Industry comes up with VirtualLink to connect VR headsets using a single cable

Posted on Tuesday, Jul 17 2018 @ 22:27 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
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There's a new specification that will enable future virtual reality headsets to connect with PCs and other devices using a single connector. Called VirtualLink, this new spec is supported by NVIDIA, Oculus, Valve, AMD, and Microsoft. It uses a single USB Type-C connector, instead of the current mess that involves multiple connectors.

VirtualLink uses an Alternate Mode of USB Type-C, it connects VR headsets using four high-speed HBR3 DisplayPort lanes, a USB 3.1 data channel, and can deliver up to 27W of power. It's a very welcome spec, that not only makes VR headsets more convenient but also significantly increases the bandwidth (to 32.4Gbps).
A new industry consortium led by NVIDIA, Oculus, Valve, AMD, and Microsoft today introduced the VirtualLink™ specification -- an open industry standard that enables next-generation VR headsets to connect with PCs and other devices using a single, high-bandwidth USB Type-C™ connector, instead of a range of cords and connectors.

This new connection, an Alternate Mode of USB-C, simplifies and speeds up VR setup time, avoiding key obstacles to VR adoption. It also brings immersive VR experiences to smaller devices with fewer ports, such as thin and light notebooks.

To fulfill the promise of next-generation VR, headsets will need to deliver increased display resolution and incorporate high-bandwidth cameras for tracking and augmented reality. VirtualLink connects with VR headsets to simultaneously deliver four high-speed HBR3 DisplayPort lanes, which are scalable for future needs; a USB3.1 data channel for supporting high-resolution cameras and sensors; and up to 27 watts of power.

Unlike other connectivity alternatives, VirtualLink is purpose-built for VR. It optimizes for the latency and bandwidth demands that will enable headset and PC makers to deliver the next generation of VR experiences.

The consortium also announced the publication of an advance overview of the VirtualLink specification, available to companies that wish to receive details ahead of the upcoming VirtualLink 1.0 specification.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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