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15 May, 2019 - 19:51 By Jamie Quested

Arm to take VR to next level and eliminate motion sickness from the experience

Nandan Nayampally of Arm

Arm aims to take virtual reality to the next level with a new processing unit which it says will eliminate motion sickness from the whole VR experience.

The Cambridge-headquartered company has unveiled its Mali™-D77 display processing unit (DPU) which it says will take VR forward by tackling display challenges head-on. Arm says its new processor delivers superior VR performance for head-mounted displays (HMD) and is optimised for 3K120.

Nandan Nayampally, vice president and general manager, Client Line of Business, Arm, said: “Considering that Arm-based chips power 99 per cent of the world’s smartphones today, I often get asked: with all the innovation, what’s still holding the industry back from delivering a true virtual reality (VR) experience?”

The new processing unit offers bandwidth savings of 40 per cent, power savings of 12 per cent for VR workloads and enables development of smaller, lighter, more comfortable untethered VR devices, scaling from HMDs to standard premium mobile displays.

Nayampally continued: “As consumer interest in this space continues to grow, so do the demands on the technology. While desktop solutions have shown what is possible in terms of performance, it still delivers a constrained and tethered experience. Users want to see greater immersion and smoother performance, of course, but from untethered, lighter devices. 

“Yet developing the hardware to meet the performance demand, while maintaining the required efficiency for an untethered experience that consumers crave remains a challenge. At the heart of this challenge is the display, which sets the tone for the VR on devices, from the quality of the visuals to latency.

“Enabling VR to be a common part of the user experience on billions of devices worldwide is the long-term goal. Arm is meeting the challenge with the all new Arm® Mali™-D77 display processing unit (DPU) which will take VR to the next level by tackling display challenges head-on.

Arm says that the VR acceleration functions the company has added to Mali-D77 are what sets it apart from other display processors in market. 

Mali-D77 enables offloading of specific compute functions from GPU to DPU leading to higher quality visuals and eliminating motion sickness, freeing up more GPU cycles and associated system bandwidth. 

Other Mali-D77 enhanced capabilities include:

  • •Lens Distortion Correction (LDC): pre-distorts the images to counter the effect of the lens so that when they are viewed through the lenses of any 
  • VR headset they appear correct and undistorted.
  • Chromatic Aberration Correction (CAC): pre-separates the color channels in the opposite direction in order to counteract the blurring effect caused by the lenses of the VR headset.
  • Asynchronous Timewarp (ATW): translates and re-projects the virtual scene based on the latest head pose and position of the headset in the 3D space.
  • Bandwidth and power savings for consumer-friendly devices.

Nayampally added: “More consumer-friendly VR devices that are lighter, smaller, untethered, and comfortable will be enabled by the system bandwidth and power consumption savings from the Mali-D77.

“Beyond VR head-mounted displays (HMDs), the versatile Mali-D77 brings benefits to other devices, displays and use cases. For example, Mali-D77 can be integrated into a common SoC platform with existing developer ecosystems for switching across multiple devices such as a VR HMD to LCD/OLED large or small screens capable of displaying 4K HDR scenes. By doing this, VR devices can become more affordable and accessible to consumers.”

On completing the journey to truly untethered and immersive VR experiences, Nayampally said: “We designed the Mali-D77 with the goal of accelerating this journey for both hardware and software developers to show consumers what’s possible, and turn untethered VR from being a nice-to-have to a must-have.

Working with Arm on the initiative, Jeff Lukanc, senior director of Marketing, Synaptics, a leader in human interface hardware and software, said: “The Mali-D77 DPU is exactly the product needed in the market to drive higher resolutions (over 1000ppi) VR displays. 

“Arm and Synaptics are in an early collaboration phase to enable an optimal solution for foveated transport across Mali-GPU, Mali-D77 and Synaptics’ R63455 VR display solution with the ultimate aim of driving higher resolution without increasing the overall cost for future VR devices.”

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