Oculus’ recently released 0.7 SDK and Runtime Drivers were a significant step forward in technology for the company, offering up major enhancements for Rift users. AMD and NVIDIA have now both launched drivers which allow Rift developers and users alike to unlock ‘Direct Driver Mode’, a high performance, low latency way to render to the Oculus Rift headset.

In the last few months, we’ve seen some significant steps forward in tightening the pipeline from game to VR displays, with initiatives from both NVIDIA (Gameworks VR) and AMD (Liquid VR) offering developers ways to cut latency and increase performance significantly.

Now, Oculus has launched v0.7 desktop beta of it’s SDK and Runtime which finally does away with one of the biggest irritations for Rift owners and developers, abandoning both Extended modes, where Windows treated the Rift as a visible additional desktop monitor, in favour of a single ‘Direct Driver Mode’ for supported GPUs and drivers.

In theory this means that, for users running the following combination of software, VR should be a noticeably smoother, less latent experience from now on:

For better or for worse, the new SDK and Runtime also brings the following notes:

  • Applications built against SDKs prior to 0.6 will not work with the 0.7 runtime. Developers should recompile their applications using the 0.7 SDK.
  • Preliminary support for Windows 10, which requires Direct Driver Mode. If you are using Windows 10, make sure to get the recommended drivers.
  • Extended Mode is no longer supported. This means that users can no longer manage the Oculus Rift as an extended monitor, which will affect some games built against SDKs prior to 0.6.
  • Standalone Mode (which uses the Oculus Rift as the only display device) is no longer supported.
  • The runtime no longer supports the 32-bit versions of Windows. Although you will need to use a 64-bit version to operate the runtime, 32-bit applications will still work properly.

One of the biggest concerns for acceptance of virtual reality outside of the hardcore community is obviously user experience. These latest, significant SDK and drivers initiatives look to drastically reduce frustration of future ownership and operation of an Oculus Rift and improve performance to boot. That’s a pretty big deal.

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  • illuzion

    Upgraded PC to Windows 10 yesterday, installed 0.7 runtime and I have to say its a very noticeable difference. Buttery and smooth, however I haven’t tested any games yet (just the Demo). One annoying thing is if you install the NVIDIA drivers with windows update you won’t be able to remove them. (you keep getting a restart pending prompt), however if you ignore this and just install the latest drivers over the top it works fine.

    Nice to just turn on the rift and use it without mucking around. Hopefully some more games get updated in the coming weeks :)

  • Don Gateley

    So must one purchase a shiny new system with the newest graphics hardware to use the future Rift?

    • democedes

      One can only guess at this point. I would imagine that it will ‘work’ on an older system. The question is whether it performs to your satisfaction. Like PC gaming has always been, you will have to find a balance between frames per second and graphical quality. The only difference with VR is that low FPS will have a much more profound on your experience.

      • democedes

        …more profound impact…

    • laser632

      I’m using a GTX 680. Had it for 3 years. Anyway… why would you purchase an entire new system unless your existing system was obsolete? My system is about 3 or 4 years old. My i5 2500k is overclocked so it still wins against a lot of CPU benchmarks. My GPU is also overclocked. That tends to be more hit and miss whether you end up with a GPU that overclocks but my Zotac gives me an extra 20fps because of overclock. Unless your system is hopelessly outdated you would simply by a new GPU if necessary!