AMD continually offers competitively-priced CPUs and GPUs and even managed to secure contracts to produce processors for both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. Now, after announcing their purchase of Nitero, the processor manufacturer is looking to expand into the realm of VR.
Based in Austin, Nitero is a startup that manufactures 60GHz chips for use in VR and AR devices. For VR environments that are room-scale, the company’s chips offer reliable, low-latency performance. Latency impacts how quickly your movements are translated to the screen. The more latency there is, the easier it is to become disoriented or nauseated.
Another issue that AMD is hoping to address with the acquisition is the fact that VR mobility is limited by cumbersome wires. It’s an oft-held belief that for VR headsets to truly take off, they will first need to be unshackled. Currently, they’re tethered to powerful PCs and gaming consoles out of necessity.
Prototypes, such as Oculus’ Santa Cruz and HTC’s TPCast adapter for Vive are in the works but have yet to hit the market. According to AMD’s Chief Technology Officer, Mark Papermaster, the company aims to solve the problem of wired VR headsets:
Unwieldly headset cables remain a significant barrier to drive widespread adoption of VR. Our newly acquired wireless VR technology is focused on solving this challenge, and is another example of AMD making long-term technology investments to develop high-performance computing and graphics technologies that can create more immersive computing experiences. [sic]
— Mark Papermaster
Nitero has designed a new chip with a fancy new descriptor to go along with it. The phased-array beamforming millimeter wave chip, as they call it, has the potential to overcome some of the challenges associated with wireless VR and AR. Specifically, the chip addresses the aforementioned problem of latency.
Nitero’s CEO, Pat Kelly, is now Corporate Vice President of AMD. For now, Kelly expressed optimism about the acquisition:
Our world class engineering team has been focused on solving the difficult problem of building wireless VR technologies that can be integrated into next-generation headsets. We are excited to play a role in furthering AMD’s long-term technology vision. [sic]
— Pat Kelly