HDMI 1.4 stereo 3D arrives on Xbox 360

Arkham City is first full-res Xbox 360 3D release.

A while back, Eurogamer ran a report revealing that full-resolution stereoscopic 3D using the HDMI 1.4 standard was coming to the Xbox 360. Five months on, Batman: Arkham City is the first shipping game to utilise it.

Previously there has been some confusion as to whether the Xbox 360 hardware is physically capable of carrying the HDMI 1.4 stereoscopic 3D signal. There was some concern that the older HDMI 1.2 standard supported by the Xbox 360 couldn't be extended in the same way that the HDMI 1.3 controller in the PlayStation 3 was repurposed to support the new standard.

However, the release of Batman: Arkham City confirms that from a hardware perspective, any Xbox 360 with an HDMI port can offer the same level of support as the PlayStation 3. Our analysis of the game confirms that the two consoles are both outputting the same 1280x1470 60Hz signal. This comprises of two native 720p images, with 30 lines of blanking information between them.

360-1
ps3-1
Here's how Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 output Batman: Arkham City to 3DTVs. A 1280x1470 framebuffer is utilised, with 720p per eye top and bottom and 30 lines of blanking information between them. This is the first game we've seen to utilise the HDMI 1.4 spec on the Xbox 360.

So how is HDMI 1.4 output possible on older consoles? It turns out that the new standard is rather conservative. A 1280x1470 framebuffer actually requires less bandwidth than native 1080p - and both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 have supported that for ages. Even 3D Blu-Ray movies only run at with the equivalent bandwidth of 1080p at 48 frames per second - well below the 1920x1200/60Hz max of the interface. So HDMI 1.4 support on an HDMI 1.2 console boils down to making the hardware output a custom resolution and nothing more.

In terms of Arkham City itself, the game uses the same TriOviz technology as Gears of War 3 - though the Epic title was restricted to the half-res side-by-side functionality we've seen on other 360 stereo 3D games. Curiously though, while both games seem to be operating at native 720p on both platforms - as we would expect - the Xbox 360 version seems to have a one pixel wide blur across the whole image.

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ps3-2
Another 3D comparison shot of Batman: Arkham City on the Xbox 360 (left) and PlayStation 3. Despite the HDMI 1.4 display format being the same, the Xbox 360 gets a very strange blur added.

While TriOviz still uses the reprojection technology to extrapolate two images from one main render, the algorithm has advanced significantly since its debut in the GOTY edition of Batman: Arkham Asylum, and has far fewer reprojection artifacts than what we saw in the Enslaved Pigsy's Perfect Ten DLC, which featured an earlier version of the TriOviz tech for 3DTVs. We'll be talking to the creators of TriOviz in more depth shortly, and discussing the 3D effect in our upcoming Batman: Arkham City Face-Off.

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About the author

Richard Leadbetter

Richard Leadbetter

Technology Editor, Digital Foundry  |  digitalfoundry

Rich has been a games journalist since the days of 16-bit and specialises in technical analysis. He's commonly known around Eurogamer as the Blacksmith of the Future.

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