|The HTC Vive Pro's processing components show a particular emphasis on low power and saving space. (Image source: iFixit)|
HTC's Vive Pro, the next generation of the popular Vive VR headset, includes features particularly targeted at enterprise users. With a larger field of view, a larger tracking space, and a pair of front-facing cameras for potential mixed reality and extended reality (XR) applications, HTC has aimed to make the Vive Pro an attractive proposition for engineers and designers, and not just gamers.
But what's going on under the hood of the Vive Pro? A recent iFixit teardown took a look at the inner workings of the headset and found a device that is surprisingly repairable and also carries some impressive processing power.
There are two printed circuit boards (PCBs) running the Vive Pro: one to handle sensing and cameras and another to handle audio and video. Given the specs, it looks like HTC put heavy emphasis on reducing power consumption and saving space in designing the Vive Pro.
The first PCB consists of two Nordic Semiconductor NRF24LU1P ultra low power, 2.4 GHz RF systems on a chip (SoCs). According to Nordic, the NRF24LU1 features an integrated voltage regulator for direct USB VBUS power as well as on-chip Flash that can be upgraded over USB for easy deployment of new features and bug fixes. The company says the SoCs are ideal for ultra-compact applications, such as USB dongles for wireless peripherals.
In addition, the Vive Pro features an Atmel SAM G55J 32-bit microcontroller. The SAM G55 series is based on the 32-bit ARM Cortex-M4 RISC processor with floating point unit. Atmel touts the G55 series MCUs for their software-selectable low power modes as well as a flexible clock system. That system allows devices to have different clock frequencies for peripherals, allowing for precise power consumption optimization.
Additional memory comes via two Winbond 25Q32JV1Q 4 MB Flash memory (on both the sensor and audio/video PCBs). According to Winbond, the W25Q32JV is targeted at providing storage for devices that have limited amounts of space, pins, and power and can operate on a single 2.7V to 3.6V power supply.
|The Vive Pro features two PCBs: one for sensor processing and one for audio visual processing. Both have components optimized for low power and VR performance. (Image source: iFixit)|
The sensor PCB is rounded out by an image signal processor: the AIT8589D from Alpha Imaging Technology and an iCE40HX8K ultra low power field programmable gate array (FPGA) from Lattice Semiconductor. The model TS4231 light-to-digital converter IC from Triad Semiconductor handles the conversion of the infrared pulses from the Vive's external lighthouse sensors. The TS4231 is specifically designed to be compatible with Valve SteamVR sensors like the ones that come with the Vive Pro.
The audio/video PCB features a plethora of chips. The standout among these components is the ANX7530 SlimPort (4K Ultra-HD) receiver from Analogix, a low-power 4K Ultra-HD (4096x2160p60) mobile HD receiver primarily targeting VR and augmented reality (AR) headsets. It features a 4-lane DisplayPort1.4 input and dual MIPI outputs. Those who follow the latest developments in the VR space will know the ANX7530 is also being used in the highly anticipated Pimax 8K VR headset (4K resolution per eye).
The good news for DIY enthusiasts, who may want to tinker or hack the HTC Vive, is that iFixit gave the device a repairability score of 8 out of 10. While the device is very complex with a lot of delicate parts (and no service manual), the Vive Pro is held together mostly with standard Philips and Torx screws for easy disassembly. The new earphones are also modular and come with instructions on removing them.
Visit iFixit for the full teardown with more specs and pictures.
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Chris Wiltz is a senior editor at Design News covering emerging technologies, including VR/AR, AI, and robotics.