Oculus is introducing a new frame-extrapolation technique called Asynchronous Spacewarp (ASW) that has brought down the minimum PC requirements needed to run its Rift hardware. According to the Facebook-owned VR outfit, ASW “almost halves the CPU/GPU time required to produce nearly the same output from the same content”.
This means that users can now enjoy Oculus Rift on lesser hardware requirements than before – you now need an Nvidia GeForce 960 or higher, plus Intel Core i3-6100 / AMD FX4350 or greater. That’s a step down from the earlier minimum system specs: Nvidia GeForce 970, and Intel i5-4590. You can’t run that on Windows 7 SP1 though, as the new ASW technique only works on Windows 8 or higher.
"[ASW] will be enabled across all ranges of hardware and systems that support the feature, and activated for all applications,” Oculus said in a blog post.
To go with the announcement, the company also launched a new Oculus Ready PC at its Oculus Event on Sunday. The new CyberPowerPC is equipped with Radeon RX 470 and AMD FX 4350, and costs just $499 (Rs. 33,500). By comparison, when Oculus Rift launched in March this year, Oculus Ready PCs started at $949 (Rs. 63,500).
Oculus said ASW is meant to complement the existing Asynchronous Timewarp (ATW) feature, which tracks the user’s head rotation. ASW, meanwhile, covers “character movement, camera movement, Touch controller movement, and the player's own positional movement”.
Put in simpler terms, while ATW is great for images at a distance, ASW is really good for objects rendered up close. ASW’s extrapolation technique lets VR experiences run “at up to half rate”, Oculus said.
Oculus also announced two new features - Oculus Avatars and Oculus First Contact.
Starting December 6, you can design your own avatar by choosing a face, hairstyle, eyewear, clothing and texture effects. Oculus said that avatars would soon be available on the Gear VR platform as well.
Oculus First Contact is meant as an initiation experience meant to get Rift users acquainted with Oculus Touch controllers - shipping December 6 as well - featuring an "'80s sci-fi throwback" robot. In it, you can fire toy guns or even 3D print holographic butterflies.