Snapdragon AR2 Multi-chip Architecture for AR Glasses


Yesterday at the Snapdragon Summit, Hugo Swart, Vice President, XR Product Management, Qualcomm, unveiled the Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1, a hardware platform made of three chips that will power the next-gen augmented reality glasses.

The new Snapdragon AR2 Gen 1 is the latest addition to Qualcomm’s extended reality (XR) product line.

The system is made of an AR processor, located inside the right arm of the glasses, an AR co-processor located on the front in the middle, right behind the camera module, and a Qualcomm FastConnect 7800 connectivity chip located inside the left temple.

For once, Qualcomm did not integrate all the chips in a single large SoC but has split the hardware into three small packages to help OEMs deliver thin and light designs for their next-gen AR glasses.

To enable the slim form factor, the Snapdragon AR2 distributes the processing workload between the glasses and a Snapdragon-powered smartphone, PC, or other compatible host devices.

According to the chip maker, the main processor occupies a 40% smaller PCB area on glass compared to the Wireless AR Smart Viewer Reference Design powered by Snapdragon XR2.

The AR2 platform achieves a 50% boost in AI performance while consuming 50% less power than the previous generation. Qualcomm designed the AR2 to power glasses that will compute using less than 1W.

The AR processor, optimized for low motion-to-photon latency (sub-9ms), supports up to 9 cameras for scanning the environment and for the user.

The AR processor features a hardware acceleration engine for better user motion tracking and localization, and an AI accelerator to reduce latency for input interactions such as hand tracking or 6DoF. Finally, the chip manages the display output.

The AR co-processor aggregates camera and sensor data and features eye-tracking for foveated rendering, to optimize graphics rendering performance. Additionally, the computing unit delivers iris authentication.

The connectivity chip is based on Qualcomm FastConnect 7800, a connectivity system that supports Wi-Fi 7. Thanks to this tiny connectivity chip, OEMs will be able to deliver sub-2ms latency between the AR glasses and the smartphone host device. Qualcomm provides the FastConnect XR Software Suite 2.0, to help developers better control the XR data, reduce latency and jitter, and prevent interference.

Qualcomm offers the Snapdragon Spaces XR Developer Platform, an OpenXR SDK tailored to Qualcomm XR products that provides commonly needed software functions that most XR apps require.

Since Snapdragon Spaces adheres to the open-source specifications, the AR2 system of three chips could also work with a non-Snapdragon phone or mobile device. We can safely assume that Snapdragon Spaces works optimally with the most recent Snapdragon mobile devices.

History of Qualcomm XR platforms:

Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 1, Qualcomm’s latest chipset for VR headsets, combines Mixed Reality (MR) and Virtual reality (VR), launched on October 11, 2022, and powers the Meta Quest Pro announced at Meta Connect 2022. The XR2 Plus delivers 50% higher sustained power and 30% improved thermal performance over its predecessor.

Snapdragon XR2 5G (XR2 Gen 1) launched on December 4, 2019, an XR platform that powers, among other devices, the Lynx R-1 Mixed Reality (MR) headset, and the Wireless AR Smart Viewer reference design.

Snapdragon XR1 launched in May 2018 that powers the Lenovo ThinkReality A3 smart glasses launched at CES 2021.

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