Qualcomm unveils its first XR1 chip for AR / VR headsets
Chipsets optimized for smartphones perform many processes that are not necessary for a virtual headset. Despite the fact that the AR / VR headset has only become more popular in the last five years, it is still not available for the mass market, so it’s time to change the situation, which Qualcomm is going to do.
To implement this task, Qualcomm announced today that it has created a special chipset for standalone headsets. Its name is Snapdragon XR1. It is the company’s first chipset designed exclusively for the needs of AR and VR.
With this chipset, users will be able to enjoy things like 4K 30fps streaming on devices with XR1. Qualcomm already has four hardware partners developing devices with XR1 support: HTC Vive, Vuzix, Meta and Pico, but no one has officially announced the use of the XR1 yet.
The number of AR / VR headsets delivered to the market today is quite large, but Qualcomm says that in the near future the volumes will increase to hundreds of millions of units.
The recently released Snapdragon 845 chipset can work with VR, but the XR1 is a cheaper option for manufacturers of AR/VR equipment. After all, they do not want to pay for an architecture built around processing tasks that the devices will not solve.
Unlike the Snapdragon 845, the XR1 will be used in low-cost devices that have a better chance of hitting the mass market. The XR1 will not support 6DoF, like the 845, but will support, for example, platforms such as the 835 VR.
Hiren Bhinde, who heads Qualcomm XR, said that the new chipset will handle fewer workloads:
The chipset will be popular with those manufacturers who do not need the high graphics or memory bandwidth characteristic of the 845.
Hiren Bhinde. YouTube ©
According to Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 845 and 835 are more premium processors when it comes to graphics (the Snapdragon 835 is used by the Lenovo Mirage Solo and HTC Vive Focus standalone VR headset). The advantages of the XR1 may be to reduce the waiting time and ensure smooth operation, which is very important for VR.
A new wave of smart glasses
But perhaps VR is not the only technology that will gain advantages with the release of a new chipset. Perhaps we are waiting for a new stage in the smart glasses market.
Despite the fact that the XR1 is not designed for “3D mapping of the world and magic dragons” with holograms, it is expected that the chipset will allow smart glasses with built-in cameras to better recognize images, help with navigation, connect to a voice assistant and perform all the tasks that Google Glass should have been able to do.
Voice AI is one of the tasks that will be implemented at the highest level with the help of XR1. This chip may eventually attract more voice-related points. With the help of the chipset, the glasses will be able to take photos and make routes easier in hands-free mode.
By creating an inexpensive chipset for AR/VR headsets, Qualcomm is convinced that the XR1 can give manufacturers the additional impetus they need to start delivering a more affordable product.