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AMD Announces Radeon RX 6000-series GPUs with USB-C “for a modern VR experience”

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AMD today introduced the Radeon RX 6800, 6800 XT, and 6900 XT graphics cards based on its latest RDNA 2 architecture. With a release date in November and prices starting at $580, AMD is aiming to compete directly with NVIDIA’s latest 30-series GPUs. And—better late than never—the RX 6000-series cards include a USB-C port to “power head-mounted displays with just one cable for a modern VR experience.”

Before we dive into details, here’s the release date, price, and basic specs of each card:

RX 6900 XT RX 6800 XT RX 6800
Price $1,000 $650 $580
Release Date December 8th, 2020 November 18th, 2020
Compute Units 80 72 60
Game Clock (GHz) 2.02 2.02 1.82
Boost Clock (GHz) 2.25 2.25 2.11
Memory (GDDR6) 16GB
Connectors DisplayPort 1.4 w/ DSC*, HDMI 2.2 w/ VRR*, USB-C* 2x DisplayPort 1.4 w/ DSC, 1x HDMI 2.2 w/ VRR, 1x USB-C
* connector counts unspecified

See a detailed spec comparison here

Based on its new RDNA 2 architecture, AMD is positioning its 6000-series cards to compete directly with Nvida’s latest 30-series GPUs in price, performance, and features.

Infinity Cache, Ray-tracing, and Smart Access Memory

New to the 6000-series cards, ‘Infinity Cache’ is 128MB of memory directly on the GPU die. AMD says the cache acts as a “bandwidth amplifier” for the rest of the card’s memory; 16GB of GDDR6 combined with the 128MB Infinity Cache increases “effective bandwidth” by up to 3.25 times compared to the same amount of memory without the cache.

“This global cache is seen by the entire graphics core, capturing temporal re-use and enabling data to be accessed instantaneously. Leveraging the best high frequency approaches from Zen architecture, AMD Infinity Cache enables scalable performance for the future,” the company explains.

The 6000-series cards also introduce hardware accelerated ray-tracing with one ‘Ray Accelerator’ per Compute Unit. The card’s ray-tracing tech is based on the DirectX 12 Ultimate implementation; AMD says developers can mix and match rasterization and ray-tracing effects, with “an order of magnitude” improvement in ray-tracing operations compared to the last generation of Radeon cards.

Image courtesy AMD

The company is also introducing a unique feature for users who pair AMD’s 6000-series GPUs with the company’s own 5000-series Ryzen CPUs. Called Smart Access Memory, the company says the feature allows the CPU to access more of the GPUs memory at once, resulting in a performance boost of a few percentage points depending upon the title. While not a groundbreaking change in performance by itself, it’s essentially ‘free’ (if you have the right combination of hardware), and a smart way to leverage the company’s broader hardware portfolio.

A VirtualLink to the Past

AMD’s own versions of the Radeon RX 6000-series cards include USB-C across the board, which, for VR in particular, would allow the cards to support the VirtualLink standard—a USB-C ‘alt-mode’ which was designed to provide VR headsets with data, power, and video through a single port.

Indeed, the company’s marketing says the port can “power head-mounted displays with just one cable for a modern VR experience,” though the timing is pretty odd given that the VirtualLink standard was initially introduced in 2018 and has since been abandoned. On the flip side, Nvidia was early with support for VirtuaLink by including USB-C ports on its first wave of RTX 20-series GPUs, only to eschew the power on the latest 30-series cards.

Still, as far as we know, a USB-C port on the RX 6000-series cards should mean that VirtualLink devices could work just fine, and headset makers could always devise their own single-cable headset connection based on the card’s USB-C port.

Variable Rate Shading

Image courtesy AMD

The RDNA 2 architecture of the 6000-series GPUs also supportS Variable Rate Shading which allows fine-grain control over the shading rate from one frame to the next. This can be used to essentially lower the resolution of some parts of the scene (say dark areas or those without much detail) while maintaining full resolution in important, or high detail parts of the scene.

For VR headsets specifically, the Variable Rate Shading feature opens the door to more precise foveated rendering, which could be static (to match lens distortion) or active (to align with eye movement). AMD hasn’t shown its own VR-specific solution (like Nvidia’s Variable Rate Supersampling) but the underlying tech to support this kind of foveation is there under the hood.

– – — – –

We’ll be looking forward to getting our hands on AMD’s 6000-series cards to see how they handle upcoming high-resolution headsets like HP’s Reverb G2 and memory hungry games like Microsoft Flight Simulator (2020).

Source: https://www.roadtovr.com/amd-radeon-rx-6900-xt-6800-xt-price-release-date-specs/

AR/VR

A Wake Inn Pulls Those Trailer Strings Ahead of a 2021 Release

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There were plenty of virtual reality (VR) titles announced during the week that would normally have been the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), VR Bros’ A Wake Inn being one of them. An immersive horror experience originally slated for this year, the team has just released a new trailer moving the launch to early 2021.

A Wake Inn is a scary title featuring a classic horror staple, mannequins, those lifeless, dead-eyed entities which work so well at terrifying almost everyone. The twist here is that not only is the art deco hotel where the gameplay is set filled with an army of living dolls, you also happen to be one. And then there’s the mysterious Doctor Finnegan, owner of the estate who talks to you via a shortwave transmitter.

The story revolves around you finding out who you are, how you ended up here, and how to get out whilst avoiding the other not so friendly dolls. As VR Bros puts it: “Is it time for the player to take revenge on their maker and set themselves free, or perhaps they’re just a puppet being pulled by its strings?”

In a similar fashion to Last Labyrinth, you’re bound to a wheelchair, making A Wake Inn an entirely seated experience. That’s where the similarity ends, as in this experience you’re given free rein to explore the hotel and figure out its various escape room-style gameplay elements. You operate it just as you would any manual wheelchair, moving the controllers as if pushing the wheels.

Further thought has been put into the gameplay interactions as well, a flashlight for lighting up the darkness which does run out of batteries, a radio with custom stations, and the cinema room where you can watch tapes found around the building.

A Wake Inn will support HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Valve Index when it launches next year. For further updates on this wheeled horror, keep reading VRFocus.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/11/a-wake-inn-pulls-those-trailer-strings-ahead-of-a-2021-release/

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Working Up a Sweat With FitXR’s Dance Workouts

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The UK is nearing the end of its second lockdown and even with that coming to an end plenty of restrictions will still be in place. With the winter weather kicking in and gyms closed if you want to stay healthy at home VR offers an entertaining solution. So VRFocus picked up its Oculus Quest and tried out one of the latest ways to get yourself moving, FitXR’s dance workouts.

FitXR (formerly BoxVR) previously only offered boxing style workouts, hitting pads with jabs, hooks and uppercuts in time to music. The title then diversified this month by adding dance workouts, helping to not only emulate a more traditional fitness class but also add a less stringent gameplay mode.

Selecting between beginner and intermediate classes you’ve got a central fitness instructor to follow who’ll tell you the next move and you simply replicate, easy. There were a number of different workout times depending on how energetic you’re feeling but for the gameplay video below VRFocus kept things nice and easy with a brief 3-minute session.

None of the moves were too complicated but they did get the whole body moving – rather than just the upper body – with the speed stepping up a notch toward the end. Even if the stock, pre-recorded phrases from the trainer occasionally repeat it’s nice hearing them, aiding that motivation on the longer sets. Plus, thanks to FitXR’s multiplayer functionality, you’re joined by others for more of a group workout.

For a bit of added competition if you get the moves spot on then you’ll be awarded points which tally on a live scoreboard behind the trainer. Having a quick glance and seeing where your position is helps to give a little kick, especially if you’re competitive.

The dance-inspired workouts are available on Oculus Quest and Quest 2 as part of the main videogame. For further gameplay videos keep watching VRFocus.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/11/working-up-a-sweat-with-fitxrs-dance-workouts/

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Best VR Engines for Enterprise applications

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Virtual reality (VR) is a simple term that refers to and describes a variety of technologies associated with immersion into a simulated 3D environment. It can be considered primarily as the point where human-computer interaction, computer graphics, computer visions and 3D sensing meet.

Once virtual reality engines were associated with gaming only, but now it has gained momentum in all industries. VR in the enterprise and consumer sector has taken the world of tech by storm. It has transformed from a figment of science fiction imagination into a billion-dollar business. According to expert estimations, the virtual reality (VR) market is forecast to reach 18.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2020, representing a 78% increase in spending from last year.

Virtual reality app development has become a highly competitive space, with several companies offering excellent VR engines for businesses and other large enterprises. With so many VR options available in the market, it is easy for company executives to get confused about the best ones that suit their business. We will look at some of the best VR engines for enterprise applications.

Top VR engines to consider

Amazon Sumerian

The Amazon Sumerian is the virtual reality engine developed by AWS. When using this VR engine, you don’t need 3D graphics or VR programming skills. The engine works with the popular VR platforms, including Oculus Go, HTC Vive Pro, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Google Daydream, and Lenovo Mirage. The Amazon Sumerian engine also works well with Android and iOS mobile devices.

The good thing about this VR engine is that it has numerous enterprise applications. You can use it for cases such as employee education, training simulation, retail & sales, virtual concierge, and field services productivity,

Some of the powerful features of Amazon Sumerian include;

·         Sumerian editor;

·         Sumerian hosts;

·         Asset management;

·         Capability to script the logic in any scene you create.

Amazon Sumerian offers several learning resources that make it easy for you to use the VR engine. The resources have valuable information for virtual reality developers.

Maya

Maya is one of the most widely used VR enterprise applications. The R software development tool from Autodesk is used for various purposes including D animations, motion graphics, and VFX software.

It is currently one of the most powerful VR engines as it is used for various functions such as dynamics, 3D rendering, effects, 3D animation, 3D shading, 3D modelling, motion graphics, pipeline integration, and more.

Unity

Unity is a popular VR engine as it allows you to develop solutions for various sectors. With Unity, you can create VR solutions for sectors like automotive, transportation, manufacturing, media & entertainment, engineering, construction.

The tool comes with numerous perks for developers such as;

  • Artist and designer tools;
  • A powerful editor for creating Unity 3D VR assets;
  • CAD tools; and 
  • Collaboration tools.

Google VR for everyone

Google VR is the engine developed by the search engine giant, Google. The development tool allows you to create an immersive VR experience for your company. The tool and other VR engines are available on the Google VR developer portal.

The Google VR engine can be used to develop VR tools on numerous platforms such as Android, iOS, Unity, Unreal, and web. Google has software development kits (SDKs) for the various VR platforms it supports and can be accessed easily.

The Google VR offers numerous perks, which include;

  • Low cost
  • Easy to set up and use for developing VR apps
  • Various VR platforms available, making it easier for developers to choose.

Final thoughts

Using VR for your business can open up a whole new market for you. The VR engines discussed in this post are some of the best for enterprise applications. They allow virtual reality app development for different purposes and on multiple platforms.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/11/best-vr-engines-for-enterprise-applications/

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Full VR Support Rolling out December for Microsoft Flight Simulator

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It was great news when Asobo Studio revealed back in July that the new version of Microsoft Flight Simulator would feature virtual reality (VR) support, but slightly surprising that the HP Reverb G2 would be the only compatible device to begin with. If you’ve been awaiting further news then wait no longer, the studio has confirmed full support is coming for PC VR headsets next month.

The Microsoft Flight Simulator team held a live developer Q&A yesterday via Twitch where Martial Bossard, Executive Producer at Asobo Studio confirmed the incoming update. “We are going to open the VR for everyone,” he said. “It will also be open to all devices, the Oculus family, Valve family, every family of headset is supported there.”

Head of Microsoft Flight Simulator Jorg Neumann followed that up by saying: “The feedback has been so positive [from the closed beta] that we think we’re ready to put this out before the holiday season.” The VR addition will be part of Sim Update 2 which is dated for 22nd December and will be free.

Further details regarding VR implementation will be revealed during a Feature Discovery Series published on 17th December. As Bossard mentions in the Q&A its not just the main simulator itself which will be VR compatible but also all the menus – alpha players had to remove their headset to navigate these areas.

As the roadmap indicates, Asobo Studio has plenty in store recently releasing a World Update for the US with a World Update for the UK coming in January.

Third-party creator community stats have been released showing that 214 airports have been created so far, with another 48 announced and an additional 118 are in production. 9 aircraft have so far been released another 56 are coming whilst another 20 are on the cards.

Microsoft Flight Simulator gives players the entire world to explore with real-time weather and traffic systems. For further updates on VR compatibility, keep reading VRFocus.

Source: https://www.vrfocus.com/2020/11/full-vr-support-rolling-out-december-for-microsoft-flight-simulator/

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