Latest Oculus Unity Integration Expands HTC Vive Support, Improves Rift GPU Performance

by David Heaney • December 27th, 2018

Last month, Facebook added basic support for HTC Vive to the Oculus Unity Integration. In the December release the company expanded that support, as well as reducing the GPU cost of Oculus Rift support.

Rift Performance Improvement

The Rift’s GPU performance improvement in Unity apps has been achieved by making the occlusion mesh culling “more aggressive”. This should free up some GPU time for rendering. However, it comes at the cost of making the editor preview smaller.

OVROverlay: Vive Support & New Sample

The latest feature of Oculus Integration to support the HTC Vive (and in theory any SteamVR headet) is OVROverlay. This is the Oculus compositor layers system, sometimes called “TimeWarp layers”. On HTC Vive these layers will be passed to SteamVR’s compositor.

oculus timewarp layers
Image from Oculus Developer Guide

CTO John Carmack often espouses the importance of rendering UI & text via TimeWarp layers. He went as far as calling it “the biggest” tip for sharp text in VR. OVROverlay is the way to do this in Unity.

As well as adding support for OVROverlay to HTC Vive, this update also adds a new sample scene & tutorial for the feature. Carmack has often noted in his public talks that many developers still don’t utilize this, so the new sample scene should be a great help. If you’re a developer of a VR app that doesn’t use compositor layers for your text, we¬† recommend checking it out. VR headsets are low enough resolution as it is, so you should use all the software tricks available.

Oculus Unity Profiler

The final addition of 1.32 is the Oculus Profiler Panel, a popup window for Unity specifically made for profiling VR performance. It works on Rift apps locally and from Oculus Go over USB. The release notes state that the feature doesn’t work properly on Gear VR yet. This is a welcome addition and should make finding the cause of performance issues easier.

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