AMD Takes Open Approach to HD3D

AMD thinks the best way to assemble a stereoscopic 3D PC gaming rig is to pick all the parts yourself.

To that end, the chipmaker is launching HD3D, an answer to NVidia's 3D Vision technology that takes an open approach to software and hardware support. AMD already supports 3D in some of its graphics cards, but HD3D is more of a philosophy for how AMD will treat the technology. And for the most part, that philosophy comes down to the kind of glasses you'll use.

NVidia is firmly backing active shutter glasses -- the battery-powered specs that shift between your left and right eyes to create the 3D effect -- and the only glasses you can get for 3D Vision are made by NVidia. AMD graphics cards will support all kinds of 3D, including passive polarized and eventually glasses-free displays, and it has no plans to produce its own eyewear. That job will go out to third-parties for consumers to choose on their own.

Suddenly, Oakley's recent announcement of high-end polarized 3D glasses seems clearer. At an AMD press event in Los Angeles last week, Oakley Chief Executive Colin Baden showed off the glasses' high-wrap lenses and three-point fit. With AMD, Oakley will have a bigger market for home use.

Passive 3D requires a different kind of monitor than active shutter, and AMD already pledges to support passive displays from Zalmon Trimon and iZ3D, with more to come. It's not clear whether AMD will support existing 3D monitors, such as those from Samsung and Acer, but probably not, because they're intended for use with Nvidia 3D Vision glasses. Most 3D televisions, all of which use active shutter, should work fine using their own proprietary eyewear.

Software makers also professed their love for AMD's open approach at the recent press event. DDD, for instance, will offer discounts on its TriDef software, which converts 2D games, photos and videos into 3D. Technically, TriDef works with NVidia graphics cards, but with Nvidia pushing its own conversion with 3D Vision, DDD doesn't have much traction. TriDef supports active and passive 3D, and has already appeared in a couple of AMD 3D laptops.

To tie this whole ordeal together, AMD plans to launch a website at AMD.com/HD3D. It'll serve as a resource for setting up a home 3D gaming rig, with a list of supported products and the aforementioned discounts from AMD's partners.

The details on HD3D coincide with the launch of AMD's Radeon HD 6800 series graphics cards. They'll be the company's first to support 3D Blu-ray decoding, and they're step ahead of NVidia with HDMI 1.4a hardware support for television connections. NVidia's cards require intermediate 3DTV Play software, as seen Dell's new XPS laptops.

Laptops, of course, won't have the same do-it-yourself approach as desktops with AMD graphics cards. Down the line, expect more 3D laptop bundles like the ones we've already seen.

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