AMD Looks Into The Future With Acquisition Of VR Startup Nitero


AMD already has its plate full with GPU and CPU markets. Now it wants a slice of the VR pie, too.

AMD announced the acquisition of virtual reality company Nitero on April 10. Nitero is an Austin-based company that builds 60 GHz wireless tech for virtual reality and augmented reality.

AMD is on a roll this 2017, highlighted by the release of microprocessor Ryzen 7 in February. With the takeover of Nitero, AMD acquired an asset in the VR race.

Virtual Reality: AMD's 'Long-Term Technology Vision'

In a released statement, AMD announced the acquisition of intellectual property from Nitero. It also acqui-hired, or absorbed the "key engineering talent" from the company, boosting AMD's credentials with Nitero's employees. According to AMD, the acquisition is a testament to the company's investment on "immersive computing experience" via the development of top-notch graphics and computing technology.

Nitero is an Austin, Texas-based company that designs and manufactures wireless chips for use in VR and AR. Applications of such technology can be found in video games and entertainment. The acquisition not only instantly boosts AMD's portfolio of products, but it also gives the company a significant advantage in the VR computing experience: wireless technology.

"Unwieldly headset cables remain a significant barrier to drive widespread adoption of VR," said Mark Papermaster, chief technology officer and senior vice president of AMD. He said that the acquisition of Nitero's proprietary phased-array beamforming millimeter wave chip will help solve this challenge. Nitero's 60 GHz technology can transmit multi-gigabit signals with low latency without the need for bulky wires, thus enabling a more immersive VR experience.

Nitero co-founder and CEO Pat Kelly said that Nitero's wireless expertise can be integrated into next-gen headsets, possibly powered by AMD's GPU and CPU technologies. Pat Kelly has joined AMD as corporate vice president of Wireless IP.

"We are excited to play a role in furthering AMD's long-term technology vision," Kelly said.

The VR Race Intensifies

The VR technology train gained steam this decade as big companies started to develop their own VR technology, or acquire companies that specialize in this.

In 2013, game publisher and distribution platform Valve developed its own low-persistence, lag-free VR display, which it freely shared to all. In 2015, the company teamed up with HTC to create VR headset HTC Vive, which uses an infrared tracking technology. In 2016, Valve invested in Nitero, thus boosting Nitero's credibility when it comes to VR technology.

Facebook joined the fray when it acquired Oculus in 2014. Oculus developed Oculus Rift, arguably the first commercially successful VR tech used via head-mounted displays. In the same year, Sony developed the PlayStation VR for use in gaming. Other companies utilizing VR technology include Microsoft (Windows Mixed Reality), Samsung (Samsung Gear VR), and Google (Google Cardboard, and Daydream).

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