Microsoft’s next-generation Hololens will be an augmented reality Always Connected PC. Qualcomm reassured us that more “aggressive form factors” will be coming to the Snapdragon PC platform, and the latest rumor suggests that Microsoft could release its Hololens with the same Snapdragon 850 chipset that’s found on today’s convertible Always Connected PCs, like the HP Envy x2 and the Samsung Galaxy Book 2. The Qualcomm-powered headset could debut for enterprise customers by the second quarter of 2019.
An earlier rumor suggested that Microsoft may rely on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR1 platform, a chipset that is designed specifically for augmented and virtual reality applications, on its next HoloLens, but we’re now learning that Microsoft may favor the always-on LTE connectivity found on the Snapdragon 850. Though Microsoft didn’t opt for Qualcomm’s flagship processor, the recently announced Snapdragon 8cx chipset, Microsoft reaffirmed that the next Hololens will utilize an A.I. coprocessor. Coprocessors dedicated to machine learning and artificial intelligence have been used in the past on rival chips, such as the Apple A series processors on recent iPhones and Huawei’s Kirin processors.
If accurate, the move to Snapdragon 850 chipset will bring Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X20 modem to Hololens. This would not only allow augmented and virtual reality applications to connect away from Wi-Fi networks and hotspots, but having a dedicated LTE connection could also deliver additional security benefits to enterprise applications, and this is precisely the demographic that Microsoft is targeting.
By moving to ARM-based processors for Hololens, Microsoft would shift away from Intel for its augmented reality headset. Hololens currently ships with an Intel Atom CPU. Both Microsoft and Qualcomm have been heavily promoting Snapdragon’s instant-on capabilities and long battery life for its Windows on ARM initiative, and these key features will likely also arrive on the next Hololens. The next-generation Hololens is also believed to be lighter and come with a more ergonomic form factor that will help reduce fatigue from extended use. It’s also said to arrive with improved holographic displays, according to Hot Hardware.
Neowin reported that the Hololens performance should be better than what consumers are getting today on the Lenovo Yoga C630 or the Samsung Galaxy Book 2, despite all these devices sharing the same Snapdragon 850 processor. The reason is that the Hololens is expected to ship with the Windows Core OS or WCOS. Microsoft will strip away the legacy support layers on Windows Core OS, which could aid with performance.
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