On Monday, August 22, at the HotChips conference in Cupertino, California, Microsoft has revealed the details of the mysterious Holographic Processing Unit that powers its HoloLens augmented reality (AR) goggles.
HoloLens' Holographic Processor
When users enjoy using the HoloLens AR headset they are literally wearing a supercomputer on their face. Now we finally known the secret behind the mysterious holographic processor used in Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality (AR) headset.
A "Holographic Processing Unit" able to perform a trillion operations per second is powering Microsoft's AR gadget. Each core of the 24-core processor is focusing on a particular task.
According to CNET, the HPU is a custom-designed chip that contains a processor with 24 cores built on 28nm technology. By comparison, in a typical consumer computer the processor has 8 cores at most.
While measuring only 12mm by 12mm, the HPU comes with a layer of 1 GB of DDR3 RAM on top of 8 MB of SRAM cache memory. The cutting-edge holographic processor comes with some 65 million logic gates.
All the input and output necessary for the AR goggles such as environment sensing and other are handled by the HPU. The holographic processor is also able to process the wearer's gestures by aggregating data from sensors. Each of the processor's cores has a particular task to focus on during operation.
HoloLens And Augmented Reality
The Microsoft HoloLens AR goggles also come with a low-power system-on-chip that works with the HPU to deliver augmented reality. The low-power system-on-chip runs Windows 10.
According to ArsTechnica, the HPU provides the CPU with highly processed data that is exposed to the 3D programs running on the AR goggles. The whole chip consumes under 10 W. By comparison, the Intel Cherry Trail Atom SoC that provides the HoloLens's CPU and GPU consumes only 4 W.
To some degree, Microsoft ensured that the design of its cutting-edge HPU is future proofed. The high-performance holographic processor has plenty of compute cycles available at the moment, since it operates at no more than 50 percent of its capacity.