3D Vision Surround: NVIDIA’s Eyefinity

During our meeting with NVIDIA, they were also showing off 3D Vision Surround, which was announced at the start of CES at their press conference. 3D Vision Surround is not inherently a GF100 technology, but since it’s being timed for release along-side GF100 cards, we’re going to take a moment to discuss it.

If you’ve seen Matrox’s TripleHead2Go or AMD’s Eyefinity in action, then you know what 3D Vision Surround is. It’s NVIDIA’s implementation of the single large surface concept so that games (and anything else for that matter) can span multiple monitors. With it, gamers can get a more immersive view by being able to surround themselves with monitors so that the game world is projected from more than just a single point in front of them.

NVIDIA tells us that they’ve been sitting on this technology for quite some time but never saw a market for it. With the release of TripleHead2Go and Eyefinity it became apparent to them that this was no longer the case, and they unboxed the technology. Whether this is true or a sudden reaction to Eyefinity is immaterial at the moment, as it’s coming regardless.

This triple-display technology will have two names. When it’s used on its own, NVIDIA is calling it NVIDIA Surround. When it’s used in conjunction with 3D Vision, it’s called 3D Vision Surround. Obviously NVIDIA would like you to use it with 3D Vision to get the full effect (and to require a more powerful GPU) but 3D Vision is by no means required to use it. It is however the key differentiator from AMD, at least until AMD’s own 3D efforts get off the ground.

Regardless of to what degree this is a sudden reaction from NVIDIA over Eyefinity, ultimately this is something that was added late in to the design process. Unlike AMD who designed the Evergreen family around it from the start, NVIDA did not, and as a result they did not give a GF100 the ability to drive more than 2 displays at once. The shipping GF100 cards will have the traditional 2 monitor limit, meaning that gamers will need 2 GF100 cards in SLI to drive 3+ monitors, with the second card needed to provide the 3rd and 4th display outputs. We expect that the next NVIDIA design will include the ability to drive 3+ monitors from a single GPU, as for the moment this limitation precludes any ability to do Surround for cheap.


GTX 280 with 2 display outputs: GF100 won't be any different

As for some good news, as we stated earlier this is not a technology inherent to the GF100. NVIDIA can do it entirely in software and as a result will be backporting this technology to the GT200 (GTX 200 series). The drivers that get released for the GF100 will allow GTX 200 cards to do Surround in the same manner: with 2 cards, you can run a single large surface across 3+ displays. We’ve seen this in action and it works, as NVIDIA was demoing a pair of GTX 285s running in NVIDIA Surround mode in their CES booth.

The big question of course is going to be what this does for performance on both the GF100 and GT200, along with compatibility. That’s something that we’re going to have to wait on the actual hardware for.

Applications of GF100’s Compute Hardware Final Words
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  • Stas - Tuesday, January 19, 2010 - link

    all that hype just sounds awful for nVidia. I hope they don't leave us for good. I like AMD but I like competition more :) Reply
  • SmCaudata - Monday, January 18, 2010 - link

    The 50% larger die size will kill them. Even if the reports of lower yields are false they will have to get a much smaller profit margin on their cards than AMD to stay competetive. As it is the 5870 can run nearly any game on a 30" monitor with everything turned up at a playable rate. The target audience for anything more than a 5870 is absurdly small. If Nvidia does not release a mainstream card the only people that are going to buy this beast are the people that have been looking for a reason not to buy and AMD card all along.

    In the end I think Nvidia will loose even more market share this generation. Across the board AMD is the fastest card at every price point. That will not change and with the dual GPU card already out from ATI it will be a long time before Nvidia has the highest performing card because I doubt they will release a dual GPU card at launch if they are having thermal issues with a single GPU card.

    BTW... I've only ever owned Nvidia cards but that will likely change at my next system build even after this "information."
    Reply
  • Yojimbo - Monday, January 18, 2010 - link

    what do you mean by "information"? Reply
  • SmCaudata - Monday, January 18, 2010 - link

    Heh. Just that it was hyped up so much and we really didn't get much other than some architectural changes. I suppose that maybe this is really interesting to some, but I've seen a lot of hardware underperform early spec based guesses.

    The Anandtech article was great. The information revealed by Nvidia was just okay.
    Reply
  • qwertymac93 - Monday, January 18, 2010 - link

    I really hope fermi doesn't turn into "nvidias 2900xt". late, hot, and expensive. while i doubt it will be slow by any stretch of the imagination, i hope it isn't TOO hot and heavy to be feasible. i like amd, but nvidia failing is not good for anybody. higher prices(as we've seen) and slower advancements in technology hurt EVERYONE. Reply
  • alvin3486 - Monday, January 18, 2010 - link

    Nvidia GF100 pulls 280W and is unmanufacturable , details it wont talk about publicly



    Reply
  • swaaye - Monday, January 18, 2010 - link

    Remember that they talked all about how wondrous NV30 was going to be too. This is marketing folks. They can have the most amazing eye popping theoretical paper specs in the universe, but if it can't be turned into something affordable and highly competitive, it simply doesn't matter.

    Put another way, they haven't been delaying it because it's so awesome the world isn't ready for it. Look deeper. :D
    Reply
  • blowfish - Monday, January 18, 2010 - link

    This was a great read, but it made my head hurt!

    I wonder how it will scale, since the bulk of the market is for more mainstream cards. (the article mentioned lesser derivatives having less polymorph engines)

    Can't wait to see reviews of actual hardware.
    Reply
  • Zool - Monday, January 18, 2010 - link

    Iam still curious why is nvidia pushing this geometry so hard. With 850 Mhz the cypress should be able to make 850mil polygons/s with one triangel/clock speed. Now thats 14 mil per single frame max at 60fps which is quite unrealistic. Thats more than 7 triangels per single pixel in 1920*1050. Making that amount of geometry in single pixel is quite waste and also botlenecks performance. U just wont see the diference.
    Thats why amd/ati is pushing also adaptive tesselation which can reduce the tesselation level with copute shader lod to fit a reasonable amount of triangels per pixel.
    I can push teselation factor to 14 in the dx9 ATI tesselation sdk demo and reach 100fps or put it on 3 and reach 700+ fps with almost zero difference.

    Reply
  • Zool - Tuesday, January 19, 2010 - link

    Also want to note that just tesselation is not enough and u always use displacement mapping too. Not to mention u change the whole rendering scene to more shader demanding(shadows,lightning) so to much tesselation (like in uniengine heaven on almost everything, when without tesselation even stairs are flat) can realy make big shader hit.
    If u compare the graphic quality before tesselation and after in uniengine heaven i would rather ask what the hell is taken away that much performance without tesselation as everything looks so flat like in a 10y old engine.
    The increased geometry setup should bring litle to no performance advantage for gf100, the main fps push are the much more eficience shaders with new cache architecture and the more than double the shaders of course.
    Reply

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