One of the Oculus Rift’s most helpful features is Asynchronous SpaceWarp (ASW), first introduced in late 2016. HTC Vive owners have been asking Valve, which makes the software for the HTC Vive, for an equivalent. A new feature delivered with the SteamVR Beta called ‘Motion Smoothing’ looks like it could be the answer.
Motion Smoothing works very much like ASW. When you’re not meeting (or near) 90FPS in VR, Motion Smoothing will kick in automatically. Motion Smoothing will force the running game/app to render at 45FPS, then generate a synthetic frame in between each real frame, extrapolating from image and the headset tracking data for a total of 90FPS. Half the frames will be “real” and half “synthetic”. Whenever your graphics card has enough free resources to achieve 90FPS normally, Motion Smoothing will automatically disengage and you will return to true 90FPS.
While Motion Smoothing appears to be a direct equivalent to Oculus’ ASW 1.0, Oculus recently announced ASW 2.0, which promises to reduce the kind of artifacts that can be seen by only using the color buffer by also using the depth buffer, which apps can send to the Oculus software. Valve have not indicated whether they are going to add this extra layer in Motion Smoothing.
Motion Smoothing should allow lower end systems to use the HTC Vive, and for higher end systems to better run demanding games like simulators in which framerate can fall even on the strongest of PCs. When Oculus introduced ASW they added a new “minimum specification” for the computer needed to run the Rift, allowing GPUs like the GTX 1050 Ti and GTX 960, but it is not yet known whether HTC will make a similar move when Motion Smoothing comes out of beta.