We’re on the road to the next generation of consoles at the end of this year still. Even with the current COVID-19 pandemic, it seems both Microsoft and Sony are still aiming to hit with their systems by this Holiday season. With next generation systems there’s always the promise of new and exciting technology (though those are largely just bullet points for fanboys to war about online in our world), and developers have been weighing in with their thoughts.
In an interview with Windows Central, Studio Technical Director at The Coalition Mike Rayner took part in multiple interviews about the system. He commented on the console’s Sampler Feedback Streaming, a new feature in the console’s architect. He says that it will help load times 4 times without any code change, and greatly increase the visual detail of worlds.
“We have come to expect generational leaps in CPU, GPU, and memory performance with each generation. Xbox Series X more than delivers against these expectations. As a game developer, one of the most exciting improvements that far exceeds expectations is the massive I/O improvements on Xbox Series X. In the current generation, as the fidelity and size of our worlds increased, we have seen download times and install sizes grow and increasing runtime I/O demands, which have made it challenging to maintain load-times expectations and meet world streaming demands without detail loss. The Xbox Series X has been holistically designed to directly address this challenge.
“With the Xbox Series X, out of the gate, we reduced our load-times by more than 4x without any code changes. With the new DirectStorage APIs and new hardware decompression, we can further improve I/O performance and reduce CPU overhead, both of which are essential to achieve fast loading. As we look to the future, the Xbox Series X’s Sampler Feedback for Streaming (SFS) is a game-changer for how we think about world streaming and visual level of detail. We will be exploring how we can use it in future titles to both increase the texture detail in our game beyond what we can fit into memory, as well as reduce load times further by increasing on-demand loading to just before we need it, instead of pre-loading everything up-front as we would use a more traditional ‘level loading’ approach.”
Obviously, Mr. Rayner is a developer under the Microsoft umbrella, so I imagine that will be enough for console warriors to dismiss anything said here, but it does sound like exciting tech. Of course, what the real life implication of all this means will be interesting to see once the systems are actually here.