Xbox Series X’s Sampler Feedback Streaming Is “An Absolute Game-Changer,” Says Developer

Team Blur Games’ design lead Gavin Stevens explains how the Xbox Series X’s Sampler Feedback Streaming will allow it to keep up with the PS5’s SSD.

Posted By | On 19th, Jul. 2020 Under News

xbox series x

Microsoft and Sony are both aiming for some very impressive feats with their upcoming consoles, but they’re both going about it in different ways. While Sony are going all-in on the PS5’s impressive SSD, Microsoft have emphasized the Xbox Series X’s Velocity Architecture quite a bit, even having mentioned just recently that it will “fundamentally rethink how a developer can take advantage of the hardware provided by the Xbox Series X.”

One key part of the Velocity Architecture puzzle is Sampler Feedback Streaming, something that is seemingly going to be central to the Xbox Series X’s I/O optimization. There’s a lot to it, but in plain and simple terms, Sampler Feedback Streaming allows the console to only load in textures and assets that are only needed in a game at that moment rather than having significantly more of them loaded in in the background just in case they’re needed, which means a lot of space and memory are freed up for the CPU to focus on other things. But while this all sounds impressive on paper, how impactful is it actually going to be?

Well, according to Gavin Stevens – co-founder and design lead of indie studio Team Blur Games – is surely excited about it. Taking recently to Twitter, Gavin explained what exactly Sampler Feedback Streaming is, ow developers are going to use it, how much of a difference it is going to make, and how it’s going to help the Xbox Series X level the playing field with the PS5’s SSD.

Stevens started out by explaining in some detail why exactly streaming in of assets and textures is so memory intensive. There’s a lot of nitty-gritties that he goes into, but here’s the gist- in-game assets are made up of multiple textures, and put together, these textures take up a lot of space in the memory. Compression makes textures smaller in size, but then you get to things like mips (lower resolution versions of the same asset), which only increase in quantity as the textures go higher in resolution (which, of course, they will as consoles become capable of producing better visuals). Effectively, what this means is that loading in heavy amounts of textures become unavoidable.

This, Stevens, explains, is where Sampler Feedback Streaming comes in. As Stevens explains, Sampler Feedback Streaming only loads in textures and mips that are required, while ignoring everything else, which effectively means that developers will be able to allow in high quality textures, but in smaller quantities based on requirement, and at much faster speeds.

Stevens adds that the PS5’s SSD is undoubtedly faster than the Xbox Series X’s, but states that while Sony focused entirely on their SSD, Microsoft have divvied their attention across several solution, such as Sampler Feedback Streaming, which in particular, in Stevens’ words, “levels the playing field somewhat.”

“However, there is more than one way to skin a cat, and SFS is an absolute game changer in keeping up with the (brilliant) PS5 drive,” Steven writes.

You can read Steven’s entire Twitter thread for a much more detailed breakdown below.

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