To the eye of the ordinary VR consumer, a virtual reality experience “just works” all thanks to the hardware behind it. Unknowingly, an increasing number of high-performance VR experiences demand a lot of processing power to deliver the best experience to the user. High-end VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift, for example, needs a highly-equipped PC to render a smooth 90 frames per second (fps) virtual reality experience. In the need for processing power to compensate for high-end VR experiences, Sony decided to include an external processor to the PlayStation VR as a result of its extensive internal testing.
While Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have the benefit of increasingly more powerful hardware to work with in order to achieve both high frame rate and resolution, Sony is stuck with using its several year old PS4 hardware design. In the case of simple, non-intense games like Minecraft it isn’t a significant challenge optimize a game for the 1080p headset. However, in the case of experiences like Gran Turismo Sport and other titles looking to delivery modern visual fidelity, the PS4’s underclocked 1.8GHz FX8120 processing unit and HD 7870 graphics card equivalent internals were found to cause bottlenecks in delivering high VR performance. As a result, Sony decided to compensate the performance bottleneck with an external processing unit that’s also equipped with a dedicated cooling unit.
Due to this hardware change, Sony is expected to charge a price difference for the added hardware in the upcoming PlayStation VR headset. With the Oculus Rift priced at no less than $350 for the sole headset itself, Sony is seen to price the PlayStation VR higher than the Rift.
VR has great potential in its use as the future of consumer entertainment, but due to present-day hardware deficiencies it also faces a risk for a fairly low early adoption rate – speaking in the case of the PlayStation 4.
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