In the final ideal form of the Metaverse, the demand for computing resources is almost infinite.
He Baohong, director of the Cloud Computing and Big Data Research Institute of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, pointed out that the Metaverse has entered the 3D Internet era where virtuality and reality are integrated, and the demand for computing power has increased exponentially. Relevant predictions show that, according to the concept of the Metaverse, at least 10 times the 6th power of the current computing power is required.
Can the Metaverse succeed? The industry has been debating this. However, it seems that many technology giants are actively deploying the Metaverse market.
Industry giants making high-profile forays into Metaverse chips
At the GTC summit held by NVIDIA in April 2021, NVIDIA CEO Huang Renxun gave a keynote speech of 1 hour and 48 minutes, and 14 seconds were attended by “digital stand-ins”. Not only is the person a stand-in, but Huang Renxun’s iconic leather jacket, the kitchen with a fireplace, and all the objects on the table are simulated images rendered by software technology. These 14 seconds are not only the promotion of Nvidia Omniverse, but also the active coverage of the Metaverse track. The avatar Toy-Jensen showed people the amazing computing power of the Omniverse. Huang Renxun said that they will promote the development of AI in various industries.
At the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference on April 22, 2022, Shen Wei, NVIDIA’s global vice president and general manager of professional visual computing in Asia Pacific, pointed out that digital twins and digital humans have the most potential development direction in the short term and is investing heavily in research. NVIDIA is actively developing chips related to the Metaverse, and its own advantages lie in its chip design and computing power. Nvidia can be said to be using its own advantages to open up the Metaverse market.
On April 15, Arm Technology (China) Co., Ltd. and Rokid announced that they had reached a strategic cooperation agreement on terminal chips and ecological construction for Metaverse applications. Arm Technology will rely on the local self-developed core power XPU intelligent data stream fusion computing platform and the extensive Arm technology ecosystem to empower the design of Metaverse terminal chips, and provide Rokid with a new AR solution with high computing power and low power consumption. To meet the specific needs of a new generation of Metaverse terminals.
According to the cooperation agreement between the two parties, Arm Technology and Rokid will create a complete customized design, verification and testing scheme for AR chips based on the core power XPU intelligent data stream fusion computing platform, and cooperate in the development of software and algorithms on AR chips. Transplantation and optimization open up the development of a new super-domain multi-functional intelligent computing platform architecture in the Metaverse Terminal.
The Metaverse requires a lot of data transmission and exchange. Achieving these goals requires an excellent network and RF front-end.
VR/AR chips are the core components that give VR hardware performance. Qualcomm is the dominant supplier in the market, and its Snapdragon XR series has become the choice of almost all VR devices today.
In 2021, Microsoft’s mixed reality headset HoloLens 2 already uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 chip. Qualcomm has also laid out AR/VR-related chips early on, such as the Snapdragon extended reality XR2 chip used in smartphones.
On January 4, 2022, Qualcomm announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2022) that it will cooperate with Microsoft. Microsoft and Qualcomm will jointly develop customized Snapdragon chips for use in AR glasses, further increasing the support for Microsoft Mesh platform and Qualcomm. Qualcomm Snapdragon spaces are supported by the two major AR development platforms for consumers and enterprises to use Metaverse applications, further promoting the Microsoft Metaverse ecosystem. The two companies will work together to develop custom chips that integrate software that developers can use to create virtual worlds where users can work and play.
On March 21, 2022, Qualcomm announced that it will set up a $100 million Snapdragon Metaverse fund and launch the Snapdragon Space XR developer platform. The Snapdragon Metaverse Fund will invest in companies researching XR experiences and related AR and artificial intelligence technologies.
Chip design giant AMD has thrown out 7 blockbuster new products at the 2022 CES conference.
For example, in terms of performance, the Ryzen 7 5800X3D processor, which can beat Intel’s strongest CPU 12900K; the latest Ryzen 6000 series mobile processors, which can increase the GPU performance by 100% and allow the laptop to last for more than 24 hours on a single charge. AMD also released a number of products such as the RX 6500XT, the new Zen 4 architecture using TSMC’s 5nm process, and the Ryzen 7000 series CPU, which can significantly improve the number of game frames.
AMD said that the above-mentioned chips will be upgraded one after another, and it hopes to support the related computing of the Metaverse in the future.
In addition, industry giants such as Apple, Meta, and Magic Leap are likely to continue in the direction of self-development and customization. According to foreign media reports, Apple has completed the design of VR/AR chips in 2020, and commissioned TSMC to produce 5nm advanced process chips. From Qualcomm to Apple, they have devoted their efforts to the core field of chips. It is foreseeable that the chips of VR/AR products will usher in a period of accelerated development.
A complete Metaverse requires multiple technologies and trends
The Metaverse is a combined trend. There are many important, decentralized and independent development trends and technologies in the Metaverse, such as: blockchain technology, interactive technology, video game technology, artificial intelligence technology, network and computing technology, Internet of Things and Smart hardware, etc. Various technical components will interact to create a parallel world that can enhance physical and virtual reality (VR), and chips with these ultra-high computing power must be based on quantum computing technology, quantum science chips and AI technology to build and realized. Various fields are also seeking different solutions for how to make Metaverse chips.
Three solutions to core-making in the Metaverse
Stacking AI computing power: This solution is represented by the cooperation between Meta and NVIDIA. At the beginning of the year, Meta and Nvidia announced that they will jointly build the world’s fastest AI supercomputer, and this supercomputer will use 16,000 GPUs. Mate’s logic is also very straightforward, whether it is in VR/AR or even on mobile phones. , a large number of users will be involved in the future, and there will be a lot of simulation environment and rendering work. Image generation and content review need to be completed through AI computing.
Building XPU: Qualcomm and HiSilicon firmly believe that the arrival of the Metaverse will inevitably be accompanied by a brand-new terminal. As chip manufacturers, they are also greatly releasing their capabilities. For example, HiSilicon provides 8K decoding capabilities, and Qualcomm provides support for multiple cameras. It has done a lot of research on the power consumption of the chip, and won the AR market in one fell swoop after the upstream and downstream partners complete the industry chain.
Integration route: The representatives of the integration route are Arm Technology (China) Co., Ltd. and Rokid. Amou Technology has rich experience in customized chip design, especially terminal equipment chips, and Rokid is a mainstay manufacturer in the field of human-computer interaction hardware. Amou Technology and Rokid’s product-led model can improve the Metaverse. Experienced AR glasses will be launched as soon as possible, which will increase the market share of AR glasses while expanding sales.
The Metaverse is expected to enter a more advanced stage in 2023 or 2024.
This phase will require AR cloud, spatial positioning, sensor fusion, spatial orientation and retrieval, multimodal user interface, advanced virtual assistants (e.g. standalone displays), interoperability, data integration, 5G, distributed ledgers, IoT, deep Neural Networks (DNNs) as well as Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications that will complement current solutions.
The emerging domestic market
Under the upsurge of Metaverse in the technology and venture capital circles, the AR/VR core chips under the spotlight have attracted much attention. At present, the core chips for AR and VR are mainly foreign manufacturers, but as the AR and VR market further matures, China has also made it a top priority to seek industrial breakthroughs.
Huawei: Holographic Internet is the next generation Internet
In an interview with the media on March 22, Jiang Guowen, a blue army consultant and independent enterprise consultant expert of Huawei, mentioned that there are two main routes for manufacturers to invest in the “Metaverse”. “One dimension is the fields in which revenue can currently be seen, such as VR/AR hardware, VR vocational education and training and auxiliary experiments, and VR/AR games. Through VR/AR remote operation, remote driving, in these industries can Choose leading companies to invest. Another dimension is the long-term dimension. Many technologies have not yet appeared, and I don’t even know what the business is, but there are many basic technologies that are necessary.” Jiang Guowen said.
Xiaomi: Lay a good IoT ecological foundation and do a good job in technical reserves
On January 4, 2022, Xiaomi invested in Shenzhen Sitan Technology Co., Ltd. Sitan Technology is mainly responsible for the development, production and sales of Micro LED technology. At present, Sitan Technology’s Micro LED chips have entered the pilot line stage, and Sitan Technology plans to achieve mass production of small and medium-sized display screen chips around 2023.
Two months after investing in Sitan Technology, Xiaomi once again invested in a company that develops AR optical display modules – Zhige Technology. Zhige Technology is a high-tech enterprise incubated by the Department of Precision Instruments of Tsinghua University. It has previously received strategic investment from OPPO. It is reported that the diffractive optical waveguide lens used in the previously released OPPO Air Glass is from Zhige Technology. Zhige Technology, which was both fancy by Xiaomi and OPPO, may successfully enter the supply chain of Xiaomi and OPPO VR/AR equipment with its own diffractive optical waveguide lenses.
OPPO: Take the lead in launching the “Metaverse”, both content ecology and talent cultivation
On February 9, OPPO participated in the Series A financing of Chenjing Technology. Chenjing Technology is a company focusing on space intelligence technology and is committed to building a 3D Metaverse infrastructure. Previously, OPPO participated in the angel round of financing of Chenjing Technology in June 2021, helping it complete tens of millions of dollars in financing. Another company that OPPO has invested in, Ruisizhixin, its main business is to independently develop machine vision sensor chips, which can be used in AR/VR and other fields.
vivo: AR is far away from commercial use, seeking talents with an annual salary of millions
On December 17, 2021, Vivo Vice President and Dean of Vivo AI Global Research Institute, Wei Zhou mentioned that the Metaverse is still at a relatively early stage, and it will take several years for some AR devices to be practical and accurate.The commercialization process of AR is not particularly smooth, and the content and services cannot keep up. “But there are a lot of things we can prepare in advance,” he said.
Recently, vivo has also begun to look for XR chip design talents with an annual salary of millions. From this point of view, vivo is picking up the VR/AR field again and laying out the “Metaverse”.
In addition, there are many manufacturers engaged in chip design, such as Huaxia Core and Yuanhe Semiconductor.
Huaxia Core has been engaged in the design of independent intellectual property chip architecture for a long time, enabling CPU, DSP, GPU and artificial intelligence to achieve efficient collaborative computing, greatly reducing the development threshold of AR and VR software, and is conducive to the establishment of AR and VR ecosystems. In addition, Yuanhe Semiconductor is one of the few chip companies in the world that integrates display and computing, greatly improving the performance between computing and display chips and reducing cost synergies.
Yuanhe Semiconductor’s main business is the design, R&D and sales of core chips in AR, VR and other application fields, adhering to the industry concept of leading innovation. Yuanhe Semiconductor is one of the few chip companies in the world that integrates display and computing with the help of cross-platform integration at the technology and application levels, which greatly improves the performance between computing and display chips and reduces the cost of synergies.
AR chips and China
In terms of display chips, the display chips of AR/VR devices currently on the market are not strong enough, with poor display effects, and lack the overall design of key optical modules, resulting in products that are too bulky and have poor wearing feeling, which cannot meet the needs of future large-scale applications. Field of view, high resolution, high refresh rate, low power consumption, portable wear, etc.
In terms of computing chips, in order to realize the realistic reflection of a drop of water on the scene, and the special effects of the smoke filled with smoke when the cigar is burning, it is necessary to increase the computing power of the chip by ten million times and the image processing ability to expand by ten million. The immersiveness of the Metaverse The realization of AR/VR devices requires extremely complex computing power across multiple heterogeneous computing platforms as support.
At present, Sony and Qualcomm are the most important core optical display and computing chip suppliers in the AR and VR markets, accounting for more than 80% of the market in their respective fields. In 2021, tens of millions of related chips have been shipped.
In this case, Chinese chip companies need to take a new technological path, realize the integrated development of display and computing, and customize the design according to the needs of customers in order to have the opportunity to enter the mainstream market.
Chinese companies have entered the AR core chip market one after another. The era of the Metaverse has arrived. Human beings are entering the fusion scene of the real world and the virtual world. The new production and life mode also brings new markets and opportunities. The entrance and carrier of the Metaverse ——For the AR/VR equipment market, display and computing chips are its core engines, which have extremely high technical barriers and development difficulties.Chinese enterprises are continuously increasing their research and development efforts, deepening market understanding, focusing on ecological construction and industrial chain coordination, and I believe they will stand out in this brand-new market.