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AMD Offers Cheaper Chips to Cut Price of VR Gear

June 1, 2016, 12:57 PM UTC
General Views Inside Computex 2014
Visitors walk past the Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) booth at the Computex Taipei 2014 expo at the Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center in Taipei, Taiwan, on Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Computex runs through to June 7. Photographer: Chris Stowers/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Photograph by Chris Stowers — Bloomberg/Getty Images

Advanced Micro Devices unveiled a new line of graphics chips to power virtual reality software at a price that could bring the nascent technology within reach of more people.

But because graphics chips are only one component in the high-cost personal computers needed to run current cutting-edge VR gear from Facebook’s (FB) Oculus, HTC, and others, AMD’s cheaper offering won’t be enough by itself to make such a setup attractive to a mass market.

AMD’s (AMD) new Polaris line of chips will allow gamers and others desiring to add VR capability to their computers to purchase the required graphics for under $200, about half what such cards cost today. But that will bring down the price of an entry-level PC suitable for virtual reality only from about $1,000 to $800. And that doesn’t include the price of the VR gear—an Oculus Rift setup costs another $600, for example.

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The Polaris-based graphics card, announced Wednesday at the Computex show in Taiwan, may also to regular PC gamers looking for better performance at a modest price. AMD’s larger competitor, Nvidia (NVDA), released new high-end chips at Computex that will be included in graphics cards that cost $400 and up.

Virtual reality is one of the newer markets that AMD has been targeting as basic PC sales have sunk in recent years. So far, the company’s biggest gains among the new areas have come from sales of chips aimed at servers. Shares of AMD, which have leapt 59% this year, gained 2% in premarket trading Wednesday.