Qualcomm announces new Snapdragon 845 VR reference headset

Qualcomm has revealed a new reference design for a Snapdragon 845 VR headset today. The headset uses the similarly named mobile Snapdragon 845 system architecture that the company announced last month, which can be used for VR and AR.

The Snapdragon 845 headset is capable of displaying two 2400 x 2400 pixel screens at 120 frames per second, which is considerably higher than most existing headsets. (HTC’s Vive Pro headset only offers 1400 x 1600 resolution per eye, for instance.)

Qualcomm has also incorporated foveated rendering with its new headset, which uses an eye tracker to figure out where the user’s eye is focused, and lower the resolution of the peripheral vision areas. The effect is that the focused areas can be rendered at a higher resolution, improving performance and saving power.

The headset has four cameras, two facing inwards to track eye movements, and two outer facing ones. Eye tracking is still pretty uncommon in other headsets on the market, which may sometimes blur the edges of a screen to save power, rather than figure out what a user’s eye is focused on.

While few specs for the headset were revealed today, we do know plenty about the mobile platform, which will use room-scale six degrees of freedom head tracking with simultaneous localization and mapping.

The Snapdragon 845 headset builds on its predecessors, which were based on the older 835, and 820 platforms. The 845 VR headset supposedly has 30 percent faster graphics performance, 30 percent better power efficiency, and more than two times the display throughput, compared to its previous generation.

Credit: Qualcomm

The Snapdragon 845 headset offers new, incremental updates to its processors: a Qualcomm Kryo 385 CPU, an Adreno 630 GPU, a dedicated Hexagon digital signal processor (DSP) and a Spectra 280 image signal processor (ISP). With those specs, it can allegedly deliver up to four million pixels per eye, according to Qualcomm. The platform also supports 3D audio.

Last year at MWC, Qualcomm announced the reference design for the 835, then the product announcements came in the summer, and it hit the market afterward. So it’s reasonable to expect a similar timeline for the 845 products.

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