Intel’s future processors may make high quality VR more accessible

When Microsoft finalized the specs for their Windows Mixed Reality platform they revealed 2 tiers of support – Mixed Reality and Mixed Reality Ultra.

Mixed Reality required a Core i5 processor and at least an Intel 620 integrated GPU to deliver 60 fps, while Mixed Reality Ultra required a dedicated GPU at least as good as the Nvidia GTX 960 GPU to support the 90 fps needed to prevent nausea.

Now in an interview Intel has revealed they are in the process of designing processors which would bring high quality VR to even mid-range or low-end PCs and laptops.

The comments were made by Kim Pallister, the director of the Virtual Reality Center of Excellence at Intel, in a short interview before the start of the Virtual Reality Developers Conference (VRDC) in San Francisco.

He revealed that Intel was looking at adding dedicated logic to its Core processors to accelerate VR saying:

“We’re already using the media engines that we just talked about for 360-degree video or encoding on green screens, and we’re looking at things like our GPU, as well as some other platform features we can’t talk about yet, and saying what are some problems in VR that can be solved there.”

He discussed techniques to optimise performance on limited hardware, saying  “Can we do more optimized rendering for things like foveated rendering, [rendering] pixels where you need them and not where you don’t, as opposed to brute-forcing it?”

His comments suggest Intel may be looking to work smart rather than simply throwing expensive hardware into their motherboards. Nvidia has been looking at optimising techniques themselves,  promoting a technique called multi-resolution shading (MRS) instead.

Pallister noted the project was not worth doing unless Intel could do it well, as bad VR was worse than no VR at all.

“These are things that are going to be necessary to getting high-quality VR on notebook machines,” he explained.

It is not known when these improvements will hit the wider market, but hopefully when it does arrive it will find a robust market of software, users and enthusiasts ready to take advantage of it.

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