tl;dr: 0.7 of the Oculus PC SDK will launch on August 20th, and introduces architecture changes that bring increased stability, performance, and a new ‘Direct Driver Mode’ developed in collaboration with NVIDIA and AMD. However, as a result of these updates, the 0.7 runtime won’t support applications built with 0.5 or earlier, including all content built with Unity 4.x. This means the majority of existing Rift games and applications will need to be updated to 0.7 (or at least 0.6.0.1) to work with the new 0.7 runtime.
If you’re a developer with questions about updating to 0.7, please reach out to us through the Oculus Developer Forum. We’re here to help.
As we prepare for the launch of the Rift, one of the key milestones is shipping 1.0 of the Oculus PC SDK. We’re making good progress on 1.0, and on August 20th, we’ll be releasing 0.7 publicly.
0.7 is a major release of the PC SDK: it includes architecture changes that bring increased stability and more reliable low-latency performance across recommended hardware through a new, more robust ‘Direct Driver Mode’.
However, as a result of these underlying changes, the 0.7 runtime won’t support applications built with SDK 0.5 or earlier, including all current content built with Unity 4.x. This means the majority of existing Rift-ready games and applications will need to be updated to 0.7 or 0.6.0.1 to work with the new runtime.
We’ve outlined these changes, along with new information on how we’ll be handling updates to the SDK in the run up to 1.0, in more detail below.
As part of 0.7, we’ve removed ‘Extended Mode’, which commonly suffered from additional latency, and we’ve replaced it with a new ‘Direct Driver Mode’ that we’ve developed in collaboration with NVIDIA and AMD.
Direct Driver Mode is the most robust and reliable solution for interfacing with the Rift to date. Rather than inserting VR functionality between the OS and the graphics driver, headset awareness is added directly to the driver. As a result, Direct Driver Mode avoids many of the latency challenges of Extended Mode and also significantly reduces the number of conflicts between the Oculus SDK and third party applications. Note that Direct Driver Mode requires new drivers from NVIDIA and AMD, particularly for Kepler (GTX 645 or better) and GCN (HD 7730 or better) architectures, respectively.
We’re targeting a November release for the Oculus PC SDK 1.0. Future updates to the runtime post-1.0 will continue to support games and applications built using 1.0 (or any later release).
However, until 1.0 is available, each new release of the runtime will only guarantee support for the previous version of the SDK. This allows us to more rapidly evolve the software architecture and API on the path to shipping 1.0. In the case of 0.7, the runtime support will be limited to applications based on 0.6 and 0.6.0.1.
We realize that there are a significant number of games and applications based on older versions of the SDK, and we’re working hard to make the path to 0.7 as smooth as possible.
For Unreal developers, the current UE4 integration is based on 0.6 and we’ll ship a 0.7 integration alongside the core SDK.
Developers working with Unity 5.x can leverage the direct VR support built into Unity, which uses 0.6. We’re working with Unity to update Unity 5.x to 0.7 so that Unity 5.x users don’t have any additional work.
For developers that need to remain on Unity 4.x, we’re releasing a 0.6.0.1-based plugin, and we’ll continue to provide basic support for Unity 4 with future SDKs. However, we recommend Unity 5.x for the best SDK support and development experience.
If you have your own engine and you’re running into difficulty upgrading to 0.6 or 0.7, we’re happy to assist directly; please reach out through the Oculus Developer Forum. We’re here to help!
Thanks, and we look forward to seeing you soon in the Rift!
— The Oculus team