AMD Brings In More Virtual Reality Capabilities By Acquiring Nitero's IP And Talent

AMD is pushing deeper into the virtual reality market, announcing on Monday it acquired the intellectual property and engineering talent from Nitero.

Nitero's technology for wireless virtual reality headsets will help AMD broaden its portfolio to create more immersive computing experiences, said Mark Papermaster, AMD chief technology officer, and senior vice president.

"Unwieldy headset cables remain a significant barrier to driving widespread adoption of VR," he said in a statement. "Our newly acquired wireless VR technology is focused on solving this challenge, and is another example of AMD making long-term technology investments to develop high-performance computing and graphics technologies that can create more immersive computing experiences."

The pricing and conditions of the acquisition were not revealed. AMD did not respond to a request for comment before publication.

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Austin, Tex.-based Nitero approaches the augmented and virtual reality markets through its flagship product, a millimeter wave chip that uses high-performance 60 GHz wireless.

The chip has beamforming capabilities that help reduce the performance latency suffered by wireless devices, allowing the VR headsets to provide a more immersive experience, said AMD.

In addition to Nitero's IP, the company's co-founder and CEO Pat Kelly is joining AMD as vice president of Wireless IP. "Our world-class engineering team has been focused on solving the difficult problem of building wireless VR technologies that can be integrated into next-generation headsets," he said in a statement.

More chip manufacturers, like Intel and Qualcomm, are adopting virtual reality solutions as the demand for immersive computing dramatically increases. In November 2016, for instance, Intel snapped up virtual reality company Voke to boost its VR immersive experiences around sporting games.

AMD, for its part, hope to broaden its existing virtual reality portfolio with the acquisition. The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company's existing virtual reality lineup includes its LiquidVR virtual reality technology, a software development kit that is compatible with VR products like Oculus, HTC Vive, and Sulon.

The acquisition comes as AMD prepares to launch an array of new 14nm FinFET graphics cards based on its new Vega architecture. The graphics cards, which are targeted for enthusiast consumers, will benefit from the company's new virtual reality technology, said an AMD partner.

"I think this is a good acquisition for AMD," said Andrew Kretzer, director of sales and marketing at Bold Data Technology, a Fremont, Calif.-based system builder. "[AMD's] new Vega product is set to ship soon and VR is a big part of that launch. Low latency and wireless are important keys to the augmented reality field, so the Nitero IP should help AMD compete down the road in this expanding arena."