AMD and Acer: it's too early for 3D

Written by Clive Webster

May 12, 2010 // 12:55 p.m.

Tags: #3d #3d-vision #acer #active-3d #amd #avatar #glasses #passive-3d #standards

At a sneak peak of AMD's new range of laptop components, Acer and AMD agreed that it was too early to back 3D at the moment. Both companies blamed the conflicting standards for their lack of commitment to any particular technology. However, Acer did say that 3D was one of the four key technologies that it was looking at for its continued growth – the company overtook HP in the number of laptops sold in the first three months of this year to become the number one laptop manufacturer in terms of units sold. Other technologies under the Acer microscope include HD (and, more specifically, bringing HD capabilities to everything that it makes), Touch and increased battery life.

Gianpierro Morbello, Marketing and Branding Corporate Vide President Acer Group, said that "3D is going to be another important technology, and we as Acer will use that. What is important from our point of view is to make sure that each of these products can talk to each other." He used the example that we're seeing at the moment, with some companies (notably Nvidia, Samsung and Panasonic) using active, switching glasses while the cinemas and other entertainment technology companies are using passive polarised lenses for thie 3D glasses. The two technologies are incompatible, and Acer doesn't want to dive and support one standard only for the other to win as this would leave Acer customers dissatisified.

AMD took the same line, with Nigel Dessau, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, also pointing at the conflicting standards surrounding 3D. This is somewhat odd, as we've seen official AMD/TI demos of 3D using passive glasses. However, Dessau clearly said, "the point was made that we're still early in the standards wars, so what none of us wants to do is stand up and say we're the only standard, because that's never going to work." Dessau cited collaboration with partners as the best way to bring a single standard to 3D that everyone can support. This if fair enough – just look at Toshiba and HD-DVD.

However, the next statement was curious. "When you go to see Avatar, you wear a pair of plastic glasses that cost $3 while the cinema has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a [3D] projector. At home it's going to work probably the other way – you'll buy more expensive glasses but it [3D] will be able to run on cheaper PCs." This sounds like AMD/ATI might get behind Nvidia's 3D Vision standard for home use - or at least opt for the same sort of active shutter glasses.

Dessau rightly pointed out that the current trend of 3D is still very new – the 3D Blu-ray spec has only just released, he said – and he re-emphasised that the various parties involved in 3D needed to work together to get a common standard. This is a familiar line from AMD, which frequently pushes the case for open and common standards for PC technology.

We've seen before that competition between technologies doesn't necessarily mean that the best technology wins (think of BetaMax) and also that sufficient backing behind a proprietary standard can result in de facto adoption by all (Blu-ray being the most recent example). But there's also the question of whether 3D is a fad – while we wait to see whether ATI will back Nvidia's 3D Vision technology or not, let us know your thoughts on 3D and whether it needs more backing from the major companies in the forum.
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