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Nvidia shows off experimental 1,700Hz ‘zero latency’ display

You probably don’t notice display latency on your computer much these days thanks to the improvements in IPS technology. The refresh rates are good enough for even the fastest games. However, VR comes with its own set of challenges. NVIDIA has shown off an experimental display with a refresh rate of 1,700Hz at GTC that could one day find its way into gaming-oriented VR headsets.

VR headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive run at a refresh rate of 90Hz. That’s enough for most people to view comfortably. Nvidia’s 1,700Hz display is many times faster, though. It can display a new frame every 0.58ms compared to once every 11ms with a current 90Hz screen. This is important because it actually requires a lot of movement to make objects in VR look like they’re standing still. As you move your head, the objects rendered by the headset have to move around the screen to maintain their location in the virtual space. If the display can’t refresh fast enough, you can end up feeling disconnected from your movements. It can actually make you a bit queasy in games.

To demonstrate how fast its new display is, Nvidia’s Vice President of Research David Luebke showed a magnified image of the screen. The display was moved back and forth on rails as the Nvidia logo remained stationary in front of the camera. The rail system is actually part of the demo too. The input information from moving the screen is routed directly into the display tracking, allowing it to take advantage of the faster refresh. Luebke says that 20ms of input latency is acceptable for VR, but getting below 10ms unlocks the power of hyper-fast displays like the one Nvidia has made.

VR is just starting to reach average consumers, and we don’t know how it’s going to evolve yet. Maybe in a generation or two, Nvidia’s experimental displays will help make VR more realistic than ever.

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