Here’s what’s new in the world of VR:
Microsoft and its upcoming Xbox Scorpio have dominated headlines this week with Digital Foundry’s exclusive release of the hardware specs and the massive task Microsoft took on creating a system that not only supported every Xbox One game, but did it while outperforming Sony’s Playstation 4 Pro. The hardware specs deliver hard, with faster CPU, increased GPU, more memory, and a better optical drive than both the Xbox One S and the PS4 Pro. Microsoft custom built not only the CPU, which utilizes eight custom x86 cores clocked at 2.3 GHz, but also the 40 Radeon GPU units and the centrifugal fan to support the vapor-chamber cooling system, something brand new to the world of mainstream consumer-level tech. All these massive upgrades to the Xbox engine have resulted in a system capable of running a game in native 4K at 60 frames per second – while only at 60-70% GPU utilisation. That’s shockingly low, and leaves a lot of room for even more visual improvements. As VR usage increases, high processing power is a must, and it looks like Xbox Scorpio will have the most powerful engine on the market when it launches. Microsoft has promised that VR capability will come to Scorpio sometime in 2018.
Despite being slow to jump into the world of virtual reality, Apple has hinted their next Mac Pro may have enough power to support VR. In an announcement on X date, Apple Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi responded to a question of who would need a more powerful Mac Pro by speaking to an increase in demand for more powerful GPUs for various reasons, VR being one of them. “There are heavy 3D graphics [applications] or graphics and compute mixed loads,” Federighi said. “Those can be in VR, those can be in certain kinds of high-end cinema production tasks where most of the software out there that’s been written to target those doesn’t know how to balance itself well across multiple GPUs but can scale across a single large GPU.” It’s not a direct confirmation, but it’s enough of a mention to show Apple has VR on their mind.
Gaming giant Valve, which worked together with HTC building the Vive, has reported it is working on three games for VR. Gabe Newell, Valve’s founder and president, said, “When I say we’re building three games, we’re building three full games, not experiments.” Valve has not released a full game since 2013. Valve also sat down with a couple journalists this week to talk about upcoming changes to Steam, its online game sales platform. The updates come in response to many users’ complaints of its store being flooded with asset-flipped, low quality games. Steam is hoping that changes like adjustments to its trading card system and a new, more regulated system of showcasing games will help with the quality control users have been asking for.
Check back every week to see what’s new in VR content and technology!