Mass Effect Andromeda PS4 Pro – Dev Explains Benefits of Checkerboard Rendering, 30% Improvement Due To FP16

Frostbite developer highlights the benefits of checkerboard rendering on the PS4 Pro.

Posted By | On 14th, Mar. 2017 Under News | Follow This Author @Pramath1605

Mass Effect Andromeda is just under a week away from release and DICE, the developers of the Frostbite engine have revealed some interesting new information about the PS4 Pro version. As we have noted before, developers tend to resort to custom rendering techniques such as the checkerboard solution to display a higher resolution than what is allowed by the PS4 Pro’s hardware capabilities.

The PS4 Pro version of Mass Effect Andromeda will be using checkerboard rendering technique to achieve 1800p resolution while playing on a 4K TV. During GDC last week, Frostbite’s Graham Wihlidal revealed the differences between the game rendering in native 1800p vs 1800p checkerboard. As you can see below, the developers were able to save a lot of rendering budget and the image quality difference between 1800p native and 1800p checkerboard is very little.

Even milliseconds matter in games development and as the numbers below indicate, the developers saved a lot of the rendering budget on shadows, ambient occlusion, lighting and other graphical parameters. Lastly, the developer also revealed how PS4 Pro’s support for FP16 GCN instructions brings about 30% improvement in performance while rendering the game in checkerboard mode.

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  • C. Hoffer

    Interesting and even better than I expected. 🙂
    Now where are the people that were arguing with me how they thought there was no use for FP16 code and even if it was used they thought it would impact visuals too much?

    Better yet, where are the ones that kept claiming FP16 didn’t exist until AMD brings out the GPU for the elite consumer/GPU user and that Sony (or M$) would never be able to ask AMD to ‘add’ extra functionality into the GPU’s they are using mid-generation.

    • Luke Skywalker

      I think you’re over exaggerating there. the impression that was going on with fp16 was that it gives double the performance and basically a chanting of the 8.4tf that mark cerny exaggerating said which was basically nonsense. people said fp16 would offer some performance but it will not be double overall.
      the discussions have been that there are some things that could benefit, but not all things. so hold that patting of your own back because there has been no vindication for you. in the chart above you can see the “half res” label, there are benefits but keep your nickers on.

      i’m not sure who would say fp16 didn’t exist before this because it was available on NVidia’s FX back in the day. Also console manufacturers have been adding extra functionality from GPU makers starting with OG Xbox and then solidified by Microsoft Xbox 360.

    • C. Hoffer

      My point was the facts and logical use.
      – The Sony/AMD Pro GPU can do FP16 instructions.
      – It does 2 FP16 instructions in the same time it can perform 1 FP32.
      – It is DOUBLE the processing power IF you used FP16 to build the entire game engine. <- Does not mean this will ever happen.

      Some people in this forum adamantly refused to believe:
      – the Pro GPU could even do 2 FP16 instructions per clock.
      – that developers would ever use FP16 instructions
      – that FP16 instructions would result in degraded visuals
      – that FP16 instructions didn't exist in our '32bit/64bit' world

      While at the same time those some of those 'people' were 100% insistent that FP16 instructions only affect 'image' resolution.

      With Zero Dawn here we have what I would call a mid tier developer that reworked their game engine (because that is where everything happens-good & bad) to make it better. When the PRO instruction set was added to the dev kit late in their game development they tweaked parts of the game engine and were able to see a 30% reduction in game overhead while at the same time admitting that if they upgraded those sections they would see even faster development times, require less tweaks, and result in an even better end product.
      With Mass Effect & the Frostbite engine, they have actually started reworking it as well to take advantage of new GPU powers at higher resolutions.

      I call this an absolute WIN for the PRO in the short term..everyone in the long term.

      And for the record…this isn't about Sony or M$. Its about the clueless people in this forum that fail to realize every performance gain is a positive!

    • DEVILTAZ35 .

      They say all this yet the Pro has severe framerate issues whilst exploring planets on ME Andromeda. I just picked it up last night and it has alot of stuttering. So perhaps they should have looked at ways of making the game run smoothly rather than bragging about how an instruction set makes something run better. Proof is in the pudding not the text.

    • Stephen Jones

      To be fair, there were plenty of idiots who said 16 bit instructions are useless for games. Those are the people he was referring to.

    • DEVILTAZ35 .

      i didn’t know Pro supported it actually. This is excellent news.

    • Psionicinversion

      i think youll be crying when scorpio comes out and has this uplift in performance. your favourite piece of plastic will be become worse!

    • C. Hoffer

      Why would I be crying? I’m a M$ fan…I just am very honest with where their systems/operating system and ‘dashboard’ stands.

      I said the original Xbox One was absolutely oversized system with an underpowered GPU; especially when compared to the original PS4.
      The One S is is a decent sized system, with ok features but still very weak in GPU and terrible dashboard. <-I broke down and have one to play exclusives and old 360 games I never got to.

      I have an original PS4, the PS4 Pro (my main) and they are way nicer to use, move around and simple are better buys in multiple ways.

      I will still throw that One S at the local EB Games store clerk when Scorpio comes out. Unless M$ really fubars things, the One XS (my term for Scorpio) will be my main system.

      All total – my $ investment in consoles will still be far less than if I had bought a PC.
      Matter of actual Fact – 1 Video Card would cost me more money than my Pro and original PS4 COMBINED and in this time frame (last 3 1/2 years) I would have had to upgrade my video card at least once if not twice.

    • DEVILTAZ35 .

      I’ll hold off on the pro until Microsoft can prove the games will be worth the effort though . There just aren’t many exclusives where lately Sony is just hitting it out of the park on exclusives.

  • Eddie Battikha

    I’m very impressed with my PS4 Pro running on my LGB6.

    • C. Hoffer

      As am I when I’ve paired my Pro to my Samsung KS8500. Impressive visuals.

    • DEVILTAZ35 .

      nice , i am personally more interested in these Quantum dot tv’s that are just ultra bright. though – over 2000 nits is just insane . I don’t find OLED all that good for daytime.

  • HAppY_KrAToS

    4.2Tflops + checkerboard rendering + FP16 (2 instructions at once):

    That easily represents between 6 and 8 Tflops of graphic power.

    When the scorpio is out, some xbox fans will start bragging about ‘ohhh, you only have 2Tflops, the scorpio, it has 6 freaking amazing tflops’

    yeah, really ?

    and when the scorpio is finally out, despite the ‘infinite’ power, devs will be forced to make huge compromises:

    4k ? Yeah… but…
    -lots of texture compression
    – weak antialiasing
    – less polygons
    -etc etc

    …just to try to reach those 4k60fps…

    will the graphics look 50%… or even 20% better than on ps4 pro ?
    for sure, the answer is NO

    By the end of 2017, 6tflops will look like a joke, instead of looking like a super advanced tech and feature.


      Two instructions at once but first party games Horizons Zero Dawn couldn’t hit native 4K

    • Stephen Jones

      Do you really expect a console apu to do native 4k? It takes a $600, 220w gpu to do that. Lol

    • C. Hoffer

      Pfft….I’m in Canada. Those GPU are $1,000 here.
      Consoles…way frikken cheaper for 10x easier upkeep.

    • Timz

      Forza Motorsport 7 X1X edition says hi.

    • Psionicinversion

      between 6+8 TFLOPs yup more lies. In this case they used the FP16 to speed up the checkboard rendering process so its not an addition fool!!

    • Luke Skywalker

      I don’t think you have a clue what you’re talking about

    • BlueDiamond87

      Unless you have a reason to believe he’s wrong (you’re a dev or you watch a lot of videos breaking down tech and benchmarks), he’s actually pretty in the right direction. All that power is going towards calculating pixels instead of complex lighting or geometry. Non graphical GPU task might benefit greatly from raw TFLOP increase. Also Scorpio will have 16fp boost.

    • Luke Skywalker

      he’s actually not in the right, and common sense can tell anyone that
      great memory bandwidth will deal with texture streaming
      he has no idea of the capabilities when it comes to antialiasing and how did he come up with “less polygon?….less polygon compared to what?

      “all the power is going towards calculating pixels instead of complex lighting or geometry”…, explain

    • AlphaEdge

      > “common sense can tell anyone that”

      No, it’s a technical discussion, so it has nothing to do with common sense.

    • Spike

      Why would you need to waste resources on AA at 4k?

    • DEVILTAZ35 .

      it depends, you can still see some jaggies in 4k without some form of AA. Especially finely detailed objects like telephone wires etc.

    • The One Who Shall Not Be Named

      nothing you said is true, thats like calling an overclocked RX 480 graphics card a joke.

      4.2 Tflops is just 4.2 tflops, FP 16 changes nothing in that regard

      FP16 is not 2 instructions at once, its just a less complex instruction VS the standard FP32

      Hence why FP16 is known as Half Precision and FP32 is known as Single precision and FP64 is known as double precision.

      will te developer have to make compromises for scopio? yes, but less so thatn the PS4 Pro and the 2013 consoles, a console is a compromise, if you want no compromises you play on PC. there will always be some compromises with consoles with consoles.

      6Tflop will not look like a joke by the end of 2017, it will be Mainstream Gaming PC levels of performance, nothing special but by far the most advanced console, thats just facts.

    • DEVILTAZ35 .

      My 980ti is only at a similar level and only 2 years old. It is amazing Consoles are already reaching this level of performance hey?

    • AlphaEdge

      > “FP16 is not 2 instructions at once, its just a less complex instruction VS the standard FP32”

      No, but it is twice as many calculations per second, cause if it wasn’t, there were no point to it at all.

      PC has compromises. Can I play every game at 8K resolution at 120 fps? No, so compromises!

    • The One Who Shall Not Be Named

      an 8K 120Hz display would need to exist on the consumer market first

    • Reclaimer13

      Doesn’t that mean that the Scorpio will be able to achieve much higher than 6tflops using the same tech? 10-12 tflops of graphical power? If 6 tflops will look like a joke by the end of 2017 what will 4.2 tflops look like?

    • DEVILTAZ35 .

      I have a pro as well but you forget one important thing. It is highly like the Scorpio will be able to do checkerboard rendering with a 60 fps target in mind which is going to make a world of difference.

    • tipoo2

      FP16 isn’t a magic performance doubler. This very article shows 20-30% gains only on parts of rendering that can use it, and not all parts can.


    Checkerboard rendering will never be the same as native 4K that’s it

    The reason why devs have to use checkerboard rendering to achieve a 1800p resolution is because the PS4 PRO is to weak to achieve 1800p natively on it’s own so devs have to turn to tricks like checkerboard rendering to achieve a native resolutions it’s that simple
    The PS4 PRO couldn’t achieve a native 4K resolution on it’s own first party game Horizons Zero Dawn lol

    • Jim Peterson

      Stupid comment. Horizon is one of the best looking games ever made, do you have any idea what kind of power would be required to run something that looks like that in native 4K? I have a GTX1080 and even it only runs a handful of new games well in 4K, and none of them have anywhere near the graphics of Horizon.

    • Hiyperion

      HZD is indeed visually good, but “anywhere near the graphics of Horizon” is quite the exaggeration.

    • C. Hoffer

      Cool! You’ve named the only game that could actually almost compete with Horizon….. Lets all run out and dump $2500 bucks to get that PC that needs constant massaging and updating instead of buying a $500 product that I don’t need to massage every month to keep it running.

      Btw, I say almost because I’d like to see you run Witcher on an AMD 460 (roughly Pro) card at Ultra 4k.

    • The One Who Shall Not Be Named

      * RX 470, thats the closest AMD has on the desktop to the PS4 Pro

    • Rupz007

      FYI Horizon Zero Dawn developers didn’t know about the PS4 Pro’s existence when first making the game, so what they have achieved with 2160p (Checker Board) is very impressive.

      It was noted in the article below that, had the game been designed from ground up for the PS4 Pro, they would have done things differently (i.e more enhancements with PS4 Pro’s architecture)

      “ ”

      The PS4 Pro is incredible for cost/performance. XBone Scorpio is expected to be more expensive when it gets released and a year longer before PS4 Pro’s release. By which time we should see more true first party games taking full advantage of the PS4 Pro hardware.

      Also, any game made for the PS4 Pro will always need to be available for the PS4 so the PS4 Pro will never really get utilised to the full extent. Very much like what Scorpio will have when released.

    • Psionicinversion

      shoulda woulda coulda

    • C. Hoffer

      Why would you say that? He brought up good and valid points.

      Besides, the development process used for making games on
      the Pro, including any engine enhancements, WILL be cross transferable to the One XS (still my term-maybe I should have trademarked it…lol).

      The only issues devs will have with the new engines is to create more elaborate translation tech to scale things down to accommodate the poorly designed GPU on the One/OneS. :/

    • Mark


    • DEVILTAZ35 .

      Day’s gone looks to be truly incredible so far.

    • C. Hoffer

      And what do you think of the One/One S that can’t even run at 1080p-30fps and have to scale res down to as low as 720p?

  • Mr Xrat

    Xgimps are going to be super mad.

    Quick! Tell us how you’ll be streaming Knack on your PC again!

    • The One Who Shall Not Be Named

      what on earth are you talking about?

    • Reclaimer13

      The playskoolers are damage controlling the fact that all ps4 exclusives are going to pc via ps now.

  • R.K

    This game isn’t even that graphically impressive, just show’s Bioware’s lack of talent with Frostbite. This could easily have been 2160p checker board on the Pro. BF1 runs at the same resolution with far more scale and things going on

    • Psionicinversion

      BF1 is far easier to run than this game. Its very very light weight. You dont know what types of effects ME A has in it.

    • DEVILTAZ35 .

      ACtually after playing it last night on the Pro not all that many effects at all. The particle effects are pretty subdued actually. Fire is rendered very poorly and even when you kill a creature it is pretty weak . Probably more realistic but it doesn’t make it satisfying to win a battle other than you can move on.

    • Psionicinversion

      Well the pro doesn’t run at max settings anyway. But yeah generally BF is better looking with stuff but it’s also not open world. It’s probably just poorer optimisation of assets, game code, lods whatever it may be

    • DEVILTAZ35 .

      Yeah probably , i am not sure if this glitch is also on the PC but when you go back to an area they say the same things even after you have completed that section. Such as ”We’re under attack” yet nothing is there and even after you scan bodies if you drive back there it still says there is a body there you should scan. Pretty poor as no way they playtested this much.

    • Psionicinversion

      Yeah I noticed that on Eos when you kill that big massive fiend thing with a yellow health bar at one of the old research stations when I drove back through it later, was looking for it for ages as I couldn’t remember where I killed it and then gave up.

      It was just in a good enough state most likely. Kick it out the door if we can be bothered fix it later we will

    • DEVILTAZ35 .

      True , i really think this could have done with at least another month in the oven.

    • C. Hoffer

      Psionicinversion is right on this. You don’t really know what is going on in the background in BF1 vs ME-A. I expect there to be very little happening behind the scenes in BF1. I expect a lot more from ME.
      Then again that doesn’t mean I’m right…just that that would be more ‘logical’ from our perspective.

      And its not just Bioware, the game engine is used by the entire company. How they update it and rework the engine is not clear. Typically head office is the one that dictates how much is reworked or when large pieces will be added – this is influenced by the end developer/studio. Still, its more of an ask and then wait. Other than that it’s small scale development/changes done at the studio level and only in the branch of the engine.

  • Masato Indou

    so… many… teraflops… O_O


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