NVIDIA shows 3D tech at EG Expo

"Gaming is where 3D will become popular."

NVIDIA used the London leg of the Eurogamer Expo to show off its 3D technology, available now for PCs, in a series of packed sessions. Batman: Arkham Asylum and Need for Speed: SHIFT running in big-screen 3D took centre stage, but there was also an amazing demonstration of 3D photography using a new Fuji camera.

Although 3D is the latest fad in cinemas, NVIDIA representative Ben predicted that gaming PCs would be the real beachhead for 3D entertainment. "Gaming is where 3D will become very popular first," he said, but admitted that in order to do that, it would need one thing above all others: game support.

To that end, NVIDIA has ensured back-compatibility with some 400 titles, including mega-hits World of Warcraft and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. But it was newer games made specifically for 3D vision, with extra effects, that the company wanted to highlight at the Expo.

NVIDIA mentioned that full 3D support has now been patched into Burnout Paradise, while Capcom's Resident Evil 5 has the honour of being the very first made-for-3D PC game. In fact, the Japanese company is a particular fan of the technology, and its forthcoming jetpack shooter Dark Void has been picked as an ideal candidate for 3D support.

EA has committed to full 3D in all its menus, never mind the games - as was apparent from the typically swish front-end for SHIFT. Racing games are a natural candidate for 3D, of course, and SHIFT's dramatic in-car view was even more powerful in 3D, the dash in the foreground accentuating the depth effects on the track and rival cars.

The Scarecrow boss battle in Batman: Arkham Asylum, meanwhile, threw around dozens of scraps of paper and even the game's impressive volumetric fog effects in full 3D. "This kind of business on the screen simply is not possible on consoles," Ben NVIDIA said. "You just don't have the power."

That said, he was keen to point out that any reasonably well-specified current gaming PC - GeForce 8800 series graphics cards and above - should be capable of running 3D vision. Beyond that, you'd need a compatible 120Hz monitor and NVIDIA's powered, active 3D glasses (which are said to provide a more comfortable long-term viewing experience and more precise image than the inactive plastic glasses used in cinemas and for the presentation).

NVIDIA also stressed that 3D games would run in full HD at high frame-rates. "It was really important that we didn't take anything away," Ben NVIDIA said. "I'm sure you've seen some recent cinema releases in 3D where you see some blurriness at the edges - that's because the resolution is halved." If you had a 120Hz monitor and NVIDIA's glasses, that wouldn't happen, he said.

Other applications for a 3D-capable PC include film - NVIDIA showed some amazing 3D motor racing footage shot at the Nurburgring - and photography. The latter is possible via a just-announced compact digital camera from Fuji with two lenses, spaced like human eyes. A shot of the Expo crowd queuing by the Thames was shown, with impressive depth effects on the crowd and the bridges on the distance.

As for the future of 3D vision, it will be supported by NVIDIA's new chip architecture, due next year, which has 3 billion transistors ("it's really complicated to make") and supports DirectX 11, PhysX and 3D out of the box.

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