Based on the company’s ‘Turing’ GPU architecture, NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX cards include hardware support for the new VirtualLink connector, a standard designed for next-gen VR headsets.

Announced last month, VirtualLink is a connection standard designed specifically for VR headsets, which is backed by a consortium of major players in VR space, including NVIDIA, AMD, Valve, Microsoft, and Oculus. Based on USB-C, the connector offers high bandwidth throughput and power into a single port, aiming to reduce and simplify the bulky tethers of today’s VR headsets.

Today NVIDIA revealed their brand new 20-series GeForce RTX cards, and further said that all include hardware support for VirtualLink. While third-party card makers like MSI, EVGA, Gigabyte, and others decide which ports will go on the cards they make, NVIDIA’s own ‘Founder’s Edition’ GPUs, which the company makes and sells itself, are all confirmed to include the VirtualLink USB-C port.

Image courtesy NVIDIA

The VirtualLink connector offers four high-speed HBR3 DisplayPort lanes (which are “scalable for future needs”), a USB3.1 data channel for on-board cameras, and up to 27 watts of power. The standard is said to be “purpose-built for VR,” being optimized for latency and the demands of next-generation headsets.

The GeForce RTX Founder’s Edition cards start at $600 and are expected to begin shipping in late September.

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  • GordoSan

    Something that’s sort of confusing about VirtualLink for me… So would a piece of fixed hardware, like a PS4 or Xbox be able to utilize VirtualLink? I know that the cord would obviously need to be a standardized cord, as well as the headset, but what about the USB port of origin? This article makes it sound like the output for these NVidia cards is a standard for VirtualLink, but can this feature be added to most USB 3.0 port’s firmware?

    • Lucidfeuer

      Nope, you need a compatible hardware and even a compatible VR headset, which will probably be what the next PC headset will have.

      • Patrick Bradley

        HTC vive pro + edition. All the same specs but we have different cable!!

        Seriously I was expecting them move to wireless, Not think of a different shape they can tether us with.

        • DJHeroMasta

          You can order HTC’s wireless adapter for $299.

        • Teiji

          No one said they couldn’t come up with a wireless module that plugs in that new virtual link port. So you can definitely be tetherless!

          • GordoSan

            Not to mention a ‘charge and play’ feature for wireless headsets, while it’s plugged in.

      • Simon Wood

        VirtualLink is an extension of the alternate modes of USB3.0/Type-C.

        I’d suspect that the port would be capable of normal USB3.0, alternate modes (HDMI and/or DisplayPort) and this new VirtualLink mode – all auto-magically negotiated at connection time.

        The difference between VirtualLink and the ‘normal’ alternate modes, is that it re-assigns the use of the USB2.0 pins in order gain more pairs for high bandwidth communications. This is allowed by USB3.0 but only if there is no-hubs in between, this has to be a direct device(GFX)-device(VR headset) connection.

        Likewise I’d also expect the headsets which support VitualLink to be able to use the ‘normal’ USB3.0/Type-C alternate modes, just with a lower bandwidth.

        • Lucidfeuer

          So driver updates could make older models compatible with an adapter?

          • FranzDa

            that’s a very good question Lucidfeuer..

  • Smokey_the_Bear

    Meh, don’t care about a VR connector, since I was a all-in-one, like Oculus Santa Cruz.

    • DJHeroMasta

      Gross.

    • NooYawker

      Obviously you aren’t the market for this type of card.

    • Darban

      That’s like saying “I don’t care about buying A5 Kobe beef since I became a vegetarian”.

  • Mateusz Pawluczuk

    This is actually big news – VR is getting it’s own dedicated port!

    • dk

      well sure ….also u can make a monitor with a usb hub and u will need only one cable

      • JJ

        awww snap i like that

  • Aeroflux

    Precisely 5 days after the EVGA Step-Up period ended for my 1080Ti. I accept my fate, but only through copious amounts of satire…maybe it’s for the better.

  • MW

    1000usd for GPU, and more than 1000usd for new HMD (Vive pro show the way). VR becomes a distant dream. Sad…

    • FireAndTheVoid

      There are plenty of affordable options without needing to buy top-of-the-line hardware. The prior generation of GPUs (both NVidia and AMD) are nearly all VR compatible. Competition is everywhere, pushing the price of Windows MR headsets way down. Oculus occasionally sells for $350.

    • NooYawker

      First gen hardware is always expensive. HDTV’s were once $50,000, a CD recorder was $10,000. The prices will fall for HMD’s, top end video cards however will probably stay around 1k.

  • JJ

    you obviously don’t have vr and havent tried the samsung oddysey or any budget friendly vr headset for that matter. Theyre great and affordable.
    plus like FatV (<–funny abbreviation) said you dont need this new line for VR, the previous line, which will now have plenty of for sale, are perfectly capable of VR. if you time it right monthly deals happen all the time and youd be able to get a 1000 series card and a samsung headset which has damn near the best resolution for around $500.

    So only a distant dream if you're 13 and dont have a job because my 17 y/o cousin just worked and saved up his money for a samsung. if he can do it you can to, and if not you're just lazy.

    • MW

      Wow… ‘Obviously’ I have both – PC Oculus and mobile Samsung device. And hi end gpu. An obviously I know what I’m talking about.
      Also I work in pc hardware budiness for 12 years. So, please…

      • mirak

        No, the issue is that you are expecting too much.

        When I think back I resisted maybe 2 or 3 years before getting a basic mobile phone, because the social pressure of beeing joinable was to much.
        After that I resisted like 3 or 4 years before getting a smartphone because I thought that it wasn’t technologically worth it, and I bought my first and last Apple product the iPhone 3g.

        When something is new, people resist to change for whatever reason.
        So I think everything is normal and going the right way.

        It’s like you are panicking or something.

  • JP

    It would be nice to have an all-in-one like the Go, but support the connector for desktop quality like the Rift.

  • Routb3d

    I thought we were moving toward wireless VR.

    • Jerald Doerr

      Yeah… But every time a new HMD comes out with more resolution a new wireless device has to come out with more power… Kinda like gaming wired or wireless keyboard and mouse… Wired almost always wins..

      Besides, think of how much power/radio waves that thing puts in your brain?

      • Daarcm

        The wireless stuff runs at like 40Ghz+, that won’t penetrate your skin, let alone your skill…

        • Jerald Doerr

          Ever see the test with 2.4 GHz and 5.6 GHz routers next to seedlings? Interesting.. A little quick reading on the web and it looks like most people say something at the level of 60 GHz (HTC-Vive) microwave level is not something you would want next to a wet brain.. But I don’t know????

          • Weston Mossman

            Think about it, if your hand can easily block a 60GHz signal from getting to the receiver, your skull can too. 2.4 and 5GHz on the other hand can go through skin and bone.

          • Jerald Doerr

            I’m sure your right and it has to be safe.. But humor me for a second.

            1st off its a digital connection the Rx and tx need to connect and if any part of data is lost your image will shut off… But that does not mean the microwaves are not doing there job cooking you on low.. Do you have enuff trust in using that headgear as underwear 2 hours a day for 2 weeks?

  • Moyenitude

    So does the card include a USB controller or do you have to connect the card the motherboard headers?

    • Jerald Doerr

      That’s a “USB type” connector for future VR headsets.. kinda like 2 HDMI cables in 1 small connector.

      • Moyenitude

        Actually VirtualLink caries video + USB data and power, so it’s more like 1 HDMI cable and 1 USB cable in 1. But where does the USB data carried by the connector go to? To an internal (graphic card) controller, on to the motherboard?

        • Jerald Doerr

          Your correct Video, USB, and Power.

          Well, it handles 8k so that’s 2x HDMI the USB would go into the PCI-E port of your video card just like it would if you had a PCI-E to USB 2.0 or 3.0 expansion card. From what I gather all this is configurable so if a manufacturer decides to use the high-speed USB and video you’re going to be cut back to 1x 4k HDMI.

          All in all, this is great for VR.. 2x 4k screens would need 2 fat HDMI cables… This will eliminate that..

          https://vesa.org/featured-articles/vesa-
          strengthens-8k-video-resolution-ecosystem-with-market-ready-dp8k-certified-displayport-cables/

          • Moyenitude

            Yeah, it’s probable a controller on the card itself…
            I wonder if NV designed its own, or if they bought some ASMedia chips, or if that’s up to board manufacturers (in which case there could be quite a bit of trouble).

          • Jerald Doerr

            Did you read the article? You should all your questions will be answered.

          • Moyenitude

            All right, care to tell me where they talk about the USB controller implemntation?

          • Jerald Doerr

            It dose not take much to assume it has some type of controller… It’s not just a port connected to nothing! Matter of fact it a display data port… Second Paragraph… Dude it’s like Apples Lightning port….

          • Moyenitude

            I don’t think we understand each other unfortunately :(
            I’m looking for an answer like “it uses an ASMedia ASM1142”.

          • Jerald Doerr

            Yes I understand over time this is now your question… I myself don’t know crap about chips sorry.. But like I said before google should have your answer… Nvidia and like 12 other companies worked together to make it a standard so the tech should not be a secret.
            I was just watching a teardown of the 2080 Ti on Youtube but stopped after he was talking about the ram because that stuff bores me. It might be interesting to rewatch and see if he talks about the chips on the VL area of the card.

        • Chris Cap Cafego

          VirtualLink standardizes virtual-reality connections around a single USB-C cable that bakes in four high-speed HBR3 DisplayPort lanes, a USB 3.1 data channel for sensors and camera information, and up to 27 watts of power.

          • Moyenitude

            Yup, I’m wondering to which controller chip the USB3 data channel goes.

  • mirak

    What you say makes no sense.
    If quality was an issue, people would have never bought Atari 2600, supernes, or Atari st with 320×200 resolution.

    Most people think with their time, and buy what is available.
    What matters is that they think it’s the right price.

    At the time you had to be passionate to buy a pc because it was so expensive.

    VR is for passionate people right now, and the cost is in fact not really high, you will not ruin yourself with VR.