Some great news from Oculus just came in, they announced that pre-orders for the new consumer Oculus Rift will start tomorrow (January 6th) on the official website, but a price has not yet been announced. The news are even better for all Kickstarter backers, like me, that pledged for a Rift development kit who will be getting a free Kickstarter Edition Oculus Rift. No word on what will be different with this edition, but it will also include, just like all Rift pre-orders, a bundled copy of Lucky’s Tale and EVE: Valkyrie. There is however a bit of not so good news for some at there also is a mention of “in one of the 20 countries Rift is launching in”…
It seems that the consumer version of Oculus Rift will be available initially only for people living in the following countries with more apparently to come later on: United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and Taiwan.
For additional details you should check Oculus.com tomorrow when the pre-orders for the new Consumer version of the Oculus Rift are opened – 8 am Pacific Time on January 6th.
Today Nvidia has officially released the 1.0 version of two powerful VR software development kits (SDKs) – the Nvidia GameWorks VR and Nvidia DesignWorks VR that are targeted at headset, game, and application VR developers in order for this relatively new category of display devices to offer better performance and user experience. Delivering good VR games and experiences is a complex challenge, especially since immersive VR can require multiple times the graphics processing power compared to traditional 3D apps and games you not only need a good GPU in terms of performance, but also one that is optimized for VR. With these SDKs developers on Nvidia hardware should now have the tools to create amazing VR experiences, increase performance, reduce latency, improve hardware compatibility and accelerate 360-degree video broadcasts. Both SDKs deliver a comprehensive set of APIs and libraries for headset and app developers, including the new Multi-Res Shading Technology. Available publicly for the first time, Multi-Res Shading is an innovative rendering technique that increases performance by as much as 50 percent while maintaining image quality. Also the 1.0 SDK releases also add support for the new Windows 10 operating system.
For game and application developers, the GameWorks VR SDK includes:
– Multi-Res Shading — an innovative rendering technique for VR in which each part of an image is rendered at a resolution that best matches the pixel density of the warped image required by the headset. It uses the NVIDIA Maxwell chip architecture’s multi-projection capability to render multiple-scaled viewports in a single pass, delivering substantial performance improvements.
– VR SLI — provides increased performance for VR applications where multiple GPUs can be assigned a specific eye to dramatically accelerate stereo rendering.
– Context Priority — provides control over GPU scheduling to support advanced VR features such as asynchronous time warp, which cuts latency and quickly adjusts images as gamers move their heads, without the need to re-render a new frame.
– Direct Mode — treats VR headsets as head-mounted displays accessible only to VR applications, rather than a typical Windows monitor, providing better plug and play support and compatibility for VR headsets.
– Front Buffer Rendering — enables the GPU to render directly to the front buffer to reduce latency.
For developers of professional VR applications in markets such as manufacturing, media and entertainment, oil and gas, and medical imaging, NVIDIA DesignWorks VR builds on the core GameWorks VR SDK with the addition of powerful tools, such as:
– Warp and Blend — new APIs that provide application-independent geometry corrections and intensity adjustments across entire desktops to create seamless VR CAVE environments, without introducing any latency.
– Synchronization — techniques to prevent tearing and image misalignment while creating one large desktop that is driven from multiple GPUs or clusters. Various technologies like Frame Lock, Stereo Lock, Swap Groups and Swap Barriers are available to help developers design seamless and expansive VR CAVE and cluster environments.
– GPU Affinity — provides dramatic performance improvements by managing the placement of graphics and rendering workloads across multiple GPUs.
– Direct for Video — enabling VR and augmented reality environments such as head-mounted displays, CAVES/immersive displays and cluster solutions.
AMD has also been more active on VR support lately with the recent announcement of their AMD LiquidVR Technology for Developers. One of the key technology goals of LiquidVR is to reduce unwanted processing latency (reduce motion-to-photon latency) and deliver a consistent frame rate. AMD recently released the Alpha version of its LiquidVR SDK to select technology partners. The LiquidVR SDK is a platform designed to simplify and optimize VR development.
The four major features of LiquidVR SDK include:
– Asynchronous Shaders: more efficient GPU resource management.
– Affinity Multi-GPU: faster multi-GPU performance.
– Latest Data Latch: reduced motion-to-photon latency.
– Direct-To-Display: seamless plug and play experience.
Now the big question that remains is how soon users are going to have their hands on the new VR headset hardware such as the consumer version of the Oculus Rift that should be released sometime in the Q1 2016 or the alternatives such as HTC VIVE and others that might be coming with their own hardware. The developer hardware that has been available with most notable wider availability of the two generations of dev kits of the Oculus Rift has sparked the interest and demand for VR headset in many users that simply cannot wait to get their hands on the hardware and experience the promised great VR experiences as well as play great games in a new more realistic way.
Oculus have just announced that they plan to start shipping the consumer version of the Oculus Rift in Q1 2016 with pre-orders expected to be available later this year. In the weeks ahead, we should be seeing more details about the hardware, software, input, and many yet unannounced made-for-VR games and experiences coming to the Rift. Next week Oculus will be sharing more of the technical specifications about the upcoming consumer version of the Rift. It will be interesting to see what will be the final hardware specifications and features of the Oculus Rift as well as what will be the end-user price of the device as it will be an important factor for the wide user adoption of the device and VR technology in general. One of the most important things however remains the resolution and the type of of the display available in the consumer version as this is going to be one of the most important key factors… guess we’ll have to wait a bit more and see the specs.