Chipmaker Qualcomm has announced its Snapdragon XR1 platform. During the announcement at the launch event, Qualcomm claimed that XR1 platform is “world’s first dedicated Extended Reality (XR) platform”. According to the company, Snapdragon XR1 is aimed to provide high-quality XR experiences while allowing device and headset makers to make more powerful standalone headsets. Qualcomm has worked on making “special optimizations” for Augmented Reality (AR) experiences along with Artificial Intelligence (AI) capability.
These optimizations will allow the XR1 platform to provide improved interactivity, power consumption and thermal efficiency in comparison to existing SoCs to power existing standalone headsets. The company is teaming up with VIVE, Meta, Vuzix, and Picoare to develop “on the first dedicated XR1 platform”. Alex Katouzian, the Senior Vice President and General Manager for Mobile Business Unit at Qualcomm Technologies added, “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.”
Going into the technical details, the XR1 integrates the heterogeneous computing architecture along with the ARM-based CPU, a vector processor, GPU and Qualcomm AI Engine together. We are no technical wizards when it comes to the internal workings of a SoC platform on how it would affect the performance but this is meant to inform people who are looking for such details.
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The company went on to add that this platform comes with “an advanced XR software service layer, machine learning”, Snapdragon XR Software Development Kit (SDK) including Qualcomm technologies for connectivity and security. The platform also comes with an AI engine to enable “on-device processing” so that users can perform “high performing, power-efficient machine learning-based computer vision algorithms” which would help AR use-cases such as classifying different objects or predicting the pose of a human.
Moving to the visual power of the XR1 platform, the dedicated SoC supports 4K movies with up to 60 frames per second for “high-quality VR” head-mounted displays. The Qualcomm Spectra Image Signal Processor (ISP) helps produce high-quality images for AR headsets. The display processor on the XR1 offers a number of display options to users ranging from hardware-accelerated composition, dual-display support, support for leading graphics APIs including OpenGL, OpenCL, and Vulkan, and 3D overlays. It also comes with “advanced vision processing capabilities” that is essential for Visual Inertial Odometry (VIO) to allow for the extended reality where users can move around in the VR environment.
XR1 packs a number of Qualcomm Technologies ranging from 3D Audio Suite, Aqstic Audio, and aptX for high-quality audio, “always-on, always-listening” voice assistance for digital virtual assistants in addition to Bluetooth playback. It has fancy technology such as the “head-related transfer functions” (HRTF) that allows the ears of users to process binaural sound that feels like it is coming from a particular spot in the space.
Last but not the least, XR1 allows three and six degrees of freedom (3DoF, 6DoF) head tracking along with controller capabilities for XR devices. This will enable users to not only move in a virtual space but also interact with and/or play in that space.