Oculus ecosystem director Chris Pruett yesterday at the AMA forum said that Oculus Quest will be “significantly faster” than Oculus Go:
“Quest is significantly faster than the Oculus Go in terms of processor and graphics processor. A part is just the raw performance of the chipset itself, but a lot of this is related to the effort we put into the design of the headset and the core rendering architecture. Tracking does not contradict and does not affect the performance of the device.
Oculus Quest is essentially a VR gaming console. This is because the device has built-in “stuffing”, but, unlike Go, it has improved tracking and touch controllers.
While Go has a built-in Snapdragon 821 chipset, Quest uses the newer and faster Snapdragon 835. It is 30% more powerful at less than 40% power consumption.
It's all about cooling
But the chip itself, most likely, is not the main reason for the “significant” increase in performance. As Pruett’s comments suggest, headset design also makes a big contribution to this functionality.
A key element that is often overlooked in the performance of computing equipment is cooling. The limiting factor in smartphones, for example, is not only the performance of the chip, but also the fact that when operating at full speed, it very quickly exceeds its maximum temperature. To avoid damage to the equipment, the chip should then be cooled or even shut off temporarily. Simply put, the device must be built-in protection against overheating.
Oculus Go has a heat pipe, but not a cooler
Thermal throttling is probably the main disadvantage of a VR headset. This can limit graphically intense experience in minutes. To overcome this, a thermal metal pipe is used, which allows it to act as a radiator.
This cooling system allowed Facebook to overclock the Snapdragon 821 and maintain this performance for several hours. As a result, the Oculus Go works “significantly better” than the Galaxy S7 using the same chip.
Quest goes even further with cooling, adding an active cooling fan. This has rarely ever been applied in regards to ARM processors. The new Apple TV and HTC Vive Focus are the only copies known to us in the consumer market.
With an active cooling system, Quest should have a higher clock speed than smartphones or Oculus Go. Yes, he still needs to visualize the image for each eye, but a higher clock frequency should ensure that complex and detailed virtual worlds are drawn. Of course, Quest still does not come close to the power of the PC.
Hardware acceleration to track
Interestingly, headset tracking and the 6DoF controller “do not affect” performance. Developers do not seem to have to worry about this when optimizing their game.
This is because tracking is performed not on the CPU, but on the DSP hexagon — a digital signal processor. DSPs are programmable chips designed specifically for sensors and image processing. Smartphones mainly use DSP to enhance photos taken with their cameras. Quest uses it to track in VR.
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