Havok On How Expanded PS4/Xbox One Memory & Optimized Middleware Will Help Devs

Still a requirement for middleware to have smallest possible memory footprint though.

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Though it’s been a little over a month since the Xbox One and PS4 released, there are still doubts whether memory will be sufficient to last an entire generation. Xbox One allocates 5GB of RAM for games and  we’re still a little unclear on how much the PS4 allocates. There have been rumors of 5.5 GB earlier but nothing is concrete at the moment. Regardless of how much RAM these systems have, Havok’s Head of Product Management Andrew Bowell believes it will ultimately result into developers doing more in their games.

“Developers have long dreamt about more RAM. RAM has been so scarce over the last 20 years in console hardware that I feel many prayers have been answered this time around However it will take absolutely no time for artists to use all available RAM, even 8 GB, you can be sure of that,” he said to GamingBolt.

He also explained how Havok deals with sudden developer requests, especially concerning features that might not currently be supported by the engine, and how easy or difficult it is to scale the engine in such circumstances.

“In terms of Havok technology, it has always been our goal to enable developers to do more with less. Even with the large amounts of RAM available, the developers will still find ways to use even last byte. To that end, it is always a requirement for middleware to have the smallest possible memory footprint. This is also becoming even more of a requirement as console developers look at ways to bring their title to mobile platforms.”

It’s already been obvious, especially with concerns to hurdles such as the Xbox One’s eSRAM. However, for developers to be able to utilize, say, all the available game memory of the PS4? It will be a while before something like this is possible, but take that as an assurance that the next generation of consoles isn’t going anywhere any time soon.


  • Guest

    That’s why next gen is really not a next gen at all and rather a .5 gen because it took them way too long and hasn’t even the same level of current day PC hardware. Soo many fools falling for it right now too, especially $0N¥ paupers from N4G and NeoFAG.

    • hesoyamdonMonster

      but if these console have the next gen high end pc spec non of us can afford it. pc is ever growing beast, cant not be compare to console. so call gamer who buy console aint fool. If they arent console we wont have had this many game with such huge audience. Either you own a console nor pc for game u will always be the winner.

  • incendy

    This is a case where cloud computing can be incredibly useful. For example, if you have a game that has dynamic character creation or dynamic world creation the rendering of those elements can be offloaded to the cloud and brought back to the game in many cases. Same thing with shadows, creating a low detailed shadow on the device first and then using the cloud to return a very detailed and soft shadow. This extra detail will not effect gameplay and if the network dies you still have your game, but it gives artists that extra memory and cpu to create the visuals they are truly aiming for but do not have the power to create.

    Of course it would be great if you could do it all on the local machine “with no network requirements”, but the reality is one device will never be as powerful as many.

    • Jewy McJew

      Latency… horrible horrible latency.

    • incendy

      Latency in the cases I stated plays no role. You won’t do anything with the data until you have it. Cloud computing won’t be used for immediate rendering, only delayed rendering. If you never get the data back you will still play the game, but with less detailed visuals.

    • Jewy McJew

      I can’t see a programming team spending the time and money to create non-critical delayed rendering… its a big enough pain programming netcode for an unpredictable wired world!

      I think the Division will be setting the new standard. Whatever processing power their real-time lighting model is using up, it’s worth it! Besides the incredible life-like results, just not having to pre-bake must save a ton of time.

    • mhunterjr

      That’s what middleware is for…

    • incendy

      I definitely would, any tool I can use to get more is awesome to me. It wouldn’t be a focus of development for me, but I would definitely look at ways I could provide the most beautiful game possible using every resource available.

    • hesoyamdonMonster

      we are far away form this technology, not every one owns a console has reliable internet connection.

    • incendy

      That is fine, it is optional details. It isn’t required for the game to play. Just an option for artists to do more when it is available.

    • Hussain Naseem

      as per the example that you have cited, we’ll be having shadows popping in all over the place. it would be a horrible effect

    • incendy

      The shadow is already there, rendered on your console. You would only be gaining detail. Think of it like watching youtube when it starts out low detail but as you watch it the details “quality” gets better. There is no popping in, there is only clearer better details that are being applied. If you have a decent connection the details will be there from the start, if you do not, it will get better over time. And if you do not have internet you will still have the shadow that your console is able to render on its own with less details.
      I hope that makes sense to you?

    • Hussain Naseem

      What you have been trying to imply has been quite clear. But do you honestly think that a gamer who buys a 60$ game should have to settle for shadows with artifacts just coz his internet connection is slow. I for one can clearly see the difference between a 240p youtube video and a 1080p youtube video, and would abhor having to settle for 240p quality even for a minuscule moment.

    • incendy

      I was just using the youtube example to give an idea of details being added, to help understand that there would not be pop ins but added details. Your starting point in this situation is what your console can do on its own and not related to resolutions at all, but instead of the quality of the object being rendered. You would still have the level of detail in the game that your console is able to achieve on its own without extra help.

    • Axe99

      The big question with the cloud (other than latency – you’re assuming the game your playing has baked-in and not real-world shadows there, or you’re going to have smooth edge ‘pop-in’ for your shadows) is that who is going to pay for it? Microsoft have gone large talking about their 300,000 (Azure – not just XBL) servers in the cloud, but they cost room space (rent), electricity, maintenance and replacing from time-to-time, and none of this is free, and Microsoft isn’t a charity for gamers’ entertainment….. To get more out of the cloud, we’ll have to pay more, and unlike the console ‘pay once and you own it’ (as the console owner covers rent, electricity and maintenance) it’ll require an ongoing charge for the business model to make sense. There’s almost no doubt that for the cloud to go large for anything of substance, it’ll require a hike to XBL/PS+ (as if the cloud is successful Sony’ll do it to – the cloud by its very nature is not specific to any particular hardware configuration, beyond needing an ethernet port and network adapter). Personally, I prefer to keep my processing local (have you seen Killzone Shadowfall? That’s plenty purdy enough for me, is a launch title, and requires no cloud (well, other than for MP ;))), and my ongoing costs as low as possible.

    • incendy

      I am not talking about Xbox Live in particular, just cloud computing. I expect all companies to implement it in different ways. Developers could even provide services to make your PC’s in your house compute for your console with no recurring costs for them maintain the hardware behind it. They could even take that idea further and make it like Torrents where anyone can become a computing client if they opt into the network etc.

    • Axe99

      Aye – if they can get distributed computing happening (one of the ideas Sony had with the Cell, although it was half-baked at very best) then you could use local PCs as computing clients. I’m not sure about an opt-in processing network though – the electricity cost of running a computer using a significant proportion of its CPU isn’t insignificant, most users would wise up to this pretty quick and it’d likely be limited to people that needed to use the network as much (or more) as they were taking out of it.

    • incendy

      True, you would have to have an incentive to opting in and allowing use of your computer as a client. As you say a give/take model or you could have game incentives or ways for users to make money by providing computing time, etc.
      As for using local computers, it is really no different than using computers that are connected over the internet, in fact much faster connection speeds. Blender and Maya already have software clients that do this for creating rendering farms that distribute tasks across them on your local network. To go through that hassle, you would have to really want more detailed graphics though haha. But just an idea of possibilities.

    • Eric M.

      Your argument is confusing. By paying the “paywall” or Xbox Live if you will, means we are already paying for the servers now. The determining factor for the cloud and its effectiveness will be totally dependent on your Internet speed and ping/latency. Unless, the Xbox One has extra memory for storing incoming instructions from the Cloud we don’t know about, you will need blazing speeds, especially online.
      And 60 dollars a year for XBL is a lot. Just think about how many people have memberships now, and in the next 5-10 years. What you need to worry about, is YOUR internet provider. They are the ones taking the brunt of everything you do, not the Microsoft Servers.
      I am pretty sure, if Sony had the money to invest in the server infrastructure that Microsoft has, they would of. But that company is selling ASSETS left-and-right. Also buddy, Killzone will look very dated in 2 years, maybe less. If you were happy with the launch title graphics then a PS3 would of been a better investment, not a PS4 at launch, just saying..
      The point of the Cloud is to push the Xbox One past its onboard capabilities. This will be something that will probably push this system past the PS4 in the future, with ZERO hardware revisions. To everyone- Trying to understand the Cloud is like trying to understand a foreign language, this does not mean it will not work. Just give the developers some time to figure this out, then sit back and enjoy the ride.

    • Axe99

      As far as I can see (and I’m happy to hear other arguments), my argument is only confusing if you assume that the $50/$60 a year people have been paying on XBL for half a decade is only now going to pay for servers for cloud computing – ie, that Microsoft fleeced its customers for half a decade, but is now willing to forego that profit to pay for cloud servers, which would be a brave assumption on a lot of levels ;). Don’t forget that Microsoft (like Sony) is a company run for the benefit of its investors. Its investors want to see a return on investment. Sure, they could afford to treat fans on XBL like charity cases, but I’d be surprised if that’s what they decide to do. Therefore, MS (and anyone in the provision of cloud services) needs to recoup their spend. That’s why Office is moving to a subscription model – because they’re running Office 365 from Azure (on a side note, I bet the Office 365 users were thrilled that the XBL launch broke their product for half a day or so – there’s a ‘benefit’ of the cloud we don’t hear about much ;)), and their business model simply won’t work on the old model. Sony’s approach to the cloud (they are actually investing in servers) is based on cloud streaming, where customers will pay for the games they stream, when they stream them, linking an ongoing revenue stream back to their server maintenance costs. At the moment, Microsoft’s plan for recouping its cloud processing costs haven’t been outlined, but they’re a business, and at the end of the day, the customers will have to pay for the services, and it won’t be through the existing XBL subscription.

      As for your comment about a PS3, KZ:SF is streets ahead of the best of last-gen (TLoU), and that’s with larger environments and more interactive elements (more enemy AI about at once). But I have a PS3, PS4 and PC, and had a 360 at one point (it got traded towards the PS4 once I’d had my fill of Halo 4), and am _very_ happy with Sony’s move into next-gen. I’d be happy with an XB1 as well, but am particularly fond of KZ’s MP and War Thunder.

    • Eric M.

      As far as Microsoft increasing their monthly/yearly fees for their network use, well I think we will have to wait and see. If there is a demand for it i.e. – More Subscriptions/Increased Console sales, then it would be a safe bet the fees will stay the same. Console sales are already looking more promising then last generation, if they can keep it going (which I believe MS is banking on) then we, as subscribers should be fine. However, at the same time, it can go south, but it is not looking that way at the moment, so it would be considered a worse case scenario. As far as games go, TitanFall will be the game changer for the consoles, even if “720p” LoL

    • brianc6234

      The cloud is a fraud. It won’t help at all. And any benefit it does have Sony will be able to do too anyway. It’s not like they can’t use cloud features. You don’t want games to depend on fast Internet connections though.

    • incendy

      Of course Sony could implement cloud computing. Cloud computing isn’t owned by a company it is a method of offloading computing resources that has been used for many years.

      This article is about what happens when the resources of memory are used up. Cloud computing is really the only answer to add additional power to these existing machines. It can’t be used in every situation but there are many times when it makes sense and will provide solutions when your console needs more resources.

  • Dakan45

    But you cant acess all 8 of them, just 5gb and thats not only for graphics.

    Anyway the ps3 with its low ram made games to be more of corridor shooters, since they couldnt fit big maps and instead they made smaller areas streaming in that ram and erasing areas behind them to save up resources.

    I expected big maps this generation big nonlinear maps, so i hope havok physics is wrong. I had enough scripted linear cinematic games.

  • spigzone

    It’s about future proofing. The Xbox will need the cloud to help it keep pace with the substantially greater potential of the PS4 with it’s 2x speed RAM, 1 1/2x GPU and it’s early stage exploitation HSA capability,

    The offline POTENTIAL of the PS4 over the Xbox One is formidable.

    Also, since the PS4 optimizations will be directly transferrable to Mantle, developers implementing Mantle will focus more on the PS4 than Xbox One. As DICE indicated in it’s Mantle presentation, stating flat out in a slide future Frostbite development and optimization will focus on the PS4 and Mantle.

    This makes even more sense knowing Mantle is built to be extensible to Intel, Nvidia, ARM, Apple, Android and Steam OS.

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