Microsoft’s next-generation console, the Xbox One, is widely believed to be just that little bit less powerful than Sony’s PlayStation 4. Recent increases to both the GPU and CPU clocks have lessened the gap, and according to Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry, in future the gap could be even smaller. They reveal that a full 10 per cent of the of the system’s graphics capability is currently reserved for Kinect and apps, but that it could be unlocked to game developers in the future.

“Xbox One has a conservative 10 per cent time-sliced reservation on the GPU for system processing. This is used both for the GPGPU processing for Kinect and for the rendering of concurrent system content such as snap mode,” Microsoft engineer Andrew Goossen told Eurogamer in an interview on the Xbox One’s innards.

“The current reservation provides strong isolation between the title and the system and simplifies game development – strong isolation means that the system workloads, which are variable, won’t perturb the performance of the game rendering. In the future, we plan to open up more options to developers to access this GPU reservation time while maintaining full system functionality.”

What he’s saying then, is that Kinect is holding the Xbox One back? Well no, not really – but it does mean there’s some untapped power in the Bone, just waiting to be unleashed. so, if there’s all that extra power under the hood, why are games like Ryse and killer Instinct running at sub1080p resolutions? It doesn’t matter, ‘cos they look great anyway, thanks to the next generation scaler on the One.

“We’ve chosen to let title developers make the trade-off of resolution vs. per-pixel quality in whatever way is most appropriate to their game content. A lower resolution generally means that there can be more quality per pixel. With a high quality scaler and anti-aliasing and render resolutions such as 720p or ‘900p’, some games look better with more GPU processing going to each pixel than to the number of pixels; others look better at 1080p with less GPU processing per pixel,” replied Goossen.

“We built Xbox One with a higher quality scaler than on Xbox 360, and added an additional display plane, to provide more freedom to developers in this area. This matter of choice was a lesson we learned from Xbox 360 where at launch we had a Technical Certification Requirement mandate that all titles had to be 720p or better with at least 2x anti-aliasing – and we later ended up eliminating that TCR as we found it was ultimately better to allow developers to make the resolution decision themselves. Game developers are naturally incented to make the highest quality visuals possible and so will choose the most appropriate trade-off between quality of each pixel vs. number of pixels for their games.”

What do you think? Freedom for developers on resolutions a good thing? would you prefer a 720p game, upscaled, that packs as many effects and as much detail in to each pixel, or games running at higher resolutions?

Last Updated: October 3, 2013

was reviewed on PC

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