Oculus has rolled out the Asynchronous Spacewarp, a new technology for the Oculus Rift that will allow the virtual reality headset to be supported by computers with lower specifications than what were previously required.
Oculus first unveiled Asynchronous Spacewarp in October at the Oculus Connect developer conference. The technology looks to address one of the biggest limitations of current virtual reality systems, and that is the cost associated with getting into the technology.
How Does Asynchronous Spacewarp Work?
In Oculus' explanation of the technology, it works by extrapolating frames from the previous one generated by virtual reality applications. While the feature sounds similar to Asynchronous Timewarp, which was launched alongside the release of the Oculus Rift, the difference is that the earlier technology is only capable of extrapolating the head rotation of the user.
Asynchronous Spacewarp will now work with Asynchronous Timewarp to cover all the visual motion within the virtual reality experience, including those of the character, camera, Touch controller and the user's position. While Asynchronous Timewarp covers head rotation, Asynchronous Spacewarp works with animated objects.
Without Asynchronous Timewarp, whenever a virtual reality application misses a frame, the world drags similarly to watching video in slow motion, causing the experience to falter. With Asynchronous Spacewarp working with Asynchronous Timewarp, dropped frames are largely reduced to keep virtual reality content running at 90 frames per second, even on computers with lower specifications than what were previously used for the Oculus Rift.
Lower Minimum Specs For The Oculus Rift
According to Oculus, the more capable the computer running the Oculus Rift, the less likely the need for Asynchronous Spacewarp. The technology, however, opens up virtual reality to cheaper computers, as the Oculus Rift will now be needing lowered minimum specifications.
From the previous requirement of an Nvidia GTX 970 or equivalent GPU such as the AMD Radeon 290 and an Intel Core i5 processor, the minimum specifications have been lowered to any Nvidia 900 or 1000 series GPU, including the Nvidia GTX 960, or any AMD RX 400 series card, along with an Intel Core i3 processor.
Upon the launch of the Oculus Rift, the associated cost to the technology included a PC worth at least $1,000, in addition to the $599 price tag of the virtual reality headset. With Asynchronous Spacewarp, it is now possible to run the Oculus Rift on a PC worth as low as $500, with the company approving the upcoming $499 AMD CyberPowerPC as capable of supporting the virtual reality headset.
Virtual Reality Headset Competition
Oculus' lowering of the minimum specifications required for PCs to run the Oculus Rift gives the company a better chance of competing in the burgeoning virtual reality industry, as other companies refine or launch their own offering such as the HTC Vive, the PlayStation VR, the Google DayDream View and the Samsung Gear VR.
With the Oculus Rift able to be supported in the near future by a $499 PC, will you be buying the virtual reality headset soon?