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Intel Jumps Head-First Into the Metaverse

Metaverse VR clipart
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Intel has finally spoken publicly about the Metaverse, the latest push from Meta (previously known as Facebook) toward a digitally-interconnected world. As the world's largest semiconductor manufacturer, Intel is a natural player in this science-fiction-meets-reality story. Its technological solutions are part of the backbone of computing itself, whether local (in your PC) or distributed (in the cloud). However, Intel seems to think its greatest efforts toward enabling and supporting the vision for an eventual Metaverse space won't come from the hardware realm. Instead, Intel is focusing on the elegant hell of software.

The basic gist of the situation is this. Intel has taken giant's steps since the introduction of the semiconductor in increasing available computing performance. These advances mean increased performance at a chip level, and the parallel advances in cloud infrastructure that can now stream interactive experiences (i.e., games) to a low-power, local device. But even these devices are now powerful enough to drive their own experiences. The CPUs in our mobile phones are now more powerful than the ones that were employed in the Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles, and GPUs are heading in the same direction.

In an interview with Quartz, Raja Koduri, head of Intel's accelerated computing systems and graphics group, said that " the [personal computers] are getting better, the phone is amazing these days, you’ve got a two-teraflop GPU in the phone… and then you have cloud. There's lots of progress made, but it is not enough." While it may sound impractical today, companies are working on bringing enough graphics performance to phones to support ray tracing — and it will come, in time.

These devices and others with embedded processing power are mostly left idle. The question then becomes: What if we could build an infrastructure that would allow for available computing resources in a network to be pooled together irrespective of manufacturer, and get them seamlessly and transparently working for the same goal? Koduri seems to think that this is an essential element in enabling a true Metaverse experience.

"One foundational thing we always knew is that for what we imagined in Snow Crash, what we imagined in Ready Player One, for those experiences to be delivered, the computational infrastructure that is needed is 1000 times more than what we currently have."

As reported by Reuters, Intel is currently developing such a software solution that would enable for computing resources to be pooled together according to usage requirements. Of course, that resource pooling across networks — and across vast stretches of physical space between your home and Microsoft's Xbox Cloud render farms, for example — requires many pieces to work in lockstep. Imagine powering up your laptop in your bedroom, starting a game, and your system automatically powers up other devices on your network, like a game consoles or a PC packing one of the best graphics cards.

"The compute that you need to render a photo-realistic you of me or your environment needs to be continued anywhere," added Raja Koduri. "That means that your PCs, your phones, your edge networks, your cell stations that have some compute, and your cloud computing needs to be kind of working in conjunction like an orchestra—between all of these three elements that deliver that kind of beautiful metaverse. It’ll take time."

Just how much time isn't exactly clear, but Intel is already working on the problem. And while software will undoubtedly play a big role, don't count out the hardware aspect. Something tells me we're not going to be joining the Metaverse on current generation smartphones and PCs, no matter how bullish Meta and Intel might seem.

Francisco Pires
Francisco Pires

Francisco Pires is a freelance news writer for Tom's Hardware with a soft side for quantum computing.

  • bigdragon
    I think the biggest problem plaguing these metaverse concepts and efforts is a fundamental disconnect between what people want vs what companies think people want.

    Is anyone in Ready Player One a complete 1:1 copy of their real life selves? What kind of avatars do people in VRChat or Second Life like to use? I don't think Bob from IT wants to appear as a stylized version of his real life self. I think Bob wants to appear as an idealized version of himself, a badass soldier, a mascot-sized fox, an anime hero, a city-crushing robot, or something else different from his real world aesthetic. I don't know a single person who wants to be themselves in the digital world.

    Companies are busy focusing on how they can monetize digital collectibles, virtual experiences, and a new generation of internet-connected tools. I think they've skipped right over the hook -- the thing that pulls someone into getting invested in a piece of media or technology. Give me an escape from real life and a new existential experience. A stylized human in a boardroom isn't going to do it -- I'll pass until you let me be the house-sized monster that's participating from a nearby window because the virtual room is too small for their body to fit.
    Reply
  • MarioAndLuigiPlumbing
    This meta-verse crap is so stupid. It's a tool to placate the most unmotivated and laziest of our society (a demographic which seems to be growing by leaps and bounds) to make them feel they're productive, prosperous and relevant in a fake world, while in the real work the Masters of the Universe help government and other multinational corporations strip you and your posterity of all dignity and wealth.

    How about putting down your virtual fantasies and get a real job and real responsibilities.

    Got, I hope this fad crashes and burns when the chickens come home to roost, haha.
    Reply
  • salgado18
    These devices and others with embedded processing power are mostly left idle.
    As they should be. Devices that run on batteries should never waste energy powering nothing but itself. Leave our phones alone.

    "One foundational thing we always knew is that for what we imagined in Snow Crash, what we imagined in Ready Player One, for those experiences to be delivered, the computational infrastructure that is needed is 1000 times more than what we currently have."
    The Matrix Awakens demo shows that you can get graphics very close to reality with the power of just one current-gen console. Are they really targeting even more than that demo for Meta? They want to build the Matrix itself?

    I'm actually happy they seem so delusional, it makes it flop faster or delay indefinitely.
    Reply
  • dalek1234
    Intel talks too much lately. Talk is cheap. Produce something good or STFU. Until then, this is all just marketing BS, and reeks of desperation, expecially this Metaverse story. AMD is going to be providing chips for Metaverse, and Intel not being part of that story, had to create its own. Utterly desparate and lame as eff.
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    So they're making a new Second Life?
    Will this one be any less weird than before?
    Reply
  • MarioAndLuigiPlumbing
    USAFRet said:
    So they're making a new Second Life?
    Will this one be any less weird than before?

    Did someone say "weird"?

    Reply