Microsoft has detailed some of the technical specifications that power the firm's HoloLens virtual reality headset, including a holographic processing unit (HPU) that runs alongside the main microprocessor to provide the imagery .
The HPU has a 28nm co-processor with 24 digital signal processing (DSP) cores and 1GB of DDR3 RAM, and was designed by Silicon Valley semiconductor design company Tensilica and manufactured by TSMC.
The 24 cores contain 65 million logic gates and 8MB of static RAM, and the 1GB of low-power DDR3 RAM works separately from the 1GB already on Intel's 14nm Atom Cherry Trail processor system-on-a-chip that runs Windows 10.
This enables the HPU to focus on processing sensor information from environments and gestures in hardware to keep the augmented reality (AR) element ticking over.
The HPU needs less than 10W to run, and can apparently handle a trillion calculations a second.
The specs were unveiled this week at the Hot Chips conference in Cupertino, California by Microsoft devices group engineer Nick Baker.
We're still not entirely happy with the severe letterboxing of the AR viewing area, but the HPU/Cherry Trail combination provides a fast, consistent and often very impressive AR experience.
Windows 10 is expected to have a 3D desktop environment by 2017, so we might soon start to see Microsoft's promise of enterprise-relevant HoloLens functionality beyond the endless promotional videos of architects and medics mucking around.
Whatever happens with HoloLens itself, it is interesting to see a company continuing to champion the notion of AR after Google Glass sank without trace and everybody else is shutting us into VR headsets just to play motion sickness-inducing shooters.
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