Qualcomm unveils new Snapdragon 845 powered VR headset

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Qualcomm just made a grand total of 11 announcements, ranging from Snapdragon 845 feature additions to exciting new VR and AI breakthroughs, with none of the 11 press releases dated February 21 concerning any potential acquisitions or takeover attempts. While we've seen examples of foveated rendering and SLAM in other devices, it's likely that Snapdragon-powered headsets will be more widely available.

While Broadcast Audio will be immediately available on the Snapdragon 845, developers will be able to add the audio feature "post-scale on many products", according to Qualcomm.

Debuting at the Snapdragon Tech Summit in December, the Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform features a variety of new architectures and subsystems engineered to deliver one-of-a-kind experiences that blur the lines between the physical and virtual worlds.

The Snapdragon 845 platform uses Qualcomm's latest visual processing system, called the Adreno 630. That means hardware and software can take advantage of full six-degrees-of-freedom tracking for head movements as well as understand the users' orientation in a room. Qualcomm's new VR reference platform built around its Snapdragon 845 offers more processing grunt and capabilities.

Inouye said Qualcomm's push to develop for the AR and VR market is helping drive it forward, but it will be up to developers and services to support these efforts and shape the growth in the market.

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Analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy agreed with Jhaveri: "The 845 is far and above the best chip for a mobile VR headset, even eclipsing the performance of some tethered solutions".

In our experience, smartphone-powered VR headsets can be occasionally fiddly to get going and the handset can get quite warm making the whole VR experience feel less than futuristic. As they explained to us in the call, they're focused on providing their partners with reference designs that can be quickly changed, branded as necessary and taken to market. This system provides 30 percent faster graphics performance and 30 percent better power efficiency - something for which mobile devices running on batteries are constantly starved - compared with the previous chip generation with the Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform.

The platform introduces features like foveated rendering and Roomscale. It keeps those parts of the picture sharp and clear, while the rest of the imagery outside of your field of view is blurry. Qualcomm was an early pioneer in the concept of true wireless stereo a technology that is created to completely eliminate the need for wires, not only between the media source and the headphones, but also between the left and right earbuds, offering users a wire-free stereo audio experience and supporting new use cases like hearables. That results in big power savings.

The 845 platform also includes a digital signal processor for measuring, filtering, or compressing analog signals. These features are now set to include "foveated rendering" (VR eye tracking) and support for room-scale VR experiences. "One of our key goals with VR is to enable good VR for the masses".

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