manager Infinity and Stereo 3D Shane Parfitt said. "We're not trying to reduce options down to one solution. We want there to be competition in that respect. We are however working on the idea that glasses can be synced up to the display and display vendors can supply those glasses."
The open source approach ATI is using to add 3D support is very welcome, but it does come with one major drawback: the new standard will not work with current 120Hz monitors using a DVI source. However, once these standards become more readily available, it will open the PC 3D experience to a much wider audience and will even work with televisions using the HDMI 1.4a connection type.
There is not an exact release date yet for when ATI will officially add 3D support to their graphic cards, but both ATI employees in the interview stated it would be sometime in the second half of this year.