Qualcomm today announced its latest Snapdragon XR chip, the XR2+ Gen 2, a more capable variant of the chip that powers Quest 3. The company also hints that it will be used in the upcoming Samsung-Google headset.

Qualcomm is at this point the world’s leading provider of mobile processors for XR headsets. The company’s Snapdragon chips power the vast majority of standalone headsets on the market. So any time the company offers a new an improved chip, it’s a good indicator of what capabilities future XR devices will have.

Today Qualcomm announced Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 2. This is an improved version of the XR2 Gen 2 chip that powers Quest 3.

Compared to XR2 Gen 2, the new chip offers:

  • 15% increase in GPU frequency
  • 20% increase in CPU frequency
  • 12 concurrent cameras (up from 10)
  • 18.5MP (4,300 × 4,300) per-eye resolution at 90Hz

While the chip can run at higher frequencies for faster performance, our understanding is that the chip is no more efficient than its predecessor, meaning that higher speeds will require more power and more heat dissipation.

Qualcomm says that five companies are currently building devices based on Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 2, including an upcoming device by Samsung.

SEE ALSO
New Quest Update Adds More Vision Pro Features & Passthrough Improvements

This ‘plus’ addition to the company’s XR chip lineup seems like it will be a recurring theme. Quest 2 launched with Snapdragon XR2 Gen 1, but Qualcomm later offered an XR2+ Gen 1 which powered Quest Pro. And later it launched XR2 Gen 2 which is the basis of Quest 3.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Nevets

    For pity’s sake, make a pocket battery puck a thing. People WILL accept the trade off. And if manufacturers really don’t have the guts, then at least make hot swappable and sensibly priced batteries.

    • Sean Lumly

      I personally like the idea of a balancing back-of-head, hot-swappable battery, but the idea is the same.

    • ApocalypseShadow

      Agreed. But there are so many stand alone players running around with their nose up against wires or being tethered to a battery even though with an external battery, they would still be unconnected to an external source.

      Even Facebook downplayed Apple’s tether by saying there’s no need of an external battery which would offload the weight of the headset by saying it’s all built in. All in one is okay if it’s possible. But we got Quest 3 headsets barely last 2 hours of gaming with external battery sources not working properly for many. And even though you have stand alone players trashing being connected to an external battery, they excuse themselves from hypocrisy when they use their power banks.

      But I always thought that there should have been stand alone headsets with external batteries worn on the waist until the tech reached a point of having all in one on the head. First, tethered to a console or PC. Then, only connected to an external battery. Then, complete all in one devices that would have shown a clear evolution for third generation headsets. But because of stuck up users, companies like Facebook have tried to force everything on the head. Leaving many players uncomfortable and games being limited because of heat on the head.

    • MasterElwood

      You can buy that RIGHT NOW! No need to make it mandatory by the manufacturer!

      After Q2 & Q3 i am NEVER going back to a stupid cable on standalone!

    • Naruto Uzumaki

      meta are selling head straps with battery for 120$ they need to be sued or idiots need to stop buying them

    • MTBFdeveloper

      Bigscreen beyond-like on your face(120grams), compute unit as counterbalance, battery on your belt(+bodytracker option!)?
      No, they need all-in-one facebrick.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        You may have no problem with cables running down your neck/body to a belt, but I hate it, it sets the bar higher to just put it all on and go play. I see it with myself and my vive pro and tye wireless module, I just sometimes don’t play because I have to put the headset on and have to connect the wire correctly and strap it to my belt, which also even sometimes just pops off my belt when I bent over or squat during playtime. So I’d rather have a slight heavier headset with a wellbalanced headstrap as a crappy wire running down my body to a batterypack.

        • ApocalypseShadow

          You make it seem more difficult than it seems. Like those commercials that make it seem that kitchen utensils are so complicated. But buy our product to make it so easy. Which represents what I’m talking about. How hard is…

          *Put belt on that has a wire that goes straight up the back to the headset. Place headset on head. Turn on headset.*

          I’d bet it would take less than 30 seconds to put on. If the battery and the processing was worn on the hip, the headset would be light as a feather. Only thing on your head would be the sensors, the cameras and the screen. With mini PCs being powerful but so small as to fit in your hand, we would be seeing near PC and console graphics today on stand alone. Even PC portables are powerful like the ally and the deck.

          “But but but the wire.”

          And because of that distaste for a simple wire, stand alone graphics has to wait for a future iteration to catch up to PC and console since there’s no standard for eye tracking to minimize processing.

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            I don’t mind a wire, but Andrew’s view is probably much closer to that of most user. Not so much due to comfort, but convenience, where tethered will always lose, as even a short cable can get in the way.

            Take a look at earbuds. For years, everyone used wired headphones connected to a processing unit/phone worn at the hip. They never had to be charged, with neither compression artifacts nor latency. When one/both fell out, they were still connected, and they caught/saved a lot of falling phones.

            The only ones still using them are audiophiles, hipsters and a few digital dinosaurs, everybody else switched to bluetooth earbuds easily lost/dropped into the toilet while expensive to replace, requiring charging and introducing many issues wires never had. Because they are more convenient.

            I doubt that anybody will release “consumer” HMDs with tethered battery, as consumers wouldn’t accept them, and the few with tethered “compute units” will connect to smartphones. The only niches will be expensive professional use or “prototyping” like with AVP, were the added functionality/reliability is considered worth the hassle/30sec. [Google reported 2016 that 53% of all mobile site visits taking longer than 3sec to load were abandonned. Don’t expect consumers to voluntarily accept even minor inconvenince.]

          • ApocalypseShadow

            Short cable going up the back is not getting in the way. What’s it going to snag on?

            “I doubt anyone will release a consumer HMD with tether…”

            And Apple isn’t about to in the next few weeks or months? Lol. That’s what Facebook and Zuckerberg downplayed. You say they won’t but didn’t mention the exception. Which is it? You can’t say no then mention one that will. Contradictory.

            Direct is always better. My tech connected directly to my Internet modem or router is better than wireless. My headphones hooked up directly to my device to listen to music is better than Bluetooth. VR headset hooked directly to a PC or console is better than wireless. Sure wireless is nice. It isn’t better. And many know this. I know you do as well.

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            Regular Apple users can buy a Mac Studio M2 Ultra to read mail, or a Pro Display XDR to look at family photos, for USD 5000 each. But they aren’t the target group, these devices are for professional use, esp. video/movie editing.

            Regular Apple users will be able to buy an Apple Vision Pro to watch movies, use iPad apps or facetime friends, for USD 3500. But they aren’t the target group, this device is for developers and businesses, esp. to experiment with use cases and create apps, so that when the consumer version launches, it won’t be limited to watching movies, iPad apps and facetiming friends.

            AVP is primarily a first gen dev kit, reflected in less than 500K units available units in 2024 and lots of compromises like high weight and external battery due to immature, expensive, heavy and power hungry technology. But is close enough to what Apple envisions we’ll get a few years down the line to get started today.

            … expensive professional use or “prototyping” like with AVP …

            AVP isn’t an exception. AVP is a very polished prototype. So no, Apple will not release a consumer HMD in the next few weeks.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            And you’ll see that the biggest complaint will be the thethered battery. I’d rather take wireless and a bit less quality over anything thethered. It doesn’t need to be better, it needs to be close to but especially convenient, and wires are far from convienient.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            I’m speaking out of my own experience, and I really find it annoying, cable tends to also get in the way during playtime, if you don’t use an extra clip, but that also makes it more difficult to quickly remove your headset for a moment. So I rather have a slightly heavier, but well balanced, headset and no wires, then a light headset and a wire (for roomscale type of games, which are about the only type of games I play).

          • ApocalypseShadow

            I’m specifically talking about a stand alone headset with the processing and battery on the waist and a short 1-2 foot cable going up the back to the headset. It could be as thin as a USB c cable. So, weight wouldn’t be a factor either. With the battery hot swappable and a fan to blow heat away from the body.

            Instead, everything is on the head with the drawback of lower battery life, lower processing that tires into limited graphics until something like Quest 4.

            Don’t know about you but I didn’t see myself buying a Go, then a Quest, then a Quest 2 then 3 just to get a 4 that will finally catch up to PS4 Pro power years later. We could have had that already. But that wire has gotten in the way of many users thinking that wire is 12 get long and lasting all over the floor instead of up the back.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            Yeah I know, I’m talking about a wireless vive pro with a thin USB cable running down to a battery on my belt, and it’s annoying as F. Now matter how thin the cable is, it is hindering or the battery pops off your belt during playtime. As I said, I’d rather have a slightly heavier headset which is well balanced as that annoying cable running down my body. And again, it’s from my own experience with the HTC Vive Pro/wireless module. When I still used the regular wire of the vive pro, I already used a kiwi pulleysystem, but still the cable got tangled many times.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      To be honest, I really hate the battery puck of my vive wireless module, so i’m not for the “for pity’s sake”, I’d rather have them built a better strap which contains the battery. And yeah, it’s a shame the hotswappable concept of third party headstraps haven’t found their way into the first party headstraps (that come with the headset itself)

      • Christian Schildwaechter

        The hot-swappable, counter balancing battery as part of the headstrap is the default on the 2021 HTC Vive Focus 3. Along with the magnetically attached, easy to clean face and rear padding that’s one of the reasons why this HMD is great for long days with changing users. Everything can be swapped within seconds, so with one set being in use and another being cleaned/charged at the same time, you can stay in untethered VR 24/7.

        On the 2023 HTC Vive XR Elite the battery and rear pad merged to a still hot-swappable “battery cradle”, losing the option to swap the pad every few minutes for new users while swapping the battery only every two hours. HTC claims battery life “up to” 15h, and 1h of charging gives you 2h of regular use, compared to the Quest 3 battery still slowly discharging even when tethered during use, so technically less than 1h of use per 1h of charge. But you’ll have pay for that advantage, as a battery cradle cost 50% of the Quest 3 base model all by itself.

    • Jim P

      Better yet make the gps, cpu and battery in the pocket.

      • Jim P

        GPU

  • Foreign Devil

    I thought I read somewhere that Qualcom was making a mobile chip with similar power to Apple’s M3. They are all ARM based chips after all.

  • eadVrim

    I think Google has applications (Lens, YouTube, Translation, Maps, Gmail … ) that are more suitable for augmented reality glasses than mixed reality.

  • ViRGiN

    Valve Deckard xD

    • Stealth Ico

      schizophrenia pack hitting because I see no mention of valve anywhere in this article

  • It doesn’t seem an improvement boost big enough to fight against the M2 chip in the Vision Pro

    • Andrew Jakobs

      But it all depends on what market the soc is targeted. The M2 is a relatively expensive soc, and I guess these XR2 socs are much less expensive and therefor more suitable for mainstream consumer headsets.

      • Christian Schildwaechter

        Your guess is (most likely) wrong. Exact numbers for the XR2 aren’t known, but assuming it has about the same transistor count and is build on the same process as the SD8 Gen 2 it is based on, it would have ~16bn transistors on TSMC’s N4P 5nm process, making it very similar to Apple’s A16 with the same count and process.

        The M2 has more transistors at ~20bn, but is build on the slightly older N5P 5nm process, so production cost should be ~25% higher than for the A16. Apple pays TSMC USD ~110 for each A16, so the M2 would go for USD ~140. Qualcomm charges its large customers USD 160 for each SD2 Gen 2, USD 20 more than M2 for 20% less transistors.

        XR2 Gen 2 pricing is unknown, and Qualcomm may “subsidize” XR sales with exorbitant margins from high end mobile phone SoCs, but it will still be more than the zero-margin Apple has to pay itself. Given the XR2’s higher price, lower performance and the A715 CPU cores running underclocked at 1.6-2.05GHz in Quest 3 compared to 2.8GHz on SD8 Gen 2, the M2 should provide a lot more bang for the buck.

        And technically the AVP has two of those, as it’s extra R1 for sensor signal handling seems to be a modified M2 optimized for data processing. A Samsung XR HMD might get closer to AVP/the limits of the XR2+ Gen 2 with better cooling and battery.

        • Newlot

          You didn’t take into account that the M2 has about 25% more transistors than the A16/XR2 Gen 2, again likely increasing the cost by 25%, making it more expensive than the XR2 Gen 2.

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            ~16bn transistors … A16 with the same count … M2 has more … ~20bn … production cost should be ~25% higher than for the A16. … USD ~110 for each A16, so the M2 would go for USD ~140.

            I covered all that. A16 for USD 110 + 25% is USD 137,50 or ~140, the price of M2. You are mixing up production cost and purchase cost. The SD8 Gen 2 has a similar die size and therefore a similar price to the A16 on the same process. But the USD 110 Qualcomm pays TSMC isn’t the issue. The relevant question is what e.g. Samsung has to pay Qualcomm to get the SG8 Gen 2, and that’s USD 160, and what Meta/Samsung will have to pay for a matching XR 2 Gen 2.

            No doubt the M2 is more expensive to produce with a 25% larger die, but Qualcomm pricing policy makes at least the SG8 Gen 2 way more expensive for e.g. Samsung to integrate into any device than the M2 for Apple. The mobile phone industry pays a significant Qualcomm “tax”, and they are not happy at all about Qualcomm’s business practices and very high prices, it’s just very hard to work around them. The same may be or become true for XR2 based devices.

        • Newlot

          Also, why does Apple get zero margin prices from TSMC but not Meta from Qualcomm? Is it cause Apple designs the chips themselves, so if Meta didn’t need Qualcomm they could also get zero margin?

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            Apple doesn’t get zero margin prices from TSMC, the USD 110 for the A16 includes a margin that makes TSMC a very profitable company. But there is no other extra step, that USD 110 plus display, flash etc. is the total component cost for an iPhone.

            Qualcomm will get similar conditions from TSMC, so a SD8 Gen 2 for USD 110 also includes a margin. But Qualcomm doesn’t create phones, they sell the SoC to e.g. Samsung for USD 160, a 45% margin on top of what they pay TSMC. So even if Samsung used the same components as the iPhone, their build costs would be USD 50 higher, more than 10% of the production costs of a Galaxy S23 with SD8 Gen 2. Samsung’s own Exynos SoCs would be “zero-margin” like the A16 for Apple, but they aren’t as fast/efficient enough for their top-of-the-line phones.

            Qualcomm can charge such high margins because nobody else offers competetive high performance mobile SoC, though MediaTek’s Dimensity SoCs are now finally becoming an alternative. The high Qualcomm prices are probably why Meta tried for years to create their own SoCs. But that’s very hard and insanely expensive, so they stopped and entered a long year partnership with Qualcomm.