Valve today announced the beta release of a major new feature for SteamVR users: automatic resolution optimization tailored to both the current GPU and VR headset. Without user involvement, the feature enables connected headsets to experience superior graphics from high-performance GPUs, and the best use of limited resources from low-performance GPUs.
In short, SteamVR will measure your GPU’s speed and tell apps to render headset imagery at an appropriate resolution. On the high-performance side, a powerful GPU that isn’t being fully tapped by a headset will automatically generate supersampled images — ones that are rendered at a higher, smoother-looking resolution than the headset, but sent at the headset’s native resolution for display. But on the low-performance side, if the GPU can’t keep up with the headset’s demands, the resolution will automatically drop to a “slightly lower” level to match the GPU.
“All GPUs will be set to render at an appropriate resolution for the attached headset based on the GPU in their machine,” Valve says, but “application resolution will never be automatically set lower than the Vive or Rift’s native resolution.” Manual overrides will be available for users who want to adjust the settings.
Consumers and developers alike are expected to benefit from the new feature. Steam suggests that any “VR Ready” PC or GPU will now work properly with the latest high-resolution VR headsets, freeing users from the need to upgrade GPUs and headsets at the same time. Developers will be able to test apps solely with supported GPUs rather than individual GPU and headset combinations, understanding that resolution and refresh rates will automatically adjust based on the connected headset. Notably, “if a headset has a faster refresh rate than older headsets, the resolution will be scaled down based on the difference of refresh rates between headsets,” which will be “based on how many ‘VR megapixels per second’ we believe your GPU is safely capable of” most of the time.
Compatibility includes all SteamVR-compatible headsets ranging from Vives to Oculus Rifts and Windows Mixed Reality. You can experience the feature for yourself by opting into the SteamVR Beta from your Steam library.