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Rumours that Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox One game console is up to 50% less powerful than Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 4 when it comes to graphics performance have existed for months now and Microsoft has not denied then during the official announcement of the console. Nonetheless, it looks like the company has at least one secret weapon: 300 thousand servers that will run Xbox Live and will provide additional compute power to consoles.

The world’s largest software maker will use cloud computing to assist game consoles in latency-insensitive cases while leaving processing of latency-sensitive things to local graphics and general-purpose hardware. It is hard to estimate how much additional performance Microsoft can add using cloud technologies and whether it can actually conceal the performance difference between Xbox One and PlayStation 4 using the approach, but one thing can be said for sure: it will require support by game developers as well as constant and advanced Internet connection at the gamer’s home.

"Things that I would call latency-sensitive would be reactions to animations in a shooter, reactions to hits and shots in a racing game, reactions to collisions. Those things you need to have happen immediately and on frame and in sync with your controller. There are some things in a video game world, though, that do not necessarily need to be updated every frame or don't change that much in reaction to what's going on," said Matt Booty, general manager of Redmond game studios and platforms at Microsoft, in an interview with Ars Technica web-site.

Things like physics effects modeling, fluid dynamics, lighting and cloth or hair motion are examples of effects that require a lot of compute performance that could be handled in the cloud without adding any delays to the actual gameplay. Basically, everything that does not need to be updated every frame can be processed in the cloud.

“Without getting too into the weeds, think about a lighting technique like ambient occlusion that gives you all the cracks and crevices and shadows that happen not just from direct light. There are a number of calculations that have to be done up front, and as the camera moves the effect will change. So when you walk into a room, it might be that for the first second or two the fidelity of the lighting is done by the console, but then, as the cloud catches up with that, the data comes back down to the console and you have incredibly realistic lighting,” explained Mr. Booty.

According to Mr. Booty, for every Xbox One available in one’s living room, Microsoft “will have three of those devices in the cloud available”.

"Game developers have always had to wrestle with levels of detail... managing where and when you show details is part of the art of games. One of the exciting challenges going forward is a whole new set of techniques to manage what is going to be offloaded to the cloud and what’s going to come back,” said the head of Redmond game studios and platforms.

As it appears, game developers now will not only have to be able to offload certain computations to the cloud, but keep a rendering path that can be performed only locally for the case of occasional break-down of an Internet connection. That render-path will naturally provide considerably lower image quality but will let gamers to continue playing without any web connection.

"If there’s a fast connection and if the cloud is available and if the scene allows it, you’re obviously going to capitalize on that. In the event of a drop out—and we all know that Internet can occasionally drop out, and I do say occasionally because these days it seems we depend on Internet as much as we depend on electricity – the game is going to have to intelligently handle that. […] It is a new technology and a new frontier for game design, and we’re going to see that evolve the way we’ve seen other technology evolve," concluded Mr. Booty.

Microsoft Xbox One is based on AMD Fusion custom-designed system-on-chip with eight x86 low-power/low-cost Jaguar cores, AMD Radeon HD graphics with GCN architecture (with 32MB ESRAM/EDRAM buffer) as well as 8GB of DDR3 system memory. The console features 500GB hard disk drive, Blu-ray disc drive, 802.11n Wi-Fi connectivity,  output of video with up to 4K resolution (3840*2160) using HDMI 1.4 as well as 7.1-channel audio. The new Xbox One comes with completely redesigned Kinect sensor that will feature 1920*1080 RGB camera, improved infrared sensor and enhanced voice controls. The console sports a number of functions, e.g. TV-cable pass-through that will seamlessly integrate it into the living room

Microsoft Xbox One is expected to hit the market in October, 2013. Pricing is not known, but it is not expected to be affordable.

Tags: Microsoft, Xbox One, Xbox, AMD, Jaguar, Radeon, ATI, GCN

Discussion

Comments currently: 13
Discussion started: 05/28/13 10:01:33 AM
Latest comment: 05/29/13 08:24:03 AM
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1. 
It seems very good idea till we don't think deeper.
Question is how fast internet connection is required for future 1080P@60FPS AAA class games based on Next-Gen GAMING-Engines-answer is atleast 10 mbps of very good quality internet, how many countries have this ? even china and india’s (2nd and 3rd largest economies ) average internet speed is around 1-1.5 Mbps with considerable connection drops , than how that cloud gaming will work, I think cloud gaming is made for US only.

In case of Microsoft Xbox One it is just rumor that it may use cloud gaming technology, remember the SONY PS4 launch event in which SONY already confirmed that PS4 will support cloud gaming via Sony’s own GaiKai cloud gaming technique.
Microsoft I really appreciate ur effort but two thing I want to say is
1 – Right action in Wrong direction.
2- PS4 already won the race.
the best thing microsoft should do, is just increase Xbox one memory to 10 gb, yes u think it's weird actually it is the secret, memory is the biggest secret of consoles more memory=better console

In US and some developed countries I think xbox one will shine more than PS4 but in rest of world surely PS4.
So Dear friends be prepared to remember PS2 days “AGAIN”….how many of u agreed with me
6 0 [Posted by: mudi1  | Date: 05/28/13 10:01:33 AM]
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China is rolling out a national broadband network to connect 100 million people to 100Mbps by 2015 and so is most of Asia. In 5 years time, China will eclipse USA for the world superpower crown. It's not so backwards and will become more technologically advanced. But it will never make chips as good as AMD
2 0 [Posted by: linuxlowdown  | Date: 05/29/13 05:46:53 AM]
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2. 
So basicly you have to always be online to get better gaming graphics then the hardware in which the xbox one comes with yet they are charging people 600 dollars for the console ontop of an xbox live subscription. Not to mention you will need a really good high speed connection to get that quality in a game. which equals money money and more money..
3 0 [Posted by: SteelCity1981  | Date: 05/28/13 11:13:15 AM]
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3. 
Big mistake. Not only is mixing locally and remotely executed interdependent computations (as they always will be in a game engine) a recipe for disaster, this also assumes that everyone in the target audience for the Xbox One has a high-bandwidth, low-ping and reliable internet connection, which is probably still far from the actual case. This is exactly the kind of potential marketing problem that creates a lot of bad will by word of mouth.
2 0 [Posted by: lol123  | Date: 05/28/13 11:57:45 AM]
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4. 
MS will make more money than Sony this time around as well, I can understand why Sony chose the expensive GDDR5 because the CPU/GPU architecture is unified just like the Xbox 360 was. ESRAM and cloud should alleviate potential bandwidth issues on the Xbox One not that bandwidth is a problem to begin with. These console are packing mid-end GPU's so bandwidth advantages are not really going to stick out especially at 1080p
0 0 [Posted by: redeemer  | Date: 05/28/13 03:11:29 PM]
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mid end gpu's? GDDR3 on the xbox one is mid end? lol more like low end now.

No they won't not for the price they are asking for 600 dollars out the gate with no budget packages available for basicly a multimedia console which is going to backfire on MS watch. reason being is because the market is already heavily saturated with multimedia devices. The market already havs camera's on TV's for Skype. They already have voice activated navigation, samsungs new series of TV's is an example of that. Blu ray players are really affordable that you can pick up from walmart for less then 70 dollars now that even come with smart capabilities built in and are even wireless and almost every modern TV has smart TV capabilities built right in. Not to mention DVR's are as common in a house as microwaves now. So there is nothing MS brings new to the table in multimedia with the xbox one.
1 0 [Posted by: SteelCity1981  | Date: 05/28/13 03:53:49 PM]
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And the difference between these devices will be content. Does Microsoft have the content to deliver over its rivals? I'm not so sure. But what I'm sure of is that Sony does have its own content in Sony-Universal/ Sony-BMG. It also has the more powerful console. Sony will be the one and only.
1 0 [Posted by: linuxlowdown  | Date: 05/29/13 05:56:34 AM]
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5. 
Sounds like a recipe for disaster. Can't wait to see youtube videos showing shadows being rubber-banded behind your character because they're being rendered "in the cloud".
2 0 [Posted by: AnonymousGuy  | Date: 05/28/13 07:07:46 PM]
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6. 
I think they summed it up well when they wrote this line....."Pricing is not known, but it is not expected to be affordable".
As has been mentioned previously, there is the cost of the console, the internet connection, games etc
2 0 [Posted by: caring1  | Date: 05/28/13 09:34:31 PM]
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7. 
I think this cloud business is partly in response to the negative backlash due to lower specs compared to the PS4.........in other words its mostly marketing BS, surprise surprise
1 0 [Posted by: alpha0ne  | Date: 05/28/13 10:31:57 PM]
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8. 
If you think Mark`s story is surprising,, last munth my boyfriend recieved a check for $8817 sitting there 10 hours a week in their apartment and they're friend's sister-in-law`s neighbour has done this for 6 months and got a cheque for more than $8817 parttime on there pc. applie the information from this address Bow6.com
0 1 [Posted by: PatriciaBau05  | Date: 05/29/13 12:19:56 AM]
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just shut the fuck up no one cares about your spam bs, you can't even spell month right dumbass.
1 0 [Posted by: SteelCity1981  | Date: 05/29/13 03:35:41 AM]
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9. 
Wow.. so imagine someone with a limited Internet quota of between 60-125Gb per month (most of us) having all these Cloud Computations going on in the background after hours/days/weeks of use let alone all the other bandwidth BS this XShiet is gonna suck down. Are all the ISPs across the planet gonna step up and have better packages for their customers to allow for unlimited quota? How likely is this? Riigghhttt...

ISPs across the globe need to move ahead as with 4K content approaching fast as new LEDs are now being sold with UltraHD *THEN* knowing 8K has started testing in Europe (which is a 4-6 year timeframe for deployment) and understanding the incredible amount of bandwidth all this will need in the future.. are ISPs now having to step up their game?
0 0 [Posted by: thudo  | Date: 05/29/13 08:24:03 AM]
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