AMD Announces the Sulon Q: First Wireless VR Headset

Subject: General Tech | March 14, 2016 - 01:51 PM |
Tagged: wireless vr headset, vr headset, VR, virtual reality, Sulon Q, FX-8800P, amd fx, amd

AMD is powering the world's first truly self-contained VR solution, the Sulon Q, a wireless headset with a powerful computer built in.

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AMD has partnered with Sulon Technologies, an startup based in Toronto, to produce this new headset, which seems to have the potential to disrupt the fledgling VR market. The idea is simple, and unique; unlike existing designs that require a VR-ready PC (Oculus Rift, HTC Vive) or the latest smartphone (GearVR) to work, the Sulon Q VR headset incorporates a full gaming PC inside the headset, allowing for the first actually wireless experience in this young technology's existence.

As Ars Technica notes in their post on the Sulon Q this morning:

"According to the announcement, that 'wear and play' untethered design makes the Sulon Q quite different from competition like the Oculus Rift or SteamVR-powered HTC Vive, which both need a relatively high-end PC to actually generate the images on the headset. With the Sulon Q, the Windows 10 PC hardware is built into the unit, including an expected four-core AMD FX-8800P processor with a Radeon R7 graphics card."

Who wouldn't want to wear an entire PC on their head? Thermal (and other health) concerns aside, just what sort of hardware is under the hood (so to speak)? According to the report published at VideoCardz this morning, it will offer a new AMD FX processor (the FX-8800P) and overall specs that look like they belong more to a gaming laptop than a VR headset.

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(Quoting directly from the report on VideoCardz via this Reddit post):

Experiences: VR, AR, and spatial computing Ergonomics Lightweight, comfortable, ergonomically designed all-in-one tether-free form factor

Processors: AMD FX-8800P processor at up to 35W with Radeon R7 Graphics leveraging AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture 4 compute cores and 8 GPU cores unlocked through Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) Sulon Spatial Processing Unit (SPU)

Memory: 8 GB DDR3 Memory

Storage: 256 GB SSD

Display: 2560×1440 OLED display at 90 Hz 110-degree Field-of-View

Audio: 3D spatial audio powered by GenAudio’s AstoundSound® technology Built-in 3.5 mm audio jack Custom spatially-optimized Sulon Q earbuds Dual noise-cancelling embedded microphones.

Tracking: Sulon Spatial Processing Unit combining real-time machine vision technologies and mixed reality spatial computer for real-time environment mapping and tracking from the inside outward, dynamic virtualization for VR/AR fusion, and gesture recognition

Sensors: Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer, SPU

Software: Microsoft Windows® 10 “Project Dragon” application for spatial computing AMD LiquidVR technologies for ensure smooth and responsive VR and AR experiences

Peripherals: Wireless keyboard and mouse provided in box Any other Windows 10-compatible controllers and joysticks

Connectivity: WiFi 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.1, 2x USB 3.0 Type A, Micro HDMI OUT

A video for the Sulon Q is also up on YouTube this morning:

The two biggest questions that always accompany any new hardware announcement - how much will it cost, and when is it available - have not been answered just yet. We'll await further information as GDC has just begun, but it seems very safe to say that 2016 will be focused very heavily on VR.

Source: VideoCardz

March 14, 2016 | 02:14 PM - Posted by Rick Bertuzzi (not verified)

HTC Vive requires a PC too (like Oculus). Samsung Gear uses a smartphone.

March 14, 2016 | 02:25 PM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

I spaced on that. GearVR, not Vive. Fixed!

March 14, 2016 | 02:22 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Why does AMD always have the worst and least memorable names for stuff?

March 14, 2016 | 03:30 PM - Posted by Gunbuster

We're just lucky the video card people didn't get to it and make it slathered in fingerprint magnet shiny AMD corporate cheap plastic red along with a big sticker of ruby in some leather/rubber bathing suit battle gear.

March 14, 2016 | 07:45 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I like cheap, plastic, corporate red better than cheap, plastic, corporate green. I am fine with shiny in either color though.

March 14, 2016 | 02:31 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I want this with a Linux Build, so will there be the option? I'd like to see if this can be used for 3d modeling and can the device support a development OS(Linux Based) so I can run the thing from/with a Mini-PC or laptop and have Blender 3d running on both the Sulon Q and the laptop. Blender 3D has a distributed rendering client mode that can run across multiple PCs. That Carrizo based APU has enough CPU power on its own for Blender in 3d editing mode, but it will take some open source work to get Blender working on the Sulon Q's hardware.

No one in the Open source community has the time to deal with M$'s UWP nonsense so I'd like there to be some Linux Based options for this device and development work. I'd love to do 3d modeling/sculpting in a VR based setting, and windows 10 is a BIG No Sale!

March 14, 2016 | 02:57 PM - Posted by derz

I agree. Open OS all the way.

March 14, 2016 | 03:54 PM - Posted by Cataclysm_ZA

As long as there's some way to dismantle it and get at the motherboard to find out what chips govern the functions, I think it should be fairly easy to get a Linux distro on this machine, and then develop drivers to support the accelerometer, magnetometer, and the gyroscope, if they aren't already supported in the kernel in some way. The only thing that might be tricky is the spatial awareness engine that Sulon made, and if they're able to, convincing them to make an open-source distribution work with their headset shouldn't be too hard.

March 14, 2016 | 04:47 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

If AMD's “Open” ties them too much to M$'s attempts at closing down the PC gaming platform, I fear that AMD is going to alienate themselves from a lot of users. AMD should not let M$'s console business influence AMD too much towards supporting only windows 10, AMD better start demonstrating some AMD based Seam Machines even if AMD has to make some reference/demo design platforms to prove that AMD is indeed going that be able to work with Steam OS on an OEM scale. That AMD “Open” needs to extend beyond the drivers and the middle-ware and also extent to some open source Linux OS options also!

I really wish that Lenovo would have offered their Carrizo FX8800p laptop with a Linux OS option, and not try an bind users to M$'s windows 10 platform and closed ecosystem!

What OEMs should realize is that M$ would love to become Apple, and start building its own M$ made hardware to tie exclusively to M$'s closed windows 10 OS ecosystem. M$ does not care one bit for the third party PC/Laptop OEMs, so these very OEMs better hedge there bets and get more Linux options before it's too late! The third party PC/Laptop OEMs would do well too pool their software resources and develop a Linux Build that all the OEMs could share! And Steam OS is going to be that option for the gaming industry, and Steam OS is just another Debian based build. Dell is starting to offer more in the way of Linux based laptop options, and maybe there will be some Zen APU based options for users in Dell's lineup in the next few years.

Linux and Vulkan will have the largest install based for any device if you include Tablets/phones into the numbers, and Linux on PCs/Laptops only needs 10%-15% of the market to really prosper and provide the user base to bring the economy of scale to the Linux based PC/Laptop market for the Linux based OEM PC/Laptop ecosystem.

March 14, 2016 | 02:58 PM - Posted by Alexander82 (not verified)

How much will that thing last before you need to charge it??? I mean, after all you have to feed not only a CPU but a Radeon 7 GPU

March 14, 2016 | 03:44 PM - Posted by Nate (not verified)

It doesn't look like there is a graphics card, just the APU - R7 graphics, instead of R7 graphics card. Going off the spec list for videocardz it looks to be the case that arstechnica/pcper misquoted it.

March 14, 2016 | 07:08 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I wonder what the memory system is. If it has GDDR5 rather than DDR3, then it could perform better than current consoles. With Windows 10, this could essentially be Xbox VR.

March 14, 2016 | 03:55 PM - Posted by Cataclysm_ZA

Five hours, maybe, if the battery is on the rear of the headrest. You can fit some monsters into something of that size.

March 14, 2016 | 05:51 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Maybe they will have shoes with induction chargers in the soles so users can run wires up to the device and keep it going longer, if the users want to play standing on a big charger mat. Or some form of wireless charging device that would be safe and not cook the user to a golden brown!

There better be dual channel memory in this device!

March 14, 2016 | 07:11 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Charging shoes is a bit ridiculous. If it has GDDR5 rather than DDR3 or 4, then it could be a reasonably powerful device.

March 14, 2016 | 10:00 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It's an FX8800P it's an APU so DDR3 maybe DDR4, its the same SKU that the OEMs put in their gimped down thin and light laptop piles of crap, but at least in this headest the Carrizo FX8800p is getting 35 watts, and has not been relegated to 15 watt usage only! And none of the post about charging shoes was serious, although some of those gaming fatties could use some exercise! Hell some kenetic generators strapped to those wads of fat could probably power this device, with fatty moving around some playing a VR game that requires full body movement.

March 14, 2016 | 07:48 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It doesn't seem like it would be that hard to make the battery easily swappable if that is an issue. I am not sure how long people will want to be in VR in a single sitting anyway.

March 14, 2016 | 05:05 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Hopefully the FPS can keep up, I don't want to be getting sick or cross-eyed, headaches....etc.

March 14, 2016 | 07:05 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

With thin and light laptop level components, it isn't going to be anywhere near PC level graphics quality. It should be a a lot better than cell phone level graphics; at 35 watts, it probably has 10x the power budget of a cell phone. I am not sure what the power budget is on a cell phone though. A PC can easily have 20x the power budget (700 watts) of this device. It will need to sacrifice a lot of detail to reach frame rate targets compared to what will be possible on a PC.

March 14, 2016 | 06:55 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I generally don't like displays with integrated computers since the computer components will be out of date in a short time. Displays usually last quite a bit longer. Most quality displays will last through several system upgrades. This is a bit high power, but I could see such a system being run off of a replaceable compute stick rather than integrated components. Compute sticks are a bit more powerful than a cell phone but less powerful than this 35 watt device (thin and light laptop). A 14 nm APU in a compute stick type device, perhaps with some design considerations for being secured on a headset, might be a good solution. This seems like it will be way too big and bulky with thin and light laptop sized components. It will take a relativelyheavy battery for a headset.

March 14, 2016 | 08:25 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Thin and light laptops only have 15-20 watt maxx, only the Lenovo Y700 with the carrizo FX8800p uses it at 35 watts, and thin and lights suck at 15 watts! so This VR headset packs more power. Thin and light laptops suck! This VR headset should be able to do some nice game play! Too bad the laptop OEMs gimped AMDs Carrizo offerings so much!

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