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ETCA 2016: VR and the Race to Real

June 28, 2016

VR isn't new to ETCA. Last year featured a "Holodeck" and evening chat on the topic. This year's conference extended the coverage with a keynote by AMD's Roy Taylor on the promise and challenges of making VR a successful mainstream technology. Positioning 1895-2016 as the "Age of the Rectangle" during which our model of moving images in film and video has been confined to a rectangular window into the world -- a window that VR is poised to shatter. Taylor made the case for VR succeeding starting with the hundreds of startups, billions of dollars being invested, and the rapid ramp of enabling technology.

AMD is helping pave the road to VR success by selling a $200 card that is capable of meeting the minimum requirements set up by VR headset makers Oculus and HTC. Taylor sees 4K headsets, like those available currently for high-end applications, becoming mainstream over the next couple years. SImilarly, he predicts that low-cost manufacturing in China will cost reduce the prices of current-technology headsets. Controller companies are also starting to proliferate. The eventual goal in Taylor's mind, is 144 fps at 15K resolution per eye, with nearly-zero latency. Clearly we are many years away from that, though. He invited conference participant companies to consider joining the VR Council -- part of the ITA -- that AMD has helped establish. AMD is also working with film schools to help them teach the new techniques needed to create compelling VR content.

Unique to AMD's VR push is that it has open sourced much of its related software technology, under the name LiquidVR. By doing this it hopes to accelerate the performance gains needed to reduce latency -- and therefore reduce motion sickness and increase responsiveness. It's also giving away its FireRender GPU-based rendering library. AMD has also been a pioneer in allowing Async Computing, which enables features like Async Timewarp for rapid rendering for the portions of a scene that need to be rendered quickly. In addition to the importance of both 360-degree video capture and game engine content, he stressed the importance of immersive audio to complete the experience. In response to a question from Griffis, Taylor explained that he also sees VR as an excellent way to present news immersively, but he sees entertainment as the killer app that will drive VR adoption to a truly-broad market.

Tag(s): VR

David Cardinal

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