Virtual reality: a real driver for GPUs, says ARM

Virtual reality: a real driver for GPUs, says ARM

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By eeNews Europe

The so-called Oculus Ready PCs will exploit AMD’s LiquidVR and Graphics Core Next architecture for a low-latency VR performance and plug-and-play compatibility with VR headsets.

Announced in March by AMD, the LiquidVR initiative aims to smooth out the graphical processing issues around VR for a comfortable and fully immersive experience. Relying on the company’s GPU software and hardware sub-systems, LiquidVR technology is claimed to reduce motion-to-photon latency to less than 10ms, hence limiting motion sickness. It was recognized with the prestigious Lumiere Award by the Advanced Imaging Society for innovation in entertainment technology at the 7th Annual Technology and New Product Awards Luncheon at the Paramount Pictures Studios on the Paramount Lot in Hollywood, Calif.

Processor IP vendor ARM is also keen to be seen as an enabler for virtual reality. The company was key in the development of the recently announced Gear VR, a joint product development from Samsung and Facebook’s Oculus VR, we learned from Mark Dickinson, general manager of ARM’s media processing group, it also plans to integrate more features within its mainstream IP to support VR.

"There are lots of reasons why VR is going to be important in the future, not just another 3D TV phenomenon", Dickinson said in an interview with eeNews Europe.

"In the graphics world, screen sizes and resolutions are saturating, but there are other factors that continue to drive resolution. VR is one driver, with more and more emphasis on the quality of the pixels, that is, the computation around better real-time graphics. You need to support two screens with very high frame rates for smooth panning, 90fps or more, with very low latencies" he said.

The sensor read is very fast (for head tilt and pan), but then the information has to be processed and filtered and then the graphics pipeline has delays that need to be worked on, so the GPUs can deliver the corresponding graphics in time. And although a VR unit has to be optimized at the system level including drivers, the graphics are probably still the dominant source of delays, according to Dickinson.

"Today, VR is not running in the hundreds of millions of units per year, but anyone choosing an SoC for a smartphone will need to make sure that the SoC supports VR use cases. It will soon be a must have" noted Dickinson, adding that mobile phones have become a viable platform on which to consume media content including movies and immersive VR content.

That’s one way of saying that smartphone designers ought to over-engineer their GPUs on next-generation mobiles to fully embrace VR.

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Get the specs of Oculus Ready PCs

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