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Qualcomm’s New Snapdragon XR2 5G Reference Design Opens the Door to Truly Wireless On-Demand 8K XR Experiences
by Olivier Blanchard | February 26, 2020

The News: Qualcomm just released a new reference design for the latest iteration of its XR (VR/AR/MR) platform –  the Snapdragon XR2 5G. The prototype headset, designed in cooperation with Goertek, aims to give device-makers guidance on how to build XR headsets using Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon XR2 5G chipset and RFFE solutions. As the name suggests, the Snapdragon XR2 5G platform supports 5G wireless connectivity, but it also brings significant additional performance improvements to its predecessor – the XR1:

  • 5G connectivity
  • Support for 8K 360-degree video at 60fps
  • 4x the video bandwidth as the XR1
  • 6x the resolution of the XR1
  • Immersive 3D sound
  • Support for up to 7 concurrent cameras, including:
    • 2 internal cameras for eye tracking
    • 4 external cameras (2 RGB cameras for MR experiences and 2 for head tracking and generating accurate depth maps)
    • 1 slot for a lip-tracking or device-tracking camera
  • Always-on voice activation and contextual awareness
  • Hand and head tracking with simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM)
  • Peripheral device tracking
  • Roughly twice the CPU performance of the XR1
  • Roughly twice the GPU performance of the XR1
  • A much more powerful AI engine
  • Atraxa electromagnetic tracking technology from Northern Digital Inc (accurate, low latency 6DoF controller and peripheral device-tracking with no line-of-sight restrictions)
  • Compatibility with embedded eye tracking from Tobii

For Qualcomm’s full Snapdragon XR2 5G press release, click here.

Qualcomm’s New Snapdragon XR2 5G Reference Design Opens the Door to Truly Wireless On-Demand 8K quality XR Experiences.

Analyst Take: Qualcomm’s XR1 platform nearly two years ago, was a strong first step in the world of XR-dedicated SOCs, and showed off some of the San Diego chipmaker’s wireless-adjacent prowess. (In addition to its focus on XR, the company is also quickly cementing its leadership in other mobile and 5G-adjacent areas, like connected vehicles, the IoT, and AI.) The Snapdragon XR2 5G is a significant leap forward, with a range of 2x to 11x improvements over its predecessor across most of its feature sets, from 360-degree video quality to processing power.  If nothing else, the ability for the platform to merge ultra-high resolution 8K 360 video at 60fps with the low latency of 5G connectivity means that lag-free wireless VR experiences are finally within reach. But this platform isn’t limited to VR. Its ability to support 7 cameras, eye-tracking, hand a head tracking, and peripheral device tracking make the platform a true XR (extended reality) platform: it can allow users to blend their VR experiences with their physical surroundings to achieve a broad range of uses – from gaming and entertainment to education, training, and industrial applications.  The headset prototype works as a reference design for OEMs looking to build consumer-facing AND industrial products around the Snapdragon XR2 5G platform. Equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon™ X55 5G Modem and RF System, it delivers native support for Sub-6 GHz and mmWave bands, facilitating the development of XR products that will accomodate networks around the globe. This compatibility should provide OEMs and developers the flexibility they need to quickly develop products for both public and private networks regardless of the limitations of their markets. (Note that OEMs don’t have to implement ALL of the Snapdragon XR2 5G’s features in their headsets, however, so we may see Qualcomm’s newest XR-dedicated SOC turn up in premium headsets as well as more trimmed-down versions, depending on the headset’s specific purpose and/or price elasticity in a particular market.)  This reference design is a well-timed springboard for th XR industry and for Qualcomm, as the Snapdragon XR2 5G platform should finally give OEMs the tools they need to accelerate the development of viable, powerful, and reliable 5G-capable premium XR headsets over the course of the coming year. Futurum Research provides industry research and analysis. These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice. Latest insights from the Futurum Research team: Qualcomm’s Virtual MWC Event Reveals Big Wins for Snapdragon 865 China Chipping Away at Smart Speaker Market as Amazon Maintains Lead Amazon, the US Government and the JEDI Contract–Futurum Tech Podcast Nvidia Breaks Revenue Records in Data Center as AI Demand Surges Image Credit: Qualcomm 

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