Meta hedges bets on metaverse silicon with Qualcomm VR deal


Meta’s latest move in an effort to reinvent Second Life, or roll out the Metaverse, is to build better VR chips and trust Qualcomm for the job.

At the IFA conference in Berlin this week, Meta and Qualcomm entered into a multi-year partnership to co-develop custom silicon for next-generation VR platforms. In an interview last month on Joe Rogan Experience, Zuckerberg promised that VR headsets would be showcased in October at his company’s Connect conference, despite his earlier doubts about how hardware deadlines would work.

“Our hope is that over the next decade, the metaverse will reach one billion people, house hundreds of billions of dollars of digital commerce, and support the jobs of millions of creators, developers, and most importantly, enable better experiences. social than anything that exists today. “, said Zuckerberg during Qualcomm IFA Keynote Speech.

“Of course, it’s going to take big advances in connectivity, compute, technology and hardware to bring it all to life, and that’s where Qualcomm comes in.”

Working with Qualcomm as part of the deal, Zuckerberg aims to develop custom virtual reality chipsets for Meta’s Quest line of VR headsets, Qualcomm is happy because while this wonderful technology is developed it will sell many more chips Snapdragon to Meta for Oculus Quest headsets.

“By partnering with Meta, we are bringing together two of the world’s leading metaverse companies to revolutionize the future of computing for billions of people in the years to come,” said Cristiano Amon, Qualcomm

Zuckerberg said virtual reality introduces new challenges never seen before in mobile silicon, including the development of so-called space computing, the very cost, and crafting an appropriate form factor that people will actually buy and use. .

“As we continue to develop more advanced capabilities and experiences for virtual and augmented reality, it has become more important to develop specialized technologies to power our future VR headsets and other devices,” he said.

These challenges prompted Meta’s Reality Labs to develop a custom RISC-V-based VR SoC. In a paper published this spring, researchers detailed the chip, which is based on a 7nm process node and includes a neural network accelerator that combines a 1024 multi-accumulation array, 2MB of SRAM and a 32-bit RISC-V processor. .

According to the researchers, the chip was capable of delivering 30 frames per second of performance. Meanwhile, Meta claims the chip was able to perform convolutional neural network inferences in 16.5ms using just 22.7 milliwatts of power.

It remains to be seen whether Meta will continue to develop its own design-based VR SoCs or incorporate lessons learned from the proof of concept as part of its collaboration with Qualcomm. What we do know is that Qualcomm’s existing Snapdragon XR chipset will form the basis of future designs.

Meta’s partnership with Qualcomm is by no means surprising. The companies have worked closely together for years, with Qualcomm’s chips powering many of Meta’s Oculus headsets to this day.

“We’re still in the early stages of the metaverse. This kind of deep technical integration will help virtual reality become a multifunctional computing platform that will transform the way we all connect,” Zuckerberg said. ®


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