Perspective: The Metaverse Ushers in the Next Age of Computing

Perspective: The Metaverse Ushers in the Next Age of Computing

The metaverse. The term meta, by its most modern definition, can be described as self-referential or self-reflexive. In contemporary nomenclature, meta is often used as a standalone adjective. A “meta” name for a dog would be Dog or a meta movie – would be a movie about movies.

And so, we have the metaverse. Another world where people and businesses can inhabit to transact and interact without needing to be fully physically present. We’re still in the “imagine what it could be” phase of the metaverse. Digital worlds mean mutable worlds where almost anything or any scenario can be created. The promise of the metaverse animates digital copies of ourselves and real-world places into a space where they can be enhanced and idealized.

Many companies are hedging their metaverse bets and pitching in to help define the experience, such as Roblox Corporation which is building a creator economy metaverse while providing an open gaming platform for players to create their own digital and interactive worlds, and Apple which has patented the Head-Mounted System (HMD) Virtual Meetings Solution which will incorporate physical hand and arm movements for interaction in virtual meetings. It’s only two.

The metaverse is being defined right now. According to Gartner, the IT research and consulting group, 3 key steps must be completed to complete it. The emerging stage is where the metaverse market will begin to open up with experimental applications and use cases through established technologies like augmented and virtual reality. The late stage is when content becomes king, with data becoming the focus in terms of analyzing the relationships between the physical, the digital, and the physical and the digital combined. New businesses and applications will grow from understanding these relationships. The final stage of maturity, expected in 2030, is where the true metaverse will begin to appear. Building on new late-stage applications and powered by mature hardware, infrastructure will become the primary focus for vendors working to create the true backbone of a transformational, pervasive digital world.

Currently, work is underway to support the emerging phase. Digital twins and stand-alone single digital worlds are the first concepts to be realized in the metaverse, and with the computing power that exists today, we can achieve these first steps. But moving forward, the Metaverse, and how we imagine its full deployment, will require a lot more computing power than we currently use to bring it to the masses.

The metaverse prioritizes the need for a conversation about computing on a massive and yet unknown scale. Its foundation of digital twins and ever-moving digital worlds, as well as accurate simulations, will require far more computing power than is currently possible. For the digital and real worlds come together in a meaningful way, the metaverse needs a whole new computing base; it needs algorithms and calculations to be performed by room-sized supercomputers.

The metaverse will not only be a question of computing power. It will also require innovative integration between its hardware and the software that powers it. The hardware will be something never seen before for these compute-intensive circumstances, with software bringing AI/VR and algorithms together.

What we believe is that blurring the lines between the real world and the virtual will require a server farm of purpose-built and dedicated Metaverse hardware. The growing scale of the effort will require the Metaverse-specific server.

To carry out this technology, collaboration between software and hardware developers will be necessary. Seeing the metaverse grow in real time so that adjustments can be made along the way will also be necessary to ensure the experience matches what is expected. Simulations will need to be acceptable to the most tech-savvy end user, and evolving environments are key to creating an optimal experience with intelligent interaction that mimics the physical world as much as possible. Artificial intelligence will help turn the process into reality.

Once a digital space is complete, the simulations it contains bring it to life. AI-driven mechanical and thermal simulations and even AI-driven digital humans will use a series of algorithms to improve simulation accuracy, speed up movement and speed change, and improve the degree of realism for realistic interactions and experience. New levels of AI computing power will be required for the experience to be adopted by organizations.

If the metaverse is to become a reality, it must match or exceed the scale of the world in which we currently exist. In order to support this collaboration, real-time rendering, highly accurate simulation, and intelligent interaction, the Metaverse will require computing power on a scale that has yet to be created. What is needed to create this collaborative experience is a common source where the digital world and the physical world come together. It will include digital twins, digital humans who move seamlessly through scenes and time simulations where thousands of industries come together and do business.

About the Author

Liu Jun is Vice President and General Manager of AI and HPC at Inspur Information, one of the world’s leading AI server vendors. Liu has over 20 years of experience in AI and HPC and leads product development, applications and services within Inspur’s Artificial Intelligence and High Performance Computing division.

About the Author: Tiffany Shopkeeper

With over a decade of experience in the HPC space, Tiffany Trader is one of the most prominent voices in large-scale computing today.

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