UPDATE: It appears the original blog post by Timothy Lottes has been taken down as of the time of this update (2/20/2013). Its unclear why the post has been taken down and I will try to reach out to Lottes for an explanation.
ORIGINAL STORY: Timothy Lottes is referred to as the father of FXAA in video games by many people. He knows a great deal about PC hardware and now he’s given his two cents on what he hopes to see in the next consoles from Sony and Microsoft. Lottes doesn’t have any insider information about this consoles, he discloses that right away. He’s basing these statements solely off of rumored specs.
While these rumors aren’t concrete we are seeing some particular things take shape. With so many sources reporting the same information every week it does seem like the new Xbox may feature a larger amount of DDR3 memory that has worse memory bandwidth than the smaller amount of GDDR5 memory rumored to be in the new Playstation. This could change, but all signs are pointing towards it.
Lottes seems fearful of Microsoft using a large amount of DDR3 memory because it might pose limits on memory bandwidth. On this issue he says:
“On this platform I’d be concerned with memory bandwidth. Only DDR3 for system/GPU memory pared with 32MB of “ESRAM” sounds troubling. 32MB of ESRAM is only really enough to do forward shading with MSAA using only 32-bits/pixel color with 2xMSAA at 1080p or 4xMSAA at 720p. Anything else to ESRAM would require tiling and resolves like on the Xbox360 (which would likely be a DMA copy on 720) or attempting to use the slow DDR3 as a render target.
I’d bet most titles attempting deferred shading will be stuck at 720p with only poor post process AA (like FXAA). If this GPU is pre-GCN with a serious performance gap to PS4, then this next Xbox will act like a boat anchor, dragging down the min-spec target for cross-platform next-generation games.”
Lottes seems to be less concerned about the rumored specs of the next Playstation. Most rumors have been pointing at the PS4 having less RAM than the next Xbox (4GB vs 8GB) but that may not matter if Sony uses GDDR5 memory instead of the type of memory Microsoft is rumored to be considering. It would produce better results with a better amount of memory bandwidth.
“If PS4 has a real-time OS, with a libGCM style low level access to the GPU, then the PS4 1st party games will be years ahead of the PC simply because it opens up what is possible on the GPU. Note this won’t happen right away on launch, but once developers tool up for the platform, this will be the case.
As a PC guy who knows hardware to the metal, I spend most of my days in frustration knowing damn well what I could do with the hardware, but what I cannot do because Microsoft and IHVs wont provide low-level GPU access in PC APIs. One simple example, drawcalls on PC have easily 10x to 100x the overhead of a console with a libGCM style API.”
Interesting comments altogether. I continue to be surprised by the amount of memory that it seems like we’ll be getting in next-gen consoles. I didn’t expect anything over 4GB, much less the 8GB supposedly in the new Xbox.
I would be fine with 2GB-4GB of memory in these consoles personally, though I’m sure many of you want more than that. We won’t have to wait much longer as it is very likely we’ll see these new consoles before E3, going by various reports. At the worst we have to wait until June 11th to see these devices in action.