Next gen console graphics

Discussion in 'Console Games' started by tipman2000, Dec 19, 2011.

  1. tipman2000 macrumors member


    Nov 29, 2009
    So hey guys, i had a great idea for a concept of how the next generation consoles could achieve better graphics than the current generation. As anyone who has worked with video graphics or computer graphics, some of the main things that tax and bog down modern computers when rendering video game graphics are as follows:
    -texture quality/size

    Now, i have an idea about how we can tackle all of these problems and make the next generation of consoles (xbox720, ps4, etc etc...) have, as an article a while back claimed -- "Avatar-level visuals".

    here is how a current generation console is organized:
    multicore processor
    single graphics chip (plus a unit to handle AA in xbox360)
    HDD to feed info to ram and vram

    here is the new system and here is how it will work.

    highly multicore processor
    extremely fast system bus
    duo graphics chips on one card
    discrete unit similar to graphics add-on unit in xbox360 that will take care of antialiasing
    SSD drive built in (~8-32GB in size)

    -as with current gen ps3, a core or 2 on the cpu will be reserved for the system
    -a few cores will deal solely with geometry (1 of the GPUs will tesselate the low polygon output, but more on that later)
    -most cpu cores will be left to perform rendering of real-time effects, like calculating the behavior of fire, or creating visual effects like never before

    -design will have two separate GPUs on one chip, similar to RADEON 6970 chip currently being made.
    -second GPU unit will heavily tesselate the image. you will never again see individual polygons like earlier consoles.
    -without having to do antialiasing or tessellation, the first GPU is left to perform all other GPU-centric tasks like post-processing with ease.

    -in the past, all textures in games are held in the main memory or the video memory. because the system bus on hardware is getting so fast, the SSD can actually be used to store huge textures xbox360 and ps3 could never dream of rendering because their textures were stored in vram or ram. this also leaves ram and vram to other tasks.

    without having to perform the most burdensome tasks that simply get harder with more graphically advanced games, the main system can render the game to look closer to real life than ever before.

    as many who game know, it sucks when frame rates lag and makes supposedly advanced games suddenly seem mediocre. as a failsafe, games developed for the next generation must never fall under 40 frames per second on the final release. if they do, the developer will not be allowed to publish the game until the frame rate is brought up.
  2. cerote macrumors 6502a


    Mar 2, 2009
    You have to think about price. I am sure they would love to shove a pair of 350$ graphics card into their systems but they still have to make them cheap enough for consumers and for them to eventually make a profit on. Most of the time they sell the systems at a loss during the start because the actual cost is far to high to reel in consumers.
  3. Dagless Suspended


    Jan 18, 2005
    Fighting to stay in the EU

    I'm hoping that the next gen systems will have games running at 1080p 60fps as standard, hopefully in "3D mode" too. And hopefully some clever art directors who can make all these fancy new games not look the same.

    As for SSD, I don't think we'll be seeing those in consoles any time soon. Well optimised games can hide load times really well, all you need is some fast memory (which they already have, just add more of it) and some background caching.

    I mostly skipped out on the current gen up until recently and I'm appalled (although not surprised given how old these machines are) by how bad games look. Almost everything at 720p with no AA, 30fps, even small download games which you think wouldn't tax the systems performance run at the lowest standards to qualify as "HD".
  4. Ungibbed macrumors 6502


    Dec 13, 2010
    Just like the generation before this, most console games were held back by the lowest common platform. In the previous generation (PS2, Xbox, Gamecube) many of the advanced features of the newer systems were rarely touched as the PS2 was the lead development platform and the visuals of multi-platform titles from third parties looked nearly identical to each other.

    The only time you would see the newer system "flex their muscles" was by an exclusive franchise that simply could not be done on the others. Examples was Halo 2 for the Xbox, and the latter Star Wars shooter on the Nintendo Gamecube Rebel Strike.

    Often I would have Rebel Strike running on the Gamecube (or even the Wii) and the visuals would have never been thought to come from the tiny machine with so many visual effects that were impossible on the PS2.

    Fast forward to today, the common platform is the Xbox 360, easy to code for with current PC tools earlier dev kits were based on the PowerMac G5 since the architecture was so similar.

    This console generation is a mess though, The Xbox 360 enjoyed nearly a year lead, while Sony was finalizing the PS3 design and Nintendo brought us a souped up Gamecube with more memory and nearly twice the processor speed. The ATi GPU remained unchanged so the Wii had full hardware backward compatibility (which helped a great deal but it could not compare in hardware of the 360 or the PS3.

    The PS3 was very hard to code for and only the best developers (even now) know how to get the most out of the system but again with exclusive titles for the 360 also showed some muscle due to lead market time and the 360 for multiplatform games in order to get the most from both the 360 and the PS3, corners were cut or resolutions were scaled down for the sake of rendering speed and other compromises were made in order to make it to release date.

    HD as we all know is very unforgiving and tricks done on game systems from years ago took advantage of the limitations of the older CRT design and NTSC/PAL standards.

    The largest hurdle for the next generation of game consoles is not only keeping cost per unit as low as possible but to also push forward innovation and games that look the part where we abandon what we have now and simply move on.

    1080P should be a target minimum with no internal scalar trickery such as Halo 3 and it's native 640p internal render or Metal Gear on the PS3 with a internal anamorphic resolution of 1024x768 stretched to fill "1080p".

    The Wii on the other hand could have been great but became a dumping ground of quick buck shovelware. I still have my PS3 and Wii as they still provide great entertainment. The PS3 being my primary gaming platform and the Wii for the Nintendo exclusives and classic games on the virtual console services which to me is a technical marvel. Perfect emulation of classic systems with a processor running under 1 Ghz and seeing other emulators requiring three times the computing power to perform the same. That amazes me and the classics over the years I enjoyed are all on a tiny console ready to go at a moments notice

    Nintendo has shown what could be their next system and on paper, it looks great as well as the tech demos. The same could be said for Microsoft's next leap (lets hope they don't rush it this time with a red ring nightmare) and the next from Sony that hopefully when it launches will cost less than what I paid for my PowerBook G4 when the PS3 hit the shelves (and hope you don't get mugged for it in the parking lot).

    There is a bit of life left in what we have now, the question is if you're willing to deal with the complications and sacrifices you make to play the next games coming up or wait for a Mac/PC version?
  5. tipman2000 thread starter macrumors member


    Nov 29, 2009

    While this is true and i see your point obviously, we have to realize that at the time the ps3 and 360 came out the graphics chips they used were around $300 for the PC part. (nvidia 7800 256 in ps3) also, a chip like the 4870 which has been around for 3 years now and costs around 150 runs cry engine 2 which is many times more complicated than the cryengine3 joke on current gen consoles. point is that if they launched the next gen tomorrow, the visuals would easily be 1080p on all games, have AA and motion blur and all the other fancy HDR and everything.
  6. tipman2000 thread starter macrumors member


    Nov 29, 2009

    my thoughts exactly!

    except for the SSD part, as you can pick up an 8GB SSD for extremely cheap, as cheap as 8GB of SDRAM.

    ditto on the whole "HD" thing. for those with 1080 sets, many games look like crap, and then they all run at 30fps. i really wish developers would focus a bit more on making games smooth, because no matter how beautiful your masterpiece looks, if it stutters and lags, it instantly becomes less fun and the magic is gone. i don't have a ps3 or anything, but i recently went to best buy and took a look at the uncharted demo. while it was beautiful and everything, there were places i looked where the texture was no better than a ps2, and the frame rate was constantly too low.

    I really hope the next generation drops sooner than later, because at this point consoles aren't really going to get sold and they keep trying to spice up the stagnant market with XBL "interface updates" that just bring ads into a paid experience, and things like "slim" models that don't really do much other than bring manufacturing costs down and give fanboys a reason to blow another $300 for the same experience. Yes, all friends i know with slim models already had older ones.
  7. Dagless Suspended


    Jan 18, 2005
    Fighting to stay in the EU
    I've always felt that this generation has been trying to punch above its weight. Some games look great and play at high resolutions (GT5), but the majority don't.
    Was that Uncharted 3? I'd say that's a great example of how to make a current gen game look great.

    They're still selling awfully well.
    I'm not sure why Microsoft feel the need to release a new look UI every couple of years (how many have we had now, 3 or 4?) but there are still new and interesting games coming out for these systems, so they'll continue to sell and probably well into next gen territory too.

    I don't really know anyone who bought a machine they already owned, but quite a few of my friends avoided buying consoles until their slim version was released. I waiting on getting a PS3 until the Slim model.
  8. tipman2000 thread starter macrumors member


    Nov 29, 2009

    yes it was uncharted 3, and it was okay, but not incredibly fantastic. maybe a lot of the luster is gone simply because of the fact that we've already seen similar games for the last few years.

    wow, fantastic! i didn't know anything like this vgcharts existed! thanks for the link!

    slim in my opinion are really only good for saving space, but to each his own!
  9. Dagless Suspended


    Jan 18, 2005
    Fighting to stay in the EU
    (In general) they use less power, fix hardware faults, add new ports and other new tech.
    With PSPs they improved the displays, sped up loading times, built-in microphone.
    With DS's they improved the displays, added new wifi tech, cameras, storage slots.

    Unless you really need a console it's always best to wait.
  10. MRU Suspended


    Aug 23, 2005
    Remember there is a solid plan in regards to the costing of hardware. Both Sony and Microsoft when looking at GPU and CPU options, have leverage of the fact that they will be selling that hardware for the next 5-8 years. So this guarantees them a substantial saving / deal with hardware suppliers
    So whilst a very decent GPU may cost €500 for consumers to buy for their PC. For hardware manufacture that cost is prob less than a third of that price from outset. Add to the fact that unlike most top-end PC cards, these will be manufactured on a much greater scale reducing costs substantially, also the lifespan of its manufacturer means they can offset year 1 prices by year 3,4 and 5 etc. They can't do that in PC gaming.

    So I do exect that when the new consoles are released at €500 - the new consoles will be substantially cheaper than buying the same / similar hardware in a PC case at that time. Of course by year 3,4 and 5 PC will be cheaper and prob more powerful, but from day 1 the new hardware will be up there with the best gaming rigs.
  11. Dagless Suspended


    Jan 18, 2005
    Fighting to stay in the EU
    And bound by the worst license agreements and limitations.
  12. MRU Suspended


    Aug 23, 2005

    Not always at all. PC gaming to me has much stricter agreements and greater limitations to the end consumer.

    DRM for one can be a nightmare on PC. Always on connection required to play a game(ubisoft and others) is terrible. It punishes end users who have paid hard earned money for an item, because of piracy concerns of te publishers. They punish the wrong folks.

    Then there is te cost of software and trade ins etc...

    If I buy a PC game in store, I can't trade it in because of the EULA restricting resale and because of Keys/DRM meaning once completed I have games just filling shelf space that are then worthless.

    Console games at least can be traded in and therefore serve a better use and provide greater value.

    Whilst this may seem acceptable trade off if PC gaming was a lot cheaper, often these days it isn't. Especially on Origin / Steam.

    PC gaming especially on Steam, is as expensive as console gaming again with the bigger dawbsvk of not being able to sell it off should I not use or like the game.

    Skyrim cost €50 On Steam, I could pick up the 360/PS3 version for €45 for a physical copy, and now I have finished it, I could trade it in and get back at least €20 resulting in a cost of €25 for Skyrim.

    Instead I bought on Steam, and so it ended up costing me twice as much.

    I'm gaming a lot more on my PC of late simply because of graphical quality. Skyrim on Ultra at 1080p compared to the consoles low/med setting at 720 is a huge difference.

    Had either console been able to play at higher I would have got Skyrim for them instead. Especially given the cost.


    Then there are the other myriad of issues of PC gaming, updating graphic card drivers to get better performance from game A, but could result in poorer performance with other games in your library.

    Or a million other scenarios. The fact your dependent on Windows OS, and buying a new copy of Windows if it doesn't come Pre-loaded is again expensive in itself, almost as much as a console in its own right.

    DRM is a pain in the arse -especially games requiring always on connections (ubisoft and others)


    PC gaming will remain the 'enthusiast' machine, but for me console gaming remains a better sell for the mainstream.
  13. peskaa macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2008
    London, UK
    One thing that can be said about the next generation of consoles is that they won't cost ridiculous amounts - Sony lost enough money on the PS3 by going down the high-end route that it crippled the finances. Nintendo have been the only ones making a profit on every single unit sold. There's the slight advantage that BluRay won the format war, so drive units will be cheap.

    As such, we'll be seeing more 'off-the-shelf' solutions. Development on the Cell has stopped, so Sony will be forced back to a more standard CPU, with the advantage that it may well be easier to code for.

    I'm expecting to see quad-core CPUs (possibly with an equivalent of HyperThreading for 8 logical cores) from Microsoft and Sony, of some flavour. Exact speed depends on when exactly launch is going to be, but it'll be a generation or two behind what's available in computers (ie: if launch is in 2013, we'll be getting something roughly equivalent to a Sandy Bridge CPU). Hexacores are simply too expensive, without even looking at octocores, and a custom CPU solution is going to push up the R&D.

    GPU? Same as the CPU really, expect it to be a generation or two behind the pace when launched. This will be because the design will be 'locked in' at least a year or two prior to the actual launch to allow further design and ultimately several months of production. It'll be a decent unit, but not top of the line - thing 6870 rather 6990.

    RAM will be plentiful compared to the current generation which has caused problems. I'd be expecting around 2GB all told, shared between system and video.

    SSD? A small one might be used in a style similar to the hybrid drives, but most storage is going to be mechanical still - gamers want bigger and bigger drives, which isn't going to happen with SSDs any time soon.

    The end result is going to be a crop of consoles that can finally output 1080p consistently, even in 3D mode, whilst maintaining a 30+ fps. We'll also get some AA.

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