VirtualLink standard could pipe VR pixels through one USB-C cable


Anybody with a VR headset has known the joy of plugging in a mess of USB, HDMI, and possibly power cables. A new industry group wants to change all that with a new USB Type-C alternate mode called VirtualLink. If the new standard catches on, folks looking to jack in will need only to run a single USB Type-C cable from their future head-mounted device back to the PC.

VirtualLink's raw specs include four lanes of DisplayPort HBR3 connectivity for video signals, a "USB 3.1" data link for transporting signals between headsets and host systems, and up to 27 W of power delivery to juice up compatible headsets. The consortium says these features will help VirtualLink support headset features like integrated cameras for inside-out tracking and augmented reality, as well as the raw bandwidth requirements of higher-resolution and higher-refresh-rate headsets yet to come.

So far, VirtualLink is supported by Nvidia, Valve, Oculus, AMD, and Microsoft. The members of the consortium tout VirtualLink's open nature and the fact that it's "purpose-built for VR," including considerations for latency that more general display and audio standards might not account for. The VirtualLink 1.0 specification is still a work in progress, but interested parties can sign up for an overview of the spec at the consortium's website.

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