Qualcomm Updates Reference VR Headset Platform To Leverage Powerful Snapdragon 835

Last year at IFA 2016, Qualcomm announced its Snapdragon VR820 reference platform for OEMs to produce their own standalone virtual reality head-mounted displays (HMDs). Qualcomm was able to snag four original design manufacturer (ODMs) in 2016 for VR820 and has another five lined up for 2017.

Now, Qualcomm is ready to move on to the next stage, and that involves the launch of the Qualcomm HDM Accelerator Program. The HDM Accelerator Program brings with its access to the new, more powerful Snapdragon 835 SoC which will be powering flagship Android smartphones in 2017, with the most prominent of course being Samsung’s upcoming Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+.

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Through the HDM Accelerator Program, manufacturers will be given direct access to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 VR headset reference design, along with hardware components that have been fully validated. Qualcomm will also help market and endorse manufacturers’ final production designs.

All other aspects of the reference VR headset design should carry over, including dual front-facing cameras, eye-tracking cameras, positional sensors and quad microphones.

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In addition, Qualcomm’s VR SDK has also been updated to take full advantage of the powerful Snapdragon 835. Qualcomm has previously stated that the new Snapdragon 835, which is built on a new 10nm FinFET process in conjunction with Samsung, offers a 20 percent performance uplift in processing performance (compared to the Snapdragon 820), along with a 25 percent boost in graphics performance courtesy of its Adreno 540 GPU (compared to the Adreno 530).

The new VR SDK brings a wealth of functionality to the table, including six degrees of freedom thanks to the Hexagon DSP and Snapdragon Sensor Core. Foveated rendering is supported now via a plugin with the Unreal Engine 4 and Unity 3D game engines. Other additions include stereoscopic rendering with lens correction to boost visual quality and improved power/thermal management controls.

The HMD Accelerator Program is open as of today, while the additions to the VR SDK will arrive during the second quarter. Qualcomm says that VR headsets using the new Snapdragon 835 SoC will arrive during the second half of 2017.