It seems like ATI and NVIDIA have taken two different approaches to the future of displays on the PC. ATI makes big, multi-monitor setups easier and NVIDIA enables 3D games on one main display. Sapphire, a board partner for ATI, has come along and said, “Why not both?”
We’ve seen 3D come along in a many different form factors, and from many different manufacturers. Typically, it’s only limited to a single screen. NVIDIA has put up a few demos using multiple monitor setups, usually at places such as CES, but it hasn’t been shown off in a commercially viable form. The glasses, which use an active shutter setup, are also pretty expensive in the NVIDIA model.
In the photograph above, the setup is using Zalman’s Trimon 3D displays. All three are being powered with just one Sapphire card, combining 3D tech with ATI’s Eyefinity technology – their term for running multiple displays off of a single card. What’s most interesting about the 3D form factor that Sapphire’s using is that it doesn’t require expensive glasses. Instead, it uses the cheap polarized lenses seen more commonly inside movie theaters.
As a result, multiple people can watch 3D content without having to buy multiple pairs of glasses that cost up to $150 each. The downside, naturally, is that instead of just relying on any monitor capable of 120Hz input, glasses like this will require monitors like the Zalman Trimon above, which have polarizing tech built into the unit itself.
Which technology is better? That’s hard to say; NVIDIA’s is certainly more flexible, while Sapphire’s (ATI cards support a number of different 3D technologies) is probably cheaper over the long term. Hopefully we’ll see more monitors – and more cards – coming out that support multiple different 3D technologies; that way, the consumers have more choice.