Hot off the heels of Nvidia’s G-Sync announcement late last year, AMD came to the Consumer Electronics Show with a variable refresh rate technology of their own. Known as FreeSync, the Nvidia alternative aims to essentially do the same thing as G-Sync but without requiring extra hardware.
Oh, and they want to make it free for all users. What’s not to like about that?
The gang over at The Tech Report must have though the same so they headed over to Nvidia’s booth at CES for a sit-down with Tom Petersen, the executive behind the development of G-Sync technology. While Petersen said he was excited to see competitors taking an interest in dynamic refresh rates, it is important to point out that AMD’s demo was running on laptops.
As he explained, laptops have a different display architecture compared to desktops. Broken down further, they have a more direct interface between the GPU and the LCD panel and are typically based on standards like LVDS or eDP (embedded DisplayPort). Desktops, on the other hand, typically use HDMI and DisplayPort and usually have a scalar chip positioned between the GPU and the display.
Because of this, it’s nearly impossible to implement variable refresh on a desktop monitor at present.
It’s the reason why Nvidia created the G-Sync module – to replace the scalar ASIC with logic of their own creation. To the best of his knowledge, there exists no scalar ASIC with variable refresh capability. If it existed, Nvidia would know, he said.