Qualcomm snaps-up VR with dedicated SDK

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/woolzian)

Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 is the processor standard for this year's flagship devices, which is little surprise when you look at its astounding benchmarks. However, incredible performance is wasted if there's no practical applications for it. 

The rise of virtual reality has supplied Qualcomm with a showcase for their latest Snapdragon's potential, and the company is supporting it with the launch of a dedicated SDK. 

“We’re providing advanced tools and technologies to help developers significantly improve the virtual reality experience for applications like games, 360 degree VR videos and a variety of interactive education and entertainment applications,” said Dave Durnil, senior director, engineering, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “VR represents a new paradigm for how we interact with the world, and we’re excited to help mobile VR developers more efficiently deliver compelling and high-quality experiences on upcoming Snapdragon 820 VR-capable Android smartphones and headsets.”  

An obvious focus of the SDK is for power management, with Qualcomm noting the 820 is capable of supporting immersive VR experiences but it must be utilised with the right tools in order to meet performance and power consumption requirements. The new Snapdragon VR SDK claims to be designed to abstract the complexity of immersive virtual reality and provide developers with access to optimized, advanced VR features, to simplify development, and to help them attain improved VR performance and power efficiency. 

To speed-up rendering, Qualcomm is supporting asynchronous time warp with single buffer rendering

Qualcomm achieves this by integrating with the company's Symphony System Manager SDK, which handles CPU, GPU and DSP power and performance management. This, the chip designer says, means systems will get better power management while maintaining stable frame rates. 

Another tool for developers of VR experiences for Snapdragon processors is 'DSP sensor fusion' which enables developers to create more responsive and immersive experiences by easily accessing the right combination of high frequency inertial data from gyroscopes and accelerometers via the Snapdragon Sensor Core and predictive head position processing with the Qualcomm Hexagon DSP. 

To speed-up rendering, Qualcomm is supporting asynchronous time warp with single buffer rendering in a feature it's calling 'Fast motion to photon'. Qualcomm claims this helps to reduce latency up to 50% when compared to not using the SDK. 

Finally, Qualcomm is helping to improve the readability of overlays in virtual worlds with a specific 'VR layering' tool which helps to generate menus, text, and other overlays so they render correctly and reduces distortions that would otherwise make them difficult to read. 

The SDK is expected to be available in the second quarter of 2016 through the Qualcomm Developer Network

Do you plan on trying Qualcomm's VR SDK? Let us know in the comments.

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