Chandrakant IsiMar 17, 2016 08:17:20 IST
Now in its 30th year, GDC 2016 (Game Developers Conference) will encompass innovation on multiple platforms including PC, console, handheld, and even mobile. As usual, there has been a flurry of product announcements at GDC, but unquestionably, VR is the star of the show.
Codenamed Project Morpheus in its developmental phase, PlayStation VR is finally ready for the mainstream. Slated for release in October 2016, this headset is comparatively late to the VR party. What may work in its favour though is the PS4's 40 million install base, competitive pricing and low system requirements. The PlayStation VR will cost $400 a pop, as compared to $800 for the HTC Vive and $600 for the Oculus Rift. Considering that Microsoft hasn't finalised its plan to bring Hololens to the Xbox One, this should give Sony a head start in the console-backed VR space. According to the Japanese company, there are over 230 developers building content for PlayStation VR. Sony also announced that its in-house Playroom VR app featuring six virtual reality games will be made available free to all PS4 users.
The VR headset sports a 5.7-inch screen with a resolution of just 1920x1080, which is very low for VR. Sony has, however, indicated that the device pack in true RGB sub-pixels, meaning that the screen-door effect that plagues low-resolution VR shouldn’t really be a problem.
Of the announced games, London Heist looks incredibly fun. Check out the gameplay video below:
Sulon Q AR/VR Headset
Canadian company, Sulon, has entered the virtual reality space with an AMD powered headset. Although it looks like the Oculus Rift, it is in fact more like Microsoft's Hololens. The device will fuse virtual reality with the real world around you.
Dubbed the Sulon Q, the headset is powered by an AMD FX-8800P processor and a Radeon R7 GPU. All this fits in the headset itself so cable management is not an issue. It runs on Windows 10 and incorporates full support for DirectX 12. You can create a huge virtual computer screen, and work using the wireless keyboard/mouse combo included in the Sulon kit. The company claims that the device delivers console-quality visuals on its 2560x1440 OLED display, which is understandable, given the hardware.
The Sulon Q features spatial audio, much like the Hololens. The device is also fitted with various gesture and motion tracking sensors. Using some perceptual algorithm, the headset lets you explore larger worlds in a relatively small room. The company claims to be applying finishing touches to the product, which should be ready to ship later this year. There is still no word on the price tag though.
AMD's absurdly powerful Radeon Pro Duo GPU
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) unveiled the world's most powerful single slot graphics card. Christened the Radeon Pro Duo, the card is positioned as a platform for VR (virtual reality). To crank up the performance, the company fused two top-end Fiji GPUs onto a single card. It has 8 GB of VRAM shared between GPUs clocked at 1 GHz. The result is a mind-numbing 16 teraflops of computing power. Like most top-end graphics cards these days, the Radeon comes with liquid cooling technology. Of course, you can use it for PC gaming.
Slapping two cards together on one GPU is nothing new however and just because AMD’s slapped a VR Ready logo on it doesn’t mean it’s better for VR than, say, an SLI or X-Fire setup.
The Radeon Pro Duo is the first of many to come in AMD's VR Ready Creator line. The graphics card is expected to launch in the second quarter of 2016 with a $1499 price tag.
Razer Blade 2016
An American company with a focus on gaming, Razer announced a refresh for its Blade series laptops at GDC 2016. The new machine packs in the latest 6th generation Intel Core i7 quad-core processors and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M GPU with 6 GB of VRAM. All the variants of the Blade will feature 16 GB of DDR4 RAM. Storage will be taken care of by SSDs. The 14-inch touchscreen boasts of a 3200x1800 resolution.
Other specifications include Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 4.1, USB-C, USB 3.0 port x3, HDMI, 3.5 mm headphone/microphone combo port, webcam, Dolby Digital Plus Home Theater Edition 7.1 Codec support and a 70 Wh rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery. Similar to the Stealth Ultrabook, this mean machine will feature individually backlit RGB keys. If you ever wanted a rainbow to emanate from your keyboard, this is your chance. Despite the beefy hardware, the laptop is only 0.70 inch thick. It is enclosed in a sleek aluminium body, and weighs in at a little less than 2 kg. The Razer Blade is already up for pre-order and is expected to hit the market next month. The 256 GB version is pegged at $1999 (approx..), whereas the 512 GB variant will burn a $2199 hole in your pocket.
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