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VR's biggest players back 'VirtualLink' connector for next-gen VR headsets

AMD, Nvidia, Valve, Oculus and Microsoft are involved

VR's biggest players back 'VirtualLink' connector for next-gen VR headsets

VR's biggest players back 'VirtualLink' connector for next-gen VR headsets

Today's PC-based VR headsets are a pain to setup, requiring a large number of cables, a lengthy setup process and are already hitting the limits of what is possible over standard display interfaces. 

HTC's Vive Pro headset currently requires separate power, USB and DisplayPort connections, while Oculus' Rift headset requires both HDMI and USB connectivity. Wouldn't it be nice if a single cable could drive VR headsets? Cutting down on cable clutter while also simplifying setup. 

Five of VR's biggest players, AMD, Nvidia, Valve, Oculus and Microsoft, have created the VirtualLink consortium, who plan to build a single cable solution to for next-generation VR headsets.  

The group have built a new "open industry standard" called "VirtualLink", acting as an "Alternative Mode" for USB Type-C that can deliver power, display data and input data required to run current and future VR headsets using a single lightweight cable. The cable itself will offer a full USB 3.1 data channel as well as four high-speed HBR3 DisplayPort lanes for display connectivity while also being able to provide up to 27 watts of power to connected headsets.  



VirtualLink has been developed as an open standard by an industry consortium of leading silicon, software, and headset manufacturers led by NVIDIA, Oculus, Valve, Microsoft, and AMD. This open industry standard for VR connectivity advances VR interoperability and provides economic benefits to head-mounted display (HMD) makers, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), developers, and consumers. It will accelerate the development and implementation of new VR technologies.

VR's biggest players back 'VirtualLink' connector for next-gen VR headsets

What remains unknown is how this cable will function in practice, as connecting the cable to either a motherboard or graphics card directly could cause issues, as USB-like data is typically catered to by the motherboard whereas visual data usually resides in the domain of a graphics card. The VirtualLink cable will do both, so data from one portion of a system will need to be routed to another component (either from a motherboard to a GPU or vice-versa) to output to a VR headset, which could cause issues within some future devices. 
  
You can join the discussion on VirtualLink, the new single-cable connector for future VR headsets on the OC3D Forums

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Most Recent Comments

17-07-2018, 11:41:37

sedontane
Quote:
so data from one portion of a system will need to be routed to another component
Or yknow, the time honored "breakout box".
The point is to simplify the cabling going to the headset, offer a direct drive mode, that connects using USB-C only, and a breakout box that connects to USB-C (for data) AND a DP (for video)

Seems obvious to me, I'm sure they've thought of it.

Laptops, with the tighter integration, will likely support the Direct drive USB-C option, as I think TB3 already support display channels over USB-C right?Quote

17-07-2018, 12:55:48

Emu
Quote:
Originally Posted by sedontane View Post
Or yknow, the time honored "breakout box".
The point is to simplify the cabling going to the headset, offer a direct drive mode, that connects using USB-C only, and a breakout box that connects to USB-C (for data) AND a DP (for video)

Seems obvious to me, I'm sure they've thought of it.

Laptops, with the tighter integration, will likely support the Direct drive USB-C option, as I think TB3 already support display channels over USB-C right?
The point of the standard is to make breakout boxes irrelevant.

What I would do in this situation is either add a USB3.1 controller to the GPU or have a internal connector on the graphics card that will plug into a motherboard USB3.1 header. Adding the USB3.1 controller would probably easier but would add some extra cost to the GPU. PCIe v4.0 (which the new Vega cards apparently support) would help alleviate the extra data transfers required.Quote

17-07-2018, 23:31:42

Kleptobot
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emu View Post
The point of the standard is to make breakout boxes irrelevant.

What I would do in this situation is either add a USB3.1 controller to the GPU or have a internal connector on the graphics card that will plug into a motherboard USB3.1 header. Adding the USB3.1 controller would probably easier but would add some extra cost to the GPU. PCIe v4.0 (which the new Vega cards apparently support) would help alleviate the extra data transfers required.
The additional cost of a usb controller on the GPU is not just in the BOM (bill of materials), but additional engineering to make sure the compatibility required by the USB standard is maintained.

This goes along with what is running the controller, does the gpu now need an additional co processor just to run the USB?

Then there are additional support issues, that come along with delivering extra functionality etc. Its not like gpu's are known for having robust drivers anyway

the overall initial outlay costs are pretty significant. I doubt any graphics card manufacturer would be wanting to take all that on, regardless of weather its the most elegant solutionQuote

18-07-2018, 05:59:42

demonking
Am I missing something?
Surely a single connection on the HMD and a split between USB-C and Display port the other end would suffice?
As said previous the cost and time to get GPU manufacturers to integrate this into their GPU's is un-realistic.
Not being funny but I don't blame Nvidia because I have to plug HDMI into the GPU, Power into the wall and USB cable to I/O (for the Hub on board) for my monitor.
though saying that we could push this to Monitors too.... imagine a single cable for a monitor!Quote

18-07-2018, 07:54:55

tgrech
Yep, a breakout box in itself wouldn't be required. USB Type-Cs lane based system means there would be no active components required; A passive breakout cable or small connector would more than suffice. Physically it could essentially be a Type-C to twin Type-C cable(One for the motherboard(USB/Power) and one for the GPU if separate), combining the required individual lanes of each connector into one as required(IE No lanes themselves mix, only the collection of them).Quote
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