Stand-alone VR headset prices could drop with new Allwinner chip

Allwinner's H8VR chip can fit in plastic and cardboard VR headsets with no need to be tethered to PCs or smartphones

Most virtual reality headsets need to be tethered to PCs or smartphones; few are self-contained. A new VR chipset from Allwinner could change that, and also drive down headset prices.

Allwinner's H8VR chipset could free VR headsets from being attached to smartphones or PCs. The H8VR can fit in plastic or cardboard VR headset, and it has a CPU, 4K video processing capabilities, memory and storage.

The H8VR is targeted at low-cost VR headsets. Allwinner's chips are already being used in low-cost smartphones and tablets, and the company played a big role in driving down mobile-device prices. The H8VR could do the same for VR headsets.

One VR headset with the chip, the V3 All In One, is selling for $109.99 on Geekbuying's website and is available for $129.99 on Aliexpress.

VR headsets like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive need to be attached to PCs due to heavy computing and power requirements. Mobile devices can also be plugged into headsets for VR.

Top chip makers aren't developing specialized processors for independent VR or augmented reality headsets, with Qualcomm being an exception.

One popular stand-alone AR headset is Microsoft's HoloLens, which uses Intel's Cherry Trail processor -- that chip, however, was made for tablets, not specifically for VR or AR. The VR strategies for Nvidia and AMD rely on their PC GPUs.

Meanwhile, Samsung's new Galaxy Note 7 can be used for VR with a companion Gear VR headset. One of the chips used in Note 7 is Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820, which is also being targeted at VR headsets. The chip has digital signal processors and a powerful GPU to amplify sounds, scenes and to recognize images, all of which improve VR.

That leads to a larger question: like Allwinner and Qualcomm, will the top chip makers consider a specialized VR chip, much like they do for tablets and smartphones? It's a possibility, if VR headset shipments explodes. IDC projects 9.6 million headsets to ship this year, reaching 64.8 million by 2020.

The H8VR has an eight-core ARM Cortex A7 processor, an Imagination Technologies PowerVR SGX544 GPU, 16GB of storage and 2GB of DDR3 memory. It is a variant of Allwinner's H8, used in set-top boxes, but formulated for the VR headset in a smaller chip package.

One caveat: Buyers need to consider whether low-cost VR headsets provide a smooth visual experience, otherwise users can get nauseous or sick. The Allwinner H8VR chip will not equal the graphics quality of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, which rely on powerful PC GPUs. With that in mind, users may want to try it before buying.

The popularity of a VR headset also depends on content availability. For example, content for Samsung's Gear VR headset won't work on the $109.99 V3 headset with an Allwinner chip because of software and hardware compatibility issues.

A lot of VR development is happening around Google's DayDream platform, which is based on Android 7.0 (code-named Nougat). DayDream is designed for mobile devices but could come to headsets; the hardware requirements, though, may be too overpowering for low-cost headsets with Allwinner chips.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags VR

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?