Qualcomm will supply custom chips for Meta’s VR headsets

Qualcomm Inc. will provide custom chips for the Quest series of virtual reality headsets from Meta Platforms Inc., the companies announcement today.

The companies described the partnership as a “comprehensive multi-year strategic agreement”. Qualcomm chip designers will create custom processors for Meta in conjunction with the social media giant’s engineering and product teams. The processors would run the Presence Platform, a set of software components developed by Meta to facilitate the development of mixed reality applications.

The companies did not provide technical details on the upcoming processors. However, they revealed that the chips are expected to be “powered by Snapdragon XR platforms and technology”. Snapdragon XR is a series of mixed reality chips developed by Qualcomm.

Meta uses the latest Snapdragon XR series processor, the XR2 5G, to power its flagship Oculus Quest 2 VR headset. The XR2 5G is a system on a chip, or a chip that includes several types of computer modules. This Features a central processing unit, a graphics processing unit and a modem that allows VR headsets to connect to 5G networks.

The XR2 5G also includes more specialized components. According to Qualcomm, the chip features a computing module known as Engine for Visual Analytics, specifically designed to speed up VR applications. Additionally, the XR2 5G includes optimizations that allow it to run AI applications 11 times faster than Qualcomm’s previous generation mixed reality chip.

The custom chips Qualcomm will provide for Meta’s Quest headsets may also feature AI optimizations. Meta ships its Quest series of headsets with a software platform known as the Presence Platform, which provides tools for developers to more easily create VR applications. The presence platform includes various AI components, which means a chip with AI-optimized circuitry could help speed up the software.

Meta would have plans to introduce four new VR headsets by 2024. The headsets would include two high-end devices optimized for productivity devices, along with two other entry-level products that will be available at a lower price. These latter two products are expected to be available as part of the Quest series of headsets, meaning they may feature Qualcomm’s custom chips.

Meta’s investments in VR hardware are an important part of its broader metaverse development efforts. The Metaverse is envisioned as a future version of the internet that would include more augmented reality and virtual reality elements. Last year, Meta spent over $10 billion on Metaverse-related initiatives.

“We are working with Qualcomm Technologies on custom virtual reality chipsets – powered by Snapdragon XR platforms and technology – for our future Quest product roadmap,” said Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “As we continue to develop more advanced capabilities and experiences for virtual and augmented reality, it has become more important to develop specialized technologies to power our future VR headsets and other devices.”

Qualcomm has would have said the chips it is developing for Meta may also be available for other VR headset makers. Qualcomm already supplies chips to several VR hardware manufacturers and also has a presence in the adjacent augmented reality market. Earlier this year, he signed a Partnership with Microsoft Corp. to develop custom chips for AR glasses.

Photo: Qualcomm

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