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HomeTechMeta’s chip deal with Qualcomm may reflect its unrealized VR ambitions

Meta’s chip deal with Qualcomm may reflect its unrealized VR ambitions


Qualcomm and Meta have signed a multi-year settlement promising to workforce up on customized variations of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR chips for the “future roadmap of Quest products” and “other devices,” as Mark Zuckerberg put it.

While, in some methods, the transfer is enterprise as typical — the Quest 2 is powered by the Snapdragon XR2 chipset — it may present perception into Meta’s compromises because it faces declines in income and tries to maintain the spiraling bills of Mark’s metaverse challenge in verify.

What the Qualcomm deal reveals is that Meta’s upcoming headsets, which reportedly embrace a high-end headset codenamed Cambria and, later, new variations of its cheaper Quest headset, will not run on utterly custom-made Meta-designed silicon.

This is regardless of competing firms like Apple, Amazon, and Google making product selections round customized chip designs like M2, Graviton3, and Tensor — and the truth that Meta’s had a workforce devoted to doing the identical since 2018. This press launch says the chips will probably be “customized” for Meta’s wants. Still, we do not understand how a lot house that may put between its “premium” gadgets and different producers’ {hardware} that hews intently to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR reference designs.

In April, The Verge reported that Meta workers had been working with semiconductor fabs — the businesses that really produce the bodily chips — to make customized chips for its as-of-yet unannounced AR headset. That similar month, The Information reported that a few of Meta’s efforts to create customized chips had been hitting roadblocks, pushing it to make use of a Qualcomm chip for its second-gen Ray-Bay good glasses as a substitute of its personal silicon.

Qualcomm reference designs for wired and wireless smart glasses

Qualcomm reference designs for wired and wi-fi good glasses
Qualcomm

Tyler Yee, a Meta spokesperson, mentioned that the corporate does not focus on particulars about how its roadmap has advanced and would not touch upon any particular plans it may have had for customized chips for Quest merchandise. However, Yee did share an announcement on the corporate’s “general approach to custom silicon,” saying that Meta does not consider in a “one-size-fits-all approach” for the tech powering its future gadgets.

“There could be situations where we use off-the-shelf silicon or work with industry partners on customizations, while also exploring our own novel silicon solutions. There could also be scenarios where we use both partner and custom solutions in the same product,” he mentioned. “It is all about doing what is needed to create the best metaverse experiences possible.”

The backdrop to all this can be a firm going through a number of stress. Meta’s income has dipped for the primary time (thanks partially to Apple’s modifications to how apps are allowed to trace customers), and Zuckerberg explicitly said plans to show up the warmth on workers whereas admitting, “I think some of you might just say that this place isn’t for you. And that self-selection is okay with me.” At the identical time, he is making a large wager on the metaverse — the corporate is spending, and shedding, billions of {dollars} per 12 months on the challenge, which incorporates AR and VR headsets.

It’s a high-stakes sport that Meta would presumably need to play as near the chest as doable. But for now, it appears the {hardware} prospects entry Zuckerberg’s Metaverse with (if they are going to try this in any respect, as a substitute of simply taking part in Beat Saber) will stay powered by someone else’s chips.

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