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AMD bets big on virtual reality with new cards, partnerships

Mark Hachman | March 15, 2016
Having trailed behind both Intel and Nvidia in the PC graphics market in recent years, AMD is preparing to go all in on virtual reality.

AMD’s VR-ready certifications

Both of those devices must be tethered to an external PC to get the graphics horsepower necessary to make their VR come alive, especially in terms of the 90 frames per second needed to ensure a smooth experience. AMD also announced a pair of “certifications” to help users choose a system—powered by AMD chips, of course. 

“Radeon VR Ready Premium” systems will contain Radeon R9 290-class graphics cards, AMD said, such as the HP Envy Phoenix. “Radeon VR Ready Creator” series will be the corresponding label for VR developers. 

The latter certification will presumably be assigned to PCs seeded by Crytek, as part of its VR First technology initiative. The initial VR First Lab at Bahçeşehir University in Istanbul is already up and running in January of this year, AMD said. 

Those labs will include PCs built with the new AMD Radeon Pro Duo graphics cards, AMD said. The Radeon Pro Duo is essentially two of its Radeon R9 Fury X GPUs shoehorned into one card. The price? An estimated $1,500, which will probably be out of reach for most consumers, but part of the budget for content creators. 

Can AMD resuscitate its fortunes on the back of the virtual reality industry? For now, VR appears to be a niche market, and a rather premium one at that. But AMD has always marketed its chips as offering comparable performance at a lower power draw—and if untethered AR/VR headsets become a viable category, then AMD could be in a good position to fill demand.  


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