Qualcomm XR2Source: Qualcomm

What you need to know

  • Qualcomm has introduced its latest chipset designed for AR and VR — the XR2.
  • The XR2 has more than double the CPU and GPU performance of the XR1, and it also offers 5G connectivity.
  • It also facilitates up to seven on-device cameras at once, leading to better head tracking.
  • The first hardware featuring the XR2 could show up sometime next year.

Qualcomm already powers a whole host of VR devices — including the portable Oculus Quest — and the manufacturer is looking to extend its lead in this category with its latest mixed reality chipset, the Snapdragon XR2. The XR2 is designed to complement the XR platform by offering beefier hardware and 5G capabilities.

The XR2 chipset has a host of improvements that allow it to stand out. First and foremost is the fact that it offers 5G connectivity, with Qualcomm noting that the XR2 is the first mixed reality chipset to do so. 5G is still in its nascent stages, but Qualcomm is going all-in on the next-generation of cellular connectivity in the hopes that it will give the chip vendor an unassailable lead in this segment.

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The XR2 is also the first chipset to facilitate 3K by 3K resolution for each eye at 90fps as well as 8K 360-degree video playback. Qualcomm says its custom silicon is designed to lower latency and provide a smoother experience for AR and VR use cases. It supports up to seven on-device cameras simultaneously, which should lead to much more reliable tracking and more immersive mixed reality use cases. The chipset also offers 3D spatial sound, and the CPU and GPU performance has more than doubled from the XR1.

As for when you'll see the chipset in consumer hardware, Qualcomm says the XR2 should be available sometime next year. We'll have to wait and see for the final hardware, but if it looks anywhere like the reference goggles pictured above, the XR2 could be the hardware that takes VR into the mainstream.

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