VR and AR have steadily remained platforms with potential. However, virtual reality got the most attention with Snapdragon dedicating XR series chips for the lineup. While the company does have its line of AR Smart Viewer Reference glasses design, they were powered by the XR series. However, after seeing future potential and competition from the likes of Meta, Snapdragon has officially unveiled the AR2 Gen 1, the company’s dedicated chip for augmented reality. Packing a ton of features including improved performance compared to the reference design, AR2 Gen 1 is exciting. Check out all the details here.
Purpose Built for AR
Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 is the company’s dedicated solution for AR headsets and therefore sets a precedent. The new platform has been built from the ground up to keep a fresh focus on augmented reality. The company’s intention behind the AR2 Gen 1 is to unlock a new generation of sleek, highly capable glasses. This should help create an intricate mixture of the metaverse combined with real-life elements. AR2 Gen 1 focuses on helping businesses create premium AR headsets, and thus, offer performance befitting that while keeping things portable.
Distributed Processing Architecture
To purpose-build the AR2 Gen 1 for AR, Snapdragon has created a multi-chip distributed processing system with customized IP Blocks. This has been done to create a balance between performance, power, and size. As such, a good amount of attention has been paid to portability and power consumption.
This means that the AR Gen 2 is a multi-chip solution that has been divided into an AR processor, a co-processor, and a connectivity platform. When working in tandem, these chips carry the processing load on the AR glasses. However, Snapdragon has revealed that the AR2 Gen 1 won’t be a standalone solution. The AR glasses will require a Snapdragon-compatible host device like a smartphone or SD laptop, which will handle other complex tasks.
Snapdragon has taken the multi-chip solution literally and has carefully placed the modules on different parts of the glasses. The main AR processor handling perception and display output will be at the arm of the glasses. The co-processor taking care of sensors, AI, and computer vision will be located at the bridge. Meanwhile, the connectivity module will also be located on the arms.
Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 also reflects that with its 40% smaller PCB area compared to the AR Smart Viewer Reference design with XR 2 while consuming 50% less power. Wire density has also been reduced by 45%, helping make newer AR glasses slimmer from all areas. It translates to AR glasses that will use as little as 1W power.
Processor Distribution Increases Efficiency
The purpose-built Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1’s main processor is based on a 4nm platform that houses a dedicated visual analytics block. This allows the processor to deal with hardware-accelerated perception data directly on the AR glasses. This essentially translates to the glasses intelligently tracking objects around the user and understanding them through the support of up to 9 concurrent cameras.
Powering the other side is Qualcomm’s reprojection engine block that will stabilize transmitted information in real-time. This will ensure the AR experience feels seamless to the user without any hiccups.
The co-processor on the Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 has been created to make the glass design simplistic while giving more AI information to them. Snapdragon claims it will help the AR glasses be slimmer while reducing the number of wires. As such, the co-processor handles sensory aggregation, AI, and computer vision. This helps the co-processor handle tasks like eye tracking, biometric info, and other tasks. The co-processor keeps a focus on what the user is looking at to reduce power consumption.
The final part of this chip design is the connectivity platform that houses the world’s first AR Wi-Fi 7. The platform is based on Qualcomm FastConnect 7800 which helps the glass and host connection have latency as low as <2ms.
By intelligently distributing and optimizing various chips, Snapdragon has created a combination that supersedes its AR Viewer Reference design powered by the XR 2 chip. Even after slimming the AR glasses down considerably, the performance factor remains high. The SD AR2 Gen 1 comes with 2.5x better AI performance compared to the XR 2 across areas like hand tracking, object recognition, and more.
While there is no definite availability of the Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 powered glasses, the company has partnered with a series of OEMs to create their own AR2 Gen 1 powered experiences.
This includes the likes of companies like Lenovo, LG, nreal, OPPO, Mi, TCL, and many more. Depending on the OEM, AR experiences must be in development and their experiences will either be consumer or commercial based. Only time will tell if we’ll see any Snapdragon AR 1 Gen 2-powered experiences soon.
Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 Breathes Life into AR
As the development of immersive tech expands, advancements like the Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 are a solution in the right direction. With a good combination of performance and power, the chip is poised to power AR experiences that might become the norm. The AR2 Gen 1 should also help create AR glasses that are finally slim for once and don’t feel like a burden. What do you think about it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.