While most mid-high end GPUs and PCs can handle the basic demands of a lot of VR games out there, there’s always more work to be done on providing a stable and consistent experience. Going into beta today, SteamVR’s latest tech is Motion Smoothing, to help fudge the lines if a computer isn’t quite hitting the 90 frames per second required for smooth PC VR.
It’s a technology that has been used on TVs for years, taking images in sequence, comparing them them and then making a new frame that fits between them. For VR it has to be much smoother and without latency, though, and for that reason the tech will take the two previously rendered frames and extrapolate what the next frame will be. Doing this allows you to continue to play at 90Hz, but with the computer rendering only half the frames.
Now if all of that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s exactly what Oculus Rift has been doing since 2016 with Asynchronous Spacewarp, which also led to a major reduction in the hardware requirements. Motion Smoothing in SteamVR goes even further though, and can synthesise two or even three frames for every one frame being delivered.
What it means in practical terms is that lower end systems can use HTC Vive, while those with higher end PCs can push games that little bit further, rendering at a higher resolution or with more effects, and allow Motion Smoothing to catch when the frame rate falls.
It’s going into beta right now, and can be enables by right clicking on SteamVR in Steam’s Library > Tools section. Then select the Betas tab and choose ‘beta’ from the drop menu. It’s currently only enabled for PCs running Windows 10 with an Nvidia GPU and HTC Vive, as Oculus Rift and Windows Mixed Reality drivers handle things differently.