According to an Intel engineer, the advent of the metaverse will require a profound transformation of the internet and how we use it. To make the virtual world believable, we would need 1000 times more computing power than we enjoy today.
The metaverse imagined by Mark Zuckerberg is not coming soon. This virtual world, where we can meet to chat, walk, have meetings or play, will ask “computing power multiplied by 1,000 compared to today a senior Intel executive said.
In a blog post, Intel’s head of innovation Raja Koduri took the liberty of expressing reservations on December 16, 2021 about the virtual fantasies of Mark Zuckerberg and other advocates of the metaverse.
The internet is not ready for the metaverse
“Imagine what is needed today to put two people in a social context within a virtual environment: compelling and detailed avatars with realistic clothes, hair and skin tones. All rendered in real time and based on sensor data that detect 3D objects, gestures, sounds and more in the real world“, Enumerates the person in charge, as if to show the difficulty of making even just two people interact in a convincing metaverse.
“Now imagine solving this problem on a large scale, for hundreds of millions of users at the same time»Reveals Raja Koduri,«you will soon realize that our current computing, storage and networking infrastructure is simply not sufficient to enable this vision “,concludes.
According to Raja Koduri, the metaverse will require “a far superior calculation capacityto that offered by today’s computers. Latency, these micro-delays between the execution of an action by an Internet user and its acknowledgment by the server, will also have to be significantly reduced, simply not to lag behind in the metaverse. “The entire internet infrastructure will need a major upgrade“, Explains the manager.
A metaverse of the privileged
Today, only the richest corners of the world have sufficient infrastructure and economic means to immerse themselves in a virtual world. And again, these worlds are closer to Second Life than the true metaverse promised by Mark Zuckerberg. In fact, it will take much more advanced and much more accessible technologies to make this dream a reality. Replicating all our movements on a 3D avatar today requires expensive and complex performance capture tools. Doing it for millions, even billions of people at once, is still a technophile’s sweet fantasy.
Nor should we forget that replacing infrastructure, producing new gadgets and continuing the race for power has a significant ecological cost. We recall that, according to the Senate, “70% of the total digital carbon footprint in France is due to the production of terminals (40% worldwide).Producing more VR headsets, gadgets and connected chips, in hopes of someday plunging into the metaverse, also means polluting more. The question here is not to stop innovation, but to ask whether the required sacrifices are worth it.
Globally, 40% of the digital carbon footprint is due to the production of terminals
At the Intel level, the production of processors1000 times more powerfulcompared to those of today does not mean that the ecological footprint will be 1000 times greater. Technological improvements often allow for more powerful and less energy-intensive processors.
Intel remains optimistic
Furthermore, such a leap in power will not be done only with semiconductors. Algorithms, neural networks, compression techniques… All these technologies will also improve our experience on the web. Together, these innovations make the promise of a future “1000 times more powerfulquite realistic. The Intel boss is also quite optimistic about this, swearing that “this technology, which allows immersive virtual worlds to augment the real world, opens up so many possibilities, is what makes me want to work every day“.
For the moment that said, the Internet is not ready for the metaverse and wanting to put your head in a virtual universe risks being costly economically and ecologically.