Intel are one of the biggest and most recognisable names in computer technology, the second largest manufacturer of semiconductor chips in the world and a company deeply involved in the world of virtual reality (VR). While not as outwardly involved as companies such as Oculus or Google, Intel nonetheless play a central role in the rise of VR, as Kim Pallister, who runs the Intel VR Center of Excellence, explains.
Speaking to Gameindustry.biz, Pallister speaks about the misconception that VR is all about the more powerful graphics cards, pointing out the vital role of the CPU in the process: “We said, okay, the initial wave of focus was a lot on the graphics and HMDs. You have high-res displays, you have a lot of pixels available. So there was this sentiment that, hey, this is really just a graphics thing. And we said, hey, we think that actually driving the simulation, doing the physics under the hood, doing all of the stuff that you do in a 3D game application but doing it in 90 frames per second instead of, let’s say, 30, or maybe 60, that’s going to drive a lot of compute performance on the platform too.”
Intel are also getting involved with widening the ‘spectrum’ of VR devices, noting the flat spot in between high-end PC-based VR and mobile VR. As Pallister says: “A lot of that focus on that work with Microsoft [and its mixed reality push] was about making it not require as high-end a graphic solution and making it run on a 15-watt notebook. Because we think it’s important that, for some people, as magical as it is, they’re gonna say, yeah, but I only buy one notebook and I need it to be really thin and light and fit in my bag and I wanna take it to school or work or whatever. So I don’t have the luxury of a big high-end gaming desktop. We think it’s important that there be a flavor of VR for those folks as well.”
Pallister also says there might be too much focus on high-resolution, realistic graphics: “Will there be people that say, yeah, I want the Nintendo Wii of VR? Less photo-realism but more convenience? I’m sure that a contingent of people will want that. Again, I think that overall it’s good for the industry if there’s a wide spectrum of choices between appliance and general purpose machines, and high-performance and low-performance. It just gives people more choice and it brings more critical mass to support all the developers out there.”
Intel are also one of the companies hard at work on a wireless solution for high-end VR, so expect the company to remain a big name in VR development.
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