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Looks like a possible Valve Index 2 will make their VR kit go wireless

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Thanks to a new patent that went public on June 17, we can see a little more behind the scenes work on what Valve has planned for their next VR kit with what could be a Valve Index 2. The news and speculation comes thanks to a video from SadlyItsBradley.

The patent itself was actually filed back in December 2019, so it's not actually new. However, it did only just this month go public so now we're able to dive in and see what Valve were thinking about their next steps. It goes to show that they were clearly already thinking about the next generation as the Valve Index was releasing back in June 2019.

Wireless VR is the next true step to make the experience even better. As an owner of a Valve Index (and it's awesome), I can safely say it would be far nicer without the big thick wire attached to it. It gets in the way, you can easily step on it and unplug it, and it's just another part that can break. Part of the problem with wireless or standalone VR kits, as Valve say in the patent, is that they can be heavy and hot due to doing all of the rendering. Some of the skimp on the power to get around this but then you get less of an experience. So how to do deal with those and other issues?

What we can see from the patent is that Valve wanted to have a split rendering system where a PC would do some of it, send it wirelessly over to a HMD (Head-mounted display) to then have the HMD do some too.

Working together, it seems, Valve think this would solve current issues with latency and graphical power for VR. The patent goes into some depth on all the ins and outs of how it would work, including that the HMD looks to be almost be a full computer (see above picture). Part of how they want to solve it using this split rendering system is to have the HMD attempt to correct any errors, and it would be able to do so if it has enough power inside it with it not needing to render everything by itself.

Not only does it talk about the details of the split-rendering mode, it also mentions how it could be used as a standalone device for less graphically intensive games, movies and more. So we could be looking at a new VR kit from Valve that doubles up as a standalone unit and one that can connect up to a PC either wired or wirelessly (it mentions both).

Complicated stuff but this is all incredibly exciting to make VR more accessible than it currently is!

If this turns into a real product, along with a possible handheld SteamPal - Valve would be well positioned to keep pulling in future gamers of all kinds.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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27 comments
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Julius 21 Jun
Wouldn't have to be 360, something with a reasonable overscan (like 150°-180° maybe) would be sufficient since the screen refreshes that quickly anyways.

But this does sound like it could maybe even connect to a SteamPal then... interesting. I wonder if it will run Android or regular Linux on the headset itself though.
slaapliedje 21 Jun
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Quoting: JuliusWouldn't have to be 360, something with a reasonable overscan (like 150°-180° maybe) would be sufficient since the screen refreshes that quickly anyways.

But this does sound like it could maybe even connect to a SteamPal then... interesting. I wonder if it will run Android or regular Linux on the headset itself though.
I'm betting Linux. None of the SoCs for ARM seem to have open source video drivers, which has caused heaps of problems getting updates onto the things. Though likely it'll be pretty embedded.
Julius 21 Jun
Quoting: slaapliedjeI'm betting Linux. None of the SoCs for ARM seem to have open source video drivers, which has caused heaps of problems getting updates onto the things. Though likely it'll be pretty embedded.

This is a bit outdated, the Panfrost drivers for Mali GPUs actually work fine and are fully open source, in fact most ARM GPUs have open-source OpenGL drivers these days, but they support status differs.

However Vulkan support is not as great yet so that might make things difficult.

Overall though, I could also imagine Valve going for an Android solution, as making a stand-alone capable headset and then having no games for it would not be very wise for business. While if it runs Android, then most Occulus Quest games should be quite easy to port over. But if Valve would sponsor Anbox (a compatibility layer to run Android apps on GNU-Linux) development, that would be also cool :)
Shmerl 21 Jun
So instead of being essentially a fancy display, the headset will have its own GPU?

That moves things into interesting direction of eventually rendering everything on the headset itself, but I guess they need to get small enough first while being powerful. Current GPUs required for VR use a ton of power and need serious heat dissipation.


Last edited by Shmerl on 21 June 2021 at 7:11 pm UTC
sub 21 Jun
Valve Quest?
CatKiller 21 Jun
Quoting: ShmerlSo instead of being essentially a fancy display, the headset will have its own GPU?

That moves things into interesting direction of eventually rendering everything on the headset itself, but I guess they need to get small enough first while being powerful. Current GPUs required for VR use a ton of power and need serious heat dissipation.
Standalone VR headsets already exist with their own GPU. The Oculus Quest uses the Adreno 540 and the Quest 2 uses the Adreno 650. In terms of graphics power they're pretty weak, but going stronger risks melting your face. The idea of this is that you can offload some of the face melting stuff to a different machine, but have enough local processing power that the latency doesn't make you hurl.
Hori 21 Jun
Quoting: slaapliedje
Quoting: HoriThe index cable is very fragile. Mine broke recently. Fortunately they do provide a free replacement for it, at least.
But after that I am now constantly worried that it will break again suddenly.
Where did it break at? The connector to the splitter that goes to the back of the PC always seemed a bit flimsy to me and I always worry when I unplug / move it around. Glad they replaced it for free!
Honestly not sure. I'm almost sure it is the trident/splitter, but I didn't yet try it with the new tether, so I cannot confirm.
I think it broke something related to the USB wiring since lsusb stopped showing anything except for the cameras (which still worked in Cheese)

I used to use the Index in such a way that the cable took a sharp corner behind my tv and through the wall and into the PC on the other side. This is why I think it is the trident that broke since that was the part under stress...
Either that or the connector between the trident and the tether, since I had to replug it for every session and after digging info on the internet, people say it is a very fragile connector that should *not* be regularly replugged.

Now with the new cable I just use it normally, no going through the wall, no hiding and no replugging the trident connector. I just unplug the whole thing from the PC end and that is it. Until the extension cables order (DP and USB extensions) arrive then I can cable manage those through the wall instead of the proprietary and expensive and fragile index cable.


Last edited by Hori on 21 June 2021 at 11:33 pm UTC
slaapliedje 22 Jun
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Quoting: Hori
Quoting: slaapliedje
Quoting: HoriThe index cable is very fragile. Mine broke recently. Fortunately they do provide a free replacement for it, at least.
But after that I am now constantly worried that it will break again suddenly.
Where did it break at? The connector to the splitter that goes to the back of the PC always seemed a bit flimsy to me and I always worry when I unplug / move it around. Glad they replaced it for free!
Honestly not sure. I'm almost sure it is the trident/splitter, but I didn't yet try it with the new tether, so I cannot confirm.
I think it broke something related to the USB wiring since lsusb stopped showing anything except for the cameras (which still worked in Cheese)

I used to use the Index in such a way that the cable took a sharp corner behind my tv and through the wall and into the PC on the other side. This is why I think it is the trident that broke since that was the part under stress...
Either that or the connector between the trident and the tether, since I had to replug it for every session and after digging info on the internet, people say it is a very fragile connector that should *not* be regularly replugged.

Now with the new cable I just use it normally, no going through the wall, no hiding and no replugging the trident connector. I just unplug the whole thing from the PC end and that is it. Until the extension cables order (DP and USB extensions) arrive then I can cable manage those through the wall instead of the proprietary and expensive and fragile index cable.
Yeah, that's the part I'd have assumed broke, that connects into the Power/DP/USB cable. It seemed really flimsy even when I first opened mine. You'd think they'd have used some hardy DIN connector or something thick, not the equivalent of a Display Port cable that was slimmed down!
Termy 22 Jun
Yes Please! My bungee-system makes the cable less of a nuisance, but it still can be annoying as heck in games with a lot of movement ^^
einherjar 22 Jun
I always thought, that the VR Kit is just a dump display and that all the compute stuff is done on the PC anyways.

I mean, it is just to small screens, isn't it? With sensors of course, but the computing and rendering, I thought, is done on the PC.

The tracking and stuff is done with the lighthouses and that data is to be computed on the PC, so that he game knows about it.
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