ARM's Mali-D77 wants to make VR headsets a 'must-have'

The next VR headsets could be lighter and sleeker thanks to ARM

IT’S SAFE TO SAY virtual reality (VR) hasn’t exactly taken the world by storm, but ARM reckons its latest VR-centric chip could help change that.

The Cambridge-based chip designer has taken the covers off its Mali-D77, a new display chip design that aims to improve the performance of standalone VR headsets to help reduce things like motion sickness and visual artefacts.

ARM reckons the new chip design will lead to more than a 40 per cent hike in system bandwidth savings and provide 12 per cent power savings for “VR workloads”.

And with such improvements in place, ARM hopes its chip design will lead to the development of smaller and lighter stand-along VR headsets

Nandan Nayampally, vice president and general manager of ARM’s client line of business, reckons the Mali-D77 will be a “game-changing” bit if display tech for VR.

“Display is the proverbial last mile on the journey to truly untethered and immersive VR experiences. As such, 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,” said Nayampally.

That’s some hyperbole, but we’re seeing improvements in VR headsets all the time, from the high-end ones that need a PC powering them to lower-end goggles that make do with an accompanying smartphone.

As such, the Mali-D77 could be another step in the direction of making VR headsets better at delivering immersive experiences without costing a fortune or needing expensive hardware.

Of course, this requires actual chip makers to incorporate the display chip design into their bits of silicon. That takes time, so the slick VR future ARM is touting may be a year or so off. Yet it’s all a good step in the right direction to make VR more appealing and less of a faff to get started with. µ

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