Meta’s latest move in an effort to reinvent Second Life, or introduce the Metaverse, is to build better VR chips and entrust Qualcomm with the job.
At the IFA conference in Berlin this week, Meta and Qualcomm signed a multi-year partnership to jointly develop custom silicon for next-gen VR platforms. In an interview Last month at the Joe Rogan Experience, Zuckerberg promised VR headsets would be shown at his store’s Connect conference in October, despite his previous doubts how hardware dates would work.
“Our hope is that within the next decade, the Metaverse will reach a billion people, host hundreds of billions of dollars of digital commerce and support jobs for millions of creators and developers, and most importantly, enable better social experiences than anything out there today.” , Zuckerberg said during Qualcomms IFA keynote.
“Clearly, it will take major advances in connectivity, processing power, technology and hardware to bring all of this to life, and that’s where Qualcomm comes in.”
Working with Qualcomm, Zuckerberg will develop custom virtual reality chipsets for Meta’s Quest line of VR headsets as part of the deal. Qualcomm is happy because while this wonderful technology is being developed, it will be selling many more Snapdragon chips to Meta for Oculus Quest headsets.
“By partnering with Meta, we are bringing together two of the world’s leading metaverses to revolutionize the future of computing for billions of people in the years to come.” said Cristiano Amon, Qualcomm
Zuckerberg said virtual reality brings new challenges not previously seen in mobile semiconductors, including the evolution of what’s called spatial computing, the sheer cost, and crafting a suitable form factor that people will actually buy and use.
“As we continue to develop more advanced virtual and augmented reality capabilities and experiences, it has become increasingly important to develop specialized technologies to power our future VR headsets and other devices,” he said.
These challenges prompted Meta’s Reality Labs to develop a custom RISC-V based VR SoC. in a paper released This spring, researchers detailed the chip, which is based on a 7nm process node and features a neural network accelerator that uses a 1024 multiply-accumulate array, 2MB of SRAM, and a 32-bit RISC-V CPU combined.
According to the researchers, the chip was able to deliver a performance of 30 frames per second. Meanwhile, Meta claims the chip was able to perform inference on a convolutional neural network in 16.5 ms using just 22.7 milliwatts of power.
It remains to be seen whether Meta will continue to develop its own VR SoCs based on the design or incorporate lessons learned from the proof-of-concept as part of the collaboration with Qualcomm. What we do know is that Qualcomm’s existing Snapdragon XR chipset will form the basis for future designs.
Meta’s partnership with Qualcomm is by no means surprising. The companies have worked closely together for years, with Qualcomm’s chips powering many of Meta’s Oculus headsets to this day.
“We are still in the early stages of the metaverse. This kind of deep technical integration will help VR evolve into a multifunctional computing platform that will transform the way we all connect,” Zuckerberg said. ®
https://www.theregister.com/2022/09/02/meta_metaverse_qualcomm/ Meta hedges bets on Metaverse silicon with Qualcomm VR deal • The Register