Qualcomm announces XR Platform, its first dedicated chipset for affordable AR/VR headsets

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By Sameer Mitha | Published on 30 May 2018
Qualcomm announces XR Platform, its first dedicated chipset for affordable AR/VR headsets
HIGHLIGHTS

The Qualcomm XR chipset will be used in VR/AR headsets that don’t need the processing prowess of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 VR chipset.

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As far as mobile VR and AR is concerned, Qualcomm chips have been the go to ones. From the days of the Snapdragon 821, Qualcomm chips have been able to power VR headsets through smartphones. With the launch of dedicated AR and VR headsets that don’t need a smartphone, using a smartphone chip may seem like an overkill, especially when you consider all the other task the mobile chip is capable off. Keeping affordability in mind, Qualcomm has announced the XR platform a chip that will power AR and VR headsets. This isn’t the first time Qualcomm has announced a dedicated VR chip. The Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR platform, successor to Snapdragon 835 Mobile VR, was announced by the chip-designer in Barcelona ahead of MWC 2018. You can read more about the 845 mobile VR chip here

“As technology evolves and consumer demand grows, we envision XR devices playing a wider variety of roles in consumers’ and workers’ daily lives,” said Alex Katouzian, senior vice president and general manager, Mobile Business Unit, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “By integrating powerful visuals, high-fidelity audio, and rich interactive experiences, XR1 will help create a new era of high-quality, mainstream XR devices for consumers.”

According to Qualcomm, “XR1 integrates Qualcomm Technologies’ heterogeneous compute architecture, including the ARM-based multicore Central Processing Unit (CPU), vector processor, Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) and Qualcomm AI Engine. Other key features include an advanced XR software service layer, machine learning, the Snapdragon XR Software Development Kit (SDK) and Qualcomm Technologies connectivity and security technologies.”

Another interesting thing to note is that Qualcomm says that the XR1 is capable of supporting both 3DOF (Degrees of Freedom) and 6DOF tracking for head and hands based on what the hardware maker needs.

Qualcomm XR lead Hiren Bhinde told TechCrunch that the new chipset “will handle fewer workloads as opposed to the 845 for similar power and thermal benchmarks. There are also some AR customers who don’t need the high graphics or memory bandwidth supported in 845 for their devices, which is what makes the XR1 a perfect fit for them.”

With this dedicated hardware from Qualcomm, it is possible that we will see dedicated budget VR and AR headsets launch that don’t need a smartphone to power them and give decent performance at an affordable cost. 

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Sameer Mitha

Sameer Mitha lives for gaming and technology is his muse. When he isn’t busy playing with gadgets or video games he delves into the world of fantasy novels.

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