Meta and Qualcomm have announced that they are teaming up to design custom chipsets for future iterations of its extended reality (XR) platform. The two companies signed an extensive multi-year partnership at IFA 2022 in Berlin.
The partnership extends the existing relationship between the social media giant and the US chipmaker. Qualcomm currently produces the Snapdragon XR2 which powers Meta’s Quest 2.
However, in the future, expect greater collaboration between the engineering and product teams of both companies “to deliver next-generation platforms and core technologies to accelerate a fully realized metaverse. “.
The agreement currently excludes any plans by Meta to fulfill its Metaverse ambitions with its own processor, at least in the short term, just like Microsoftwhich also relies on Qualcomm for augmented reality (AR) chips, and unlike NVIDIAGoogle and Apple, who all design their chips.
The Meta-Qualcomm partnership, however, offers Menlo Park the opportunity to experience development with Qualcomm, an established industry leader in chip design, and brings its staff one step closer to gaining crucial experience. .
Metaverse, which Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, sees as the successor to the mobile internet, would require the development of an entire ecosystem of products and services, both in terms of software application and hardware.
David Chen, co-founder and CTO of Orbbec, wrote for Spiceworks, “From a hardware perspective, achieving the metaverse will require three forms of technology.”
“First, fully accurate and digital duplication, via digitization or digital construction, will have to take place. Then, networks will need to render these physical environments in the cloud or on devices in real time, making them easy to visit. The third and most challenging will be display technologies that provide a compelling real-world experience. »
Chen continued, “The devices and systems that enable this new era are well advanced and within a few years will allow the metaverse to thrive. Processing power, rendering engines, display technologies, cellular networks and virtual content are all reaching new levels.
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With the exception of the last, i.e. virtual content, Meta has little expertise in the others. So through the partnership with Qualcomm, Meta will aim to carve out a niche for itself, much like what Apple did with its in-house developed M1 and M2 chips for Mac and Google with its Tensor chip for smartphones, as well as other AI development services. Apple is also developing the underlying hardware for its upcoming VR product in-house.
“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,” Zuckerberg said. “Unlike mobile phones, creating virtual reality poses new multi-dimensional challenges in spatial computing, cost and form factor. These chipsets will help us push the boundaries of virtual reality and deliver amazing experiences. »
Besides XR, Qualcomm and Meta are working on AR products. The former clarified to GameSpot that the partnership does not encompass its Snapdragon Spaces AR platform and that Meta’s XR products will be developed on Meta’s presence platform.
Meta’s Reality Labs division, responsible for AR/VR/XR and Metaverse development, has released a $2.806 billion loss in Q2 2022 against a profit of $452 million. The company expects Reality Labs revenue to decline further in Q3 2022, despite growing demand for AR/VR headsets (jump 241.6% in Q1 2022), of which Quest takes the lion’s share.
However, Meta remains optimistic, as it seeks to invest more in Reality Labs and is now partnering with Qualcomm. To offset AR/VR R&D costs, Meta relies on its extensive advertising business, which is currently stifled by privacy-related features introduced in Apple’s iOS 14.5 and later, not to mention headwinds. global macroeconomics.
Meta responded by increasing the prices of Quest 2 by $100 starting August 1, 2022. Quest 2 now costs $399.99 and $499.99 for the 128GB and 256GB versions, respectively.
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