SteamVR will implement a technology for low-end GPUs

Alfred Osborne
October 21, 2018

The headsets are rapidly declining in price, sure, but having the optimal experience still requires expensive hardware that many gamers don't have in their systems.

The biggest inhibition to the spread of VR is not the cost of the headsets, which are available for as little as $200-$300, but the cost of the PCs needed to drive them, with high-end computers with dedicated graphics cards required for acceptable performance.

SteamVR developers have announced a new feature called Motion Smoothing that enables users to play hi-fi VR games and experiences on more PCs.

It's in the latter category that Valve's SteamVR Motion Smoothing fits. 'TVs apply Motion Smoothing by interpolating between two existing frames to create a new in-between frame. This technique works in a similar way to what many current TVs do. It looks at the last two delivered frames, estimates motion and animation and extrapolates a new frame.

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Steam VR will then drop a videogame or application's frame-rate from 90fps down to 45fps, generating one of the synthetic frames for every real one, to mimic 90fps.

To get the ideal HTC Vive experience, for example, players will need some pretty beefy hardware - an Intel i5-4590 and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or better are ideal, according to Vive's official website. The trouble is, TV-based Motion Smoothing can also add a not-insignificant amount of latency. "Synthesizing new frames keeps the current application at a full frame rate, moves forward and avoids stuttering".

The company explained: "When SteamVR sees that an application isn't going to make framerate (i.e. start dropping frames), Motion Smoothing kicks in". SteamVR Motion Smoothing effectively "synthesizes" multiple frames into a single frame to reduce the workload. It's now only enabled for PCs running Windows 10 with an Nvidia GPU and HTC Vive, as Oculus Rift and Windows Mixed Reality drivers handle things differently.

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