AMD acquires Nitero to up its VR cred

neon digital virtual reality person

Cord cutting is not just for television.

It is for VR and AR experiences, also. That is why AMD has acquired Nitero, and company that provides technology to connect VR headsets wirelessly to PCs. This isn't the first time wireless VR headsets are making a splash in this space, but it is still big deal. 

In IT Blogwatch, we think about the future. 

So what is going on? Jose Vilches shares some background:

Going wireless is the next major leap for PC-powered VR headsets...Looking to take a part in this AMD has announced it is acquiring Nitero, a company that builds wireless chips for streaming virtual reality content from desktop computers to headsets.

What does Nitero have that AMD wants? Brittany A. Roston has the details:

AMD...has acquired the company’s key engineers, as well as its intellectual property...Of particular interest appears to be Nitero’s phased-array beamforming millimeter wave chip, which make it possible to have a VR or AR experience sans wires thanks to 60Ghz wireless tech...this technology could address VR’s biggest issue -- the PC-to-headset cable tether -- changing the way VR games are played.

Doesn't this represent a change in how AMD approaches VR and AR? Natalie Gagliordi explains how:

Up to this point, AMD's efforts in...VR and AR...have revolved around its CPUs inside VR-ready PCs. With this acquisition, AMD is making a pivot toward the wireless VR space, which many consider to be the end-goal for virtual reality headsets.

So what exactly does AMD plan to do with Nitero? Agam Shah is in the know:

Nitero's intellectual property will be used to allow other vendors to build wireless headsets...AMD...will serve as a one-stop shop for other vendors developing virtual reality products because it has the CPU, GPU, and now Nitero's high-bandwidth wireless technology.
Nitero holds many patents...based on establishing stable wireless connections using WiGig technology. To implement Nitero technology, chipsets would be required in both the device running VR applications and the wirelessly connected headsets...By tying VR headsets to PCs wirelessly, AMD could sell more PC chips and graphics cards.

But there are already other wireless VR headsets out there, right? Steven Lynch has that info:

There is no question that the industry is moving away from traditional tethered VR [head-mounted displays] (HMDs)...a company called Quark building a wireless system for the Vive, and we also spent some time with the wireless upgrade kit from TPCAST back in November. DisplayLink is working on wireless HMD technology, and so is KwikVR. We recently spent time with Sixa's wireless Rivvr HMD kit...Even MIT is in on the action.

Back to the issue at hand, though. Is there anything else behind the acquisition? Patrick Moorhead sure thinks so:

AMD was one of the first...big chipmaker to make a significant bet on doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch to think that they would want to increase their commitment to the space by acquiring another chip maker in the space.
This acquisition...really comes down to the fact that AMD wants to take more...control of the VR experience. By doing that, AMD also ensures their seat at the table...Nitero is very engaged with many HMD makers and the VR ecosystem...The acquisition could also allow AMD to claim their technology is inside of many of the HMDs...AMD can also use this acquisition to forge closer relationships with HMD makers to optimize even more for their GPU technologies as well as their new found wireless technologies.

So what do users think about all this? Ivan Bereziuk‏ seems to be on board:

It is a big deal. Crop the cable!!!

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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