Virtual reality will mean an investment of money important, not only in the Oculus Rift to which has already price, but also on the PC, you connect these glasses RV to enjoy these promising experiences.
The technicians responsible for Oculus ago and explained what months would be the minimum requirements of these PCs, but after the price of the Rift we now ask why virtual reality is so demanding. Why do you need a lot more resources than with most traditional video games?
Simulate a virtual world is a technical challenge
We have long known the investment that would allow us to enjoy the experience offered by Rift Oculus could be around 1400 dollars, but that cost can vary greatly if you already have a PC with some of the components needed to ensure good behavior from experience Of virtual reality.
Marking requirements Oculus makers were clear and especially bearing on a section: the graphics card. The power of this component is fundamental key to be able to “move” these virtual worlds with fluency and with the necessary precision so that the sensation of presence and of immersion is good, but as we saw there were other relevant factors …
|Graphic card||Equivalent to or greater than an NVIDIA GTX 970 or an AMD R9 290|
|Processor||Equivalent to or greater than an Intel Core i5-4590|
|RAM||8GB or higher|
|Port of departure||HDMI 1.3 compliant video output|
|Ports of entry||3 USB 3.0 ports plus one USB 2.0 port|
|OS||Windows 7 SP1 64-bit or later|
As we say, there are several technical requirements that are geared to a single purpose: the experience in these virtual worlds is as smooth as immersive, something that is necessary to meet minimum in crucial issues such as the amount of visual information handled per second, the monitoring and monitoring of our movements and, above all, something critical: latency.
Why is so much power needed?
The truth is that virtual reality makes it necessary in the first place a frame rate higher than normal to have that feeling that everything is natural in that virtual interaction. This not only helps deliver that quality in immersion, but also to reduce the celebrated dizziness that was very common in the early editions of the Rift developer and has gradually improved with each new iteration.
The distinction is clear with respect to computer games, which typically achieve rates of 30 frames per second is considered sufficient to achieve a remarkable experience. It is true that here the best and the powerful graphics dedicated to achieve that even in demanding games at high resolutions the rates of FPS are much higher and exceed even 30 frames per second, but these types of configurations are usually only used by the gamers. This is indeed a topic that usually generates much controversy between those who argue that PC Master Race exists and others – those who are placed over next to the Consoles- believe it is a bit tiresome.
In Oculus, however, they have not wanted to risk and therefore ask powerful graphics to ensure a high rate of frames even with the resolution and refresh rates that are used in the two screens that serve as unique TV screen and move us those virtual worlds.
In fact, the resolution and refresh rates have been improving as the various preliminary editions of these virtual reality glasses have been coming. In the DK1 total resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels at 60 Hz, with a field of view of 110° while the DK2 had a total resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels at 75 Hz with a field of view of 100°.
In the Rift in its final version for consumers (which in forums like Reddit often called “CV1”) improvement is sensitive and we reached the 2160 × 1200 pixels in total (1080 x 1200 pixels per display) at 90 Hz. Part of what they were looking forward to in the final version was disappointed because they expected the jump to a resolution 1440p, but as several users pointed out in Reddit here Oculus has not wanted to compromise and has made a decision that will ensure fluidity without harming Notably the quality of the image.
Precisely that resolution and refresh rate makes the PC that we connect to the Rift needs to process around 233 million pixels per second, but if we also consider that 10 bits of color are supported, we have the result that the transfer of data it is enormous: 7 Gbps.
If we compare that data with a “conventional” game, we find that in a resolution 1080p a game at 60 Hz requires the processing of 124 million pixels per second. Actually the Rift have to do further calculations and as explained technical figure rises to 400 million pixels per second, which according to these engineers represents three times the power needed to run smoothly these 1080p games on the PC with That we are comparing those hardware requirements. As explained there,
The good stereo reality with positional tracking brings your perception system directly to an environment in ways that a flat monitor cannot do. As a result, rendering techniques and quality matter more than ever, and things that are imperceptible on a traditional monitor suddenly make the difference when experienced in RV. It is for this reason that VR increases the value of GPU performance.
That fact affects other specifications which we spoke Oculus technical requirements: the use of HDMI 1.3 standard is sufficient to ensure that data transmission is smooth, since this version of the standard supports up to 10.2 Gbps if one Also includes the overhead of 10-bit color coding (8.16 Gbps not included). The HDMI 1.4 standard maintains this information, but improves the maximum resolution to support 4K DCI (4096 x 2160 at 24 Hz, not to be confused with UHD, falling to 3840 x 2160 pixels and the whole industry has used regardless of incorrectly.)
In fact here what they want in Oculus is, simply, to cover their backs. That is why we are asked for PCs that produce frame rates per second equal to or higher than the refresh rates of the Rift screens. If that is not achieved, the result would be lost frames may not be noticed too much on a PC connected to a conventional monitor for games, but that in itself RV glasses and much noticeable. In fact, they can be the cause of those dizziness and dizziness that can make the experience uncomfortable.
It is unclear whether the Rift simply refuse to work if they do not detect the correct hardware – this official tool that checks whether your PC is prepared- but it seems unlikely that the glasses do not do anything in that case. What is likely is that the experience we have with hardware less than recommended is poor and disappointing, something that logically want to avoid in Oculus.
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The fight against latency
Another key sections in which the graphics power plays a key role is in the reduced latency, which basically represents the response time of the system to our actions and movements. Reducing latency is one of the battles waged by graphics card makers, and these response times are linked to other latencies, the latencies, which mean that since our actions are performed until they reach the server of the online game – for focus on this tenor – cause high response times and the dreaded appear lags that hurt online gaming experience.
If these latencies are important in the traditional game, they are even more so in the realm of virtual reality, and there are two very specialized and deep technical documents that can help you to better understand the problem. The first is Mike Abrash, who worked at Valve to be signed as Chief Scientist at Oculus and explaining since the end of 2012 how latency was something critical in this field:
How much latency is too much? Much less than you would imagine. To have a reference, the games generally have a latency from the mouse movement to the screen update of 50 ms or higher (sometimes much higher), although I have seen figures that were around 30 ms for simple games at graphic level that They had tearing (i.e. with v sync turned off). In comparison, I can tell you that according to my personal experience more than 20 ms is too much for VR and especially for augmented reality, but research indicates that the barrier could be in the 15 ms and even in the 7 ms.
The article Abrash is as we said a technical reference, but if there is another key player in the fight against latency in virtual reality that is nothing less than the legendary John Carmack, who long ago also joined Oculus but before doing so published his “Latency Mitigation Strategies” -curiously the original blog disappeared.
In that document, Carmack reflected on different types of techniques to address the problem of latency, and he also recognized that if the latency in virtual reality glasses was 50 ms have a system with a decent answer, but “delays subtle”. Still, he explained “the true latency reduction should be pursued aggressively” and indeed this has been one of the goals in each new evolution of Oculus whose development now leads this legendary programmer.
Not yet known clearly latency which have made it with that last final version for users of the Rift (in DK1 was between 50 and 60 ms, and the DK2 was estimated latencies between 20 and 40 ms) but when the device is finally physically available it will be a good time to evaluate this parameter with devices like the own “Latency Tester” developed by Oculus and now, ironically, is exhausted. If you want to investigate further on this issue, Oculus blog you have one more item to explore this concept.
NVIDIA and AMD in the race for virtual reality
We have already made clear the importance of graphics processors in providing the best possible experience in the field of virtual reality, but here not only Oculus is working to improve the flow and quality of the dive: they are also the major development dedicated graphics which are putting a lot of wood on the grill.
NVIDIA has long been working in this area and in fact recently wanted to reaffirm its total commitment to this segment. In an interview for VentureBeat Jason Paul, Head of RV in NVIDIA, he explained his vision of a market is still in its infancy. Although as always there to take your comments with tweezers, he had fun facts, and for example Paul revealed that there are only 13 million PCs (with graphics NVIDIA dedicated, that is) prepared to enjoy the experience proposed in Oculus.
The others, they say in NVIDIA, will have to update and acquire more powerful cards that obviously this manager expected that they were his signature. To defend their arguments explaining the commitment of NVIDIA with virtual reality technologies and spoke of GameWorks VR, a set of libraries and APIs aimed at developers and allow access to new techniques in order to optimize the RV experience through these graphic.
Among the possibilities offered by NVIDIA are both called VR SLI (i.e. make your SLI configuration for the virtual reality experience) as promising technology Multi-Res Shading directed to seize the Maxwell architecture especially do more with less : Greater efficiency through a system of rendering of virtual worlds that combines the way in which the rendering of scenarios, characters and virtual objects works with the world of optics.
As they say in NVIDIA, in a classic rendering RV is “drawn” many pixels they never actually reach the screen, and this system optimizes the use of GPUs for these processors work where they are needed. You have a deeper explanation of the proposal NVIDIA in AnandTech.
AMD obviously not lag behind, and officials also want to defend their proposal, called LiquidVR. In it AMD tries to improve the support of the VR experience through three pillars: comfort (reduce latency and improve tracking of movement of our head), compatibility to work with all types of RV glasses, and contents That can be played and enjoyed in Multi-GPU (CrossFire) environments.
There are several components and technologies involved in all of these improvements, but one of the most striking is called Affinity Multi-GPU, which lets you assign a GPU for each eye when we have a CrossFire system with two AMD cards connected and working simultaneously.
This type of solution would make each card will literally take charge of each eye or rather, each screen- order to optimize the user experience. It will be interesting to see how it behaves really, but if you want to whet your appetite can explore new technical article that performed in AnandTech and talking more in detail all these concepts.
Although there are other technical requirements, and such is the fact “compel” to have USB 3.0 ports on our computers when USB 2.0 ports seemed perfectly capable of leading to virtual worlds in DK1 and DK2 Oculus. Here again we deal with that attempt of Oculus to have room for maneuver: the bandwidth of the standard USB 3.0 allows there are no potential bottlenecks in this section when using for example the camera that follows our movements or even the Of the control or the future Oculus Touch that will appear in the second half of 2016.
So, we have a philosophy that Oculus want to make sure that when we enjoy virtual reality, we do so with maximum guarantees. Those responsible for this firm have clarified that these minimum requirements will not change over time and that therefore the cost to meet those specifications will be reduced with the inexorable reduction of components over time, so although currently accessing this Hardware has a high cost, doing so in the coming months – and years – will be less expensive.
What seems evident is that the comparisons between video games and content that we enjoy right now and those proposed by the virtual reality segment are very different. The latter added an important complexity that will surely be increasingly assumed by cheaper hardware, but today the conclusion is clear: to enjoy virtual reality need power, and lots.Tags: Oculus Virtual Reality