Chip makers aren't all-in on metaverse hardware yet – we should know, we asked them

Nvidia, though, expects this virtual-reality world to be as vast as the internet

Is the Facebook-driven metaverse opportunity for real? Chip makers seemingly have more important things to worry about than a concept that could either take off or emerge as the Myspace of virtual reality.

Facebook, as a corporation, last week rebranded itself Meta, and is betting its future around a metaverse, or a large virtual-reality world in which people create and appear as avatars that can interact, play, and work. Meta is building virtual reality headsets and other hardware to meet its vision, but it will need chip makers and hardware companies to create the underlying electronics and infrastructure.

Qualcomm dedicated some time early in an earnings call this week highlighting its XR platform – XR being a term encompassing virtual and mixed reality scenarios – which includes chips and software for virtual reality devices. But other than that no more time was spent on kit dedicated to the metaverse.

"Our early investments have established Snapdragon XR as a device platform of choice for connecting physical and digital spaces. And recent market developments position us as one of the key enablers of the metaverse opportunity," said Cristiano Amon, CEO of Qualcomm.

Imagination, which makes mobile graphics processor designs, is being cautious, and will watch how the opportunity develops over the next decade. The metaverse is an interesting concept, but "we must remind ourselves that there is a significant gap between reality and expectation," a company spokesman told The Register.

"From a processing standpoint, there’s a considerable demand for power especially when rendering realistic virtual environments at that scale," he said.

There are challenges and opportunities that come with GPU products in the graphics-driven metaverse, but the "concept is still in its infancy and will require digital infrastructural change across a variety of areas for it to be implemented successfully," the spokesman said.

Nvidia is ahead of other chip makers in the metaverse opportunity, and stands to gain if the idea takes off. The graphics card maker provides tools like its Omniverse platform for companies to build a metaverse without borders so users can theoretically jump from a Facebook metaverse to the universe of Roblox or Minecraft.

"The metaverse is vast – just like the internet, it will be a collaborative effort to build. Omniverse is a technology layer focused on connecting and building physically accurate virtual worlds or “digital twins” to help solve the world's hardest engineering and science problems," Richard Kerris, vice president of the Omniverse development platform at Nvidia, told The Register.

The company is holding multiple metaverse sessions at its upcoming GTC conference next week, including one in which Tim Sweeney, founder and CEO of Epic Games, and Morgan McGuire, chief scientist at Roblox will participate.

Nvidia is dedicating its latest RTX graphics cards to run the Omniverse platform.

Arm sees the metaverse and emerging virtual and mixed reality ecosystem as an opportunity for mobile-based experiences using its high-performance, low-power specialized processor designs.

"To address this, we started our Total Compute strategy more than 2 years ago to prepare for the expansion of high-performance compute to address specific workloads – like ML – which will feature heavily in these type of XR use cases and applications," Ian Smythe, vice president of marketing, Arm client line of business told The Register. Arm designs are also likely to feature in licencees' metaversal products: Qualcomm's XR platform is based on the chip designer's specs.

Intel and AMD declined to comment for the story. The companies haven't talked extensively about the metaverse opportunity. ®

Similar topics

Narrower topics

Other stories you might like

  • Robotics and 5G to spur growth of SoC industry – report
    Big OEMs hogging production and COVID causing supply issues

    The system-on-chip (SoC) side of the semiconductor industry is poised for growth between now and 2026, when it's predicted to be worth $6.85 billion, according to an analyst's report. 

    Chances are good that there's an SoC-powered device within arm's reach of you: the tiny integrated circuits contain everything needed for a basic computer, leading to their proliferation in mobile, IoT and smart devices. 

    The report predicting the growth comes from advisory biz Technavio, which looked at a long list of companies in the SoC market. Vendors it analyzed include Apple, Broadcom, Intel, Nvidia, TSMC, Toshiba, and more. The company predicts that much of the growth between now and 2026 will stem primarily from robotics and 5G. 

    Continue reading
  • Deepfake attacks can easily trick live facial recognition systems online
    Plus: Next PyTorch release will support Apple GPUs so devs can train neural networks on their own laptops

    In brief Miscreants can easily steal someone else's identity by tricking live facial recognition software using deepfakes, according to a new report.

    Sensity AI, a startup focused on tackling identity fraud, carried out a series of pretend attacks. Engineers scanned the image of someone from an ID card, and mapped their likeness onto another person's face. Sensity then tested whether they could breach live facial recognition systems by tricking them into believing the pretend attacker is a real user.

    So-called "liveness tests" try to authenticate identities in real-time, relying on images or video streams from cameras like face recognition used to unlock mobile phones, for example. Nine out of ten vendors failed Sensity's live deepfake attacks.

    Continue reading
  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022