Over the last couple of days, we have received information that would indicate nVidia is not moving to HBM 2 for their consumer GPUs (outside of some extremely high-end models). Instead, they appear to be focusing on improvements found in GDDR5X and GDDR6. Conversely, AMD appears to be focusing on HBM for many of their high-end and even some mid-range cards. The two very different paths has sparked something of a debate amongst fans of both products (as you can imagine). The questions are, why chose one over the other at this point and is HBM a truly viable option for AMD?
This is going to be a little bit of a departure from how we would normally approach covering specific technology. Instead of addressing the state of hardware based on what we have actually worked with, we are going to look at VR from the standpoint of a consumer looking to buy for the first time. There are a couple of reasons to do this; the first is that we do not have either an Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or any other PC based VR technology. We do have the Oculus powered Gear VR, but that is in a category all on its own which we will cover in some detail below. So with the preface out of the way, let’s get started
The experts have all weighed in. 2016 will be the year of Virtual Reality. The problem is that the experts are very often wrong. Still that has not stopped multiple companies from pushing out new VR headsets, APIs, development kits and more. The craze has gone so far as to start effecting the way that companies are making core hardware. We already know that AMD is pushing for VR mastery with new products and by showing which existing products also have a level of VR support.
It is said that nature abhors a vacuum and that is certainly true. Something will come along to fill the void if we let nature take its course. Unfortunately this law is a little mutated in the consumer electronics market and especially in the PC component world. Here is reads; the market cannot stand not having an “It” technology, so we much create one. It seems that the last few years we have been watching this happen.
Yesterday we talked about the possibility that AMD will launch a Dual-GPU R9 Fury X card geared for 4k and VR. This is certainly welcome news for most AMD fans and for fans of virtual reality. It was no coincidence that the first time we are seeing this in operation was at a big VR event in LA or that the launch is rumored to coincide with the launch of Oculus and HTC’s Vive headsets. This move would be a very high-end AMD card on the market around April/May of this year.
Recently a comment from former Valve contractor, Fabian Giesen that VR is “bad news” brought up an interesting point. On the surface the technology has some interesting implications for making gaming, multi-media and even social networking more interactive and engaging. However, there is a much darker side to this technology that might escape the eye because of the flashy parts.
Virtual reality is one of the new “buzz” words in the industry these days and it seems that everyone wants to have a headset of their very own. So far in this round of VR (there have been companies doing VR before) we have seen the rise of Oculus as the leader despite not actually having a product on the market in any real form. Other players that have officially announced their intent are Sony, Google and Samsung.
If it only takes a couple of people to ruin a good thing then what happens when it is lot more than a couple? Well in the end things get shut down, just ask Oculus. After launching their development kit for the Oculus VR in China they had to pull it quickly when they discovered that people were not buying it for themselves, but to put it up for resale. This is not the coolest thing to do and could have a big impact on if Oculus releases a kit to other parts of the world.
If there was ever an indication that virtual reality might make it in the mainstream market it is when the web browsers start to support it. So far we have heard rumblings that Microsoft, Google and even Mozilla will be throwing their lot in with the VR gang. One of the big reasons for this is that Facebook has already pushed into that territory with their purchase of Oculus VR. After buying the virtual reality headset maker there have been multiple rumors of Facebook making a VR social world as an extension of their existing social network.
Although the concept of Virtual Reality (VR) is nothing new, there has always been something of a roadblock for this technology. That roadblock is money, if you do not have the money for the hardware and the programing APIs you are not going to develop for it. This is pretty much the fate of any technology that is stuck in the hands of a few large companies. Just look at 3D, we do not see 3D as more prevalent in gaming and movies because of cost.