Intel thinks the metaverse will need a thousand-fold increase in computing capability – The Verge

Intel thinks the metaverse will need a thousand-fold increase in computing capability – The Verge

Intel made its first statement on the metaverse on Tuesday — its first public acknowledgement of that sometimes-nebulous future of computing which promises an always connected virtual world that exists in parallel with our physical one. But while the chip company is bullish on the possibilities of the metaverse in abstract, Intel raises a key issue with realizing any metaverse ambitions: there’s not nearly enough processing power to go around.

“The metaverse may be the next major platform in computing after the world wide web and mobile,” an editorial begins from Raja Koduri, a senior vice president and head of Intel’s Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics Group. But Koduri quickly pours cold water on the idea that the metaverse is right around the corner: “our computing, storage and networking infrastructure today is simply not enough to enable this vision,” he writes. Crucially, Koduri doesn’t even think we’re close. He says that a 1,000x increase in power is needed over our current collective computing capacity.

A lot of the metaverse hype has been built around what you’ll do there, be it virtual reality meetings, digital concerts, and of course, blockchain and NFT-based integrations. And there’s plenty of excitement about the future of virtual and augmented reality headsets, too, whether it be Meta’s Quest products (formerly known as Oculus) or Apple’s long-rumored headset.

But the actual building blocks of the metaverse aren’t just going to be software and virtual spaces (which, of course, is its own fight, given that today’s digital worlds are extremely self-contained) or even the headsets and gadgets people wear to “get” there. It’ll be in the computers and servers that run the vast shared virtual worlds the metaverse posits as the future of technology. And it’s there that Intel has the biggest reality check: today’s computers are just simply not powerful enough to make those dreams a reality. They’re not even close.

Today’s computers aren’t even close to powerful enough for the metaverse

On the one hand, the statement here is almost laughably obvious. Meta’s flagship VR space, Horizon Worlds, maxes out at 20 participants for a space, and that’s for basic, Roblox-style animated worlds. The state of the art in VR still requires thousands of dollars of PC gaming hardware, with plenty of drawbacks (like requiring a tethered headset and graphics that still don’t measure up to what 2021’s best flatscreen games can offer). And even the biggest traditional video games that aren’t dealing with the added demands of VR like Fortnite or Battlefield 2042 can only handle up to 100 to 128 players at a time.

As Koduri notes in his editorial, we can’t even put two people in a truly detailed virtual environment with today’s technology. “Consider what is required to put two individuals in a social setting in an entirely virtual environment: convincing and detailed avatars with realistic clothing, hair and skin tones – all rendered in real time and based on sensor data capturing real world 3D objects, gestures, audio and much more; data transfer at super high bandwidths and extremely low …….