Category Archives: Virtual Reality

VR rivals come together to develop a single-cable spec for VR headsets

USB Type-C, the most exciting boring connector in the industry right now. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Future generations of virtual reality headsets for PCs could use a single USB Type-C cable for both power and data. That’s thanks to a new standardized spec from the VirtualLink Consortium, a group made up of GPU vendors AMD and Nvidia and virtual reality rivals Valve, Microsoft, and Facebook-owned Oculus.

The spec uses the USB Type-C connector’s “Alternate Mode” capability to implement different data protocols—such as Thunderbolt 3 data or DisplayPort and HDMI video—over the increasingly common cables, combined with Type-C’s support for power delivery. The new headset spec combines four lanes of HBR3 (“high bitrate 3″) DisplayPort video (for a total of 32.4 gigabits per second of video data), along with a USB 3.1 generation 2 (10 gigabit per second) data channel for sensors and on-headset cameras, along with 27W of electrical power.

That much video data is sufficient for two 3840×2160 streams at 60 frames per second, or even higher frame rates if Display Stream Compression is also used. Drop the resolution to 2560×1440, and two uncompressed 120 frame per second streams would be possible.

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Qualcomm launches a new chip specifically for standalone AR and VR devices

Enlarge (credit: Qualcomm)

Qualcomm on Tuesday announced the launch of a new chip explicitly designed for standalone augmented reality and virtual reality devices: the Snapdragon XR1. The chipmaking giant debuted the tech ahead of this week’s Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara, California.

The company is staying tight-lipped on technical details about the new SoC for the time being. Qualcomm says the SoC will use a Kryo CPU and Adreno GPU, as Qualcomm chips typically do, but exactly how those and the rest of the XR1’s building blocks will be configured isn’t yet clear.

That said, Qualcomm is slotting the XR1 below its existing Snapdragon 845—the chip powering most of the year’s highest-end smartphones—in terms of memory bandwidth and GPU power. It is primarily aiming XR1 devices at “lean back” experiences like 360-degree video viewing, at least to start.

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Qualcomm VR and AR Press Event: Live Blog (7pm PT, 2am UTC)

Qualcomm is attending the AWE Event, an AR and VR expo. We're here at their press event in Levi's Stadium, ready for the Live Blog. Event starts at 7pm Pacific.