We have been talking about NVIDIA’s 3D technology for a while now as it has been on display in one form or another for over a year.  At the NVISION08 conference this year we got our hands on a near final version of the active glasses technology as well as Mitsubishi TVs and Viewsonic monitors that ran at the required 120 Hz rate.  According to Digitimes the glasses are just about ready, the drivers are as well but the lack of any low cost and widely available displays is holding up the process a bit. 

According to sources in Taiwan’s graphics card industry, Nvidia has outsourced the manufacturing of its GeForce 3D stereo glasses to EMS provider Flextronics, and the product has passed design validation tests (DVT) in October and is ready to be shipped before the end of 2008. Once the product is launched, Nvidia will not ship the product to all of its partners but will instead choose a sole distributor in each market zone to prevent price competition, and the product will be mainly targeted to system integrators (SI), especially in the China and South Korea markets, the sources explained.

However, if Nvidia does begin shipping the product this year, the company will not see much of a boost in its sales of related graphics cards, as there is currently only one display on the market that officially supports the product, and that product is a TV, not an LCD monitor.

Based on information from Nvidia’s website and sources familiar with the product’s development, the GeForce Stereoscopic 3D glasses can only be supported by LCD monitors that feature “true” 120Hz monitor panels. The sources explained that some LCD monitor vendors are marketing 120Hz monitors that actually only overdrive 60Hz monitor panels, meaning that while the display is refreshed at a double rate, the image remains the same. Nvidia requires true 120Hz panels to support its 3D stereo glasses, as a different image (one for each eye) is used for each refresh, and displays that support the technology will bear a 3D Ready logo so that consumers know which models can be used.

The catch is that currently there is only one 3D Ready device on the market, a Mitsubishi 73-inch 3D Ready 1080p DLP TV. While ViewSonic and Samsung Electronics have demonstrated LCD monitors that bear the 3D Ready logo, neither of those vendors are shipping the products in the market. According to the sources in the graphics card industry, ViewSonic will not begin mass production of its monitors until January 2009.

Those sources also surmised that the high price of the glasses during the initial stage and the untested use of 3D glasses will also be hurdles Nvidia needs to overcome before the product can become a success.

Commenting on the challenges Nvidia faces, the sources close to the product’s development noted that the LCD panel industry is slowly moving toward production of 120Hz panels, and Nvidia is simply looking to take advantage of the potential such a shift provides to the gaming market. In addition, the sources indicated that it would be strange for Nvidia to launch its GeForce Stereoscopic 3D glasses if there were not any supporting monitors already in the market.

Nvidia declined to comment on any product not yet launched.