Qualcomm launches dedicated XR1 chip for virtual, augmented reality applications

The Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 Platform has debuted with partners already signed up to develop mainstream VR devices.

Qualcomm has launched the Snapdragon XR1 Platform and a dedicated chip for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applications.

The US chipmaker debuted the XR1 Platform this week during a launch event ahead of Augmented World Expo (AWE) in Santa Clara, California.

Qualcomm touts the platform as the "world's first dedicated Extended Reality (XR) platform," which is intended to bring AR and VR to the mainstream in an affordable manner. XR is the firm's way of describing AR, VR, AI and similar technologies.

The current AR and VR industry is muddled with a handful of entry-level and high-end devices -- ranging from PCs to headsets -- but there is no cohesion and few affordable options available to members of the general public who are interested in these technologies.

However, Qualcomm hopes the XR1 will help bring the industry to order through a range of chips vendors can utilize for AR, VR, and artificial intelligence (AI) applications in the mainstream.

The XR1 platform has already caught the interest of some OEMs, including Meta, VIVE, Vuzix, and Picoare which have signed up to use the system. No XR1-based gadgets or systems have been announced yet, but it is unlikely to be too long.

However, speaking to sister site CNET, Lance Anderson, Vuzix VP of enterprise sales, confirmed that the company is working on two devices which utilize XR1 -- a gadget based on Blade smart glasses and an enterprise wearable.

The XR1 chip has been designed for power optimization, thermal efficiency, and improved interactivity -- a core requirement of VR and AR applications. The XR1 platform integrates an ARM-based CPU, vector processor, GPU, the Snapdragon XR SDK, machine learning technology, and an advanced XR software service layer.

Qualcomm's AI Engine is also part of the platform, which assists devices in the on-board processing of AI-use cases such as pose prediction and object classification. XR1 also caters for three- and six-degrees of freedom.

The platform also supports high-definition 4K resolution of up to 60 frames per second, and an integrated display processor can cater for hardware accelerated composition, dual-display support, 3D overlays, and APIs including OpenGL, OpenCL, and Vulkan.

"As technology evolves and consumer demand grows, we envision XR devices playing a wider variety of roles in consumers' and workers' daily lives," said Alex Katouzian, senior vice president of Qualcomm's Mobile Business Unit. "By integrating powerful visuals, high-fidelity audio, and rich interactive experiences, XR1 will help create a new era of high-quality, mainstream XR devices for consumers."

Previous and related coverage