Xbox One Unlikely To Hit 1080p With DX12, Says Witcher 3 Dev

By William Usher 5 months ago discussion comments
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The Xbox One has had a rough time of it lately, not only in the marketplace but also when it comes to game performance and spec capabilities. We've seen many big (and small) games fail to hit the holy grail of 1920 x 1080p or consistently maintain 60 fluent frames per second. Well, there have been many instances where rumors spurred that with the introduction of DirectX 12 we could see more games on the Xbox One hitting 1080p consistently. However, one developer doesn't buy into that belief.

GamingBolt managed to get in word with CD Projekt RED's lead engine programmer, Balazs Torok. He's currently hard at work on the upcoming The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, due for release next year.

GamingBolt asked about whether or not the implementation of DirectX 12 software tools would raise the Xbox One's capabilities for hitting native 1080p in games, as well as what sort of effect it could have on the video game development scene for PC and Xbox One. According to Torok...
“I think there is a lot of confusion around what and why DX12 will improve. Most games out there can’t go 1080p because the additional load on the shading units would be too much. For all these games DX12 is not going to change anything,”

“They might be able to push more triangles to the GPU but they are not going to be able to shade them, which defeats the purpose. To answer the first question, I think we will see a change in the way graphics programmers will think about their pipelines and this will result in much better systems hopefully.”

There's a lot to cover in that quote, but the most important thing to discuss first is that the reason he mentions that 1080p would be too much load on the “shading units” is because the GPU itself can't handle that kind of processing load. When people say the “PS4 is 50% more powerful than the Xbox One”, this is part of what they're talking about. The PS4 has more shader units on its GPU, thus allowing it to output more visuals per frame than the Xbox One. This is why games will more frequently hit 1080p on the PS4 (in addition to having a slightly more powerful CPU, according to the benchmarks).

Additionally, when a game on the Xbox One can hit 1080p, usually it's doing so while sacrificing something else that's being rendered to the screen. Simply put, every piece of hardware has a technical ceiling, and the Xbox One's GPU has a ceiling so low due to the older and lower grade architecture that it makes it difficult to hit 1080p consistently in games.

The added convoluted setup with the eSRAM doesn't really help matters either.

But the real meat of Torok's comment is in the ability for the Xbox One to only push more “triangles” with DirectX 12 instead of being able to do anything more with them. Essentially, what he's saying is that DirectX 12's pipeline might help the Xbox One render more polygons on the screen at a time (which could help with the display of geometry density) but him mentioning that they won't be dynamically shaded is a HUGE thing.

The main reason this is so big is that it basically opens up a feature for the Xbox One that isn't worth exploiting since pushing more triangles without shaders is the equivalent of drawing a picture without color. Sure it might have a lot of detail and a ton of character to it, but without color it'll always look incomplete.

The below image from About.com gives you a perfect illustration of what Torok is talking about.


The second image is how a 3D mesh would look without having any shaders applied to it. The likelihood is that the extra triangles might have some shading added, just not up to par to the rest of the game, so you might have an uneven or unpolished look, making it an uneventful “upgrade” if there ever was one.

Ultimately, DirectX 12 has been mentioned before as being better for CPU pipeline instructions as opposed to overhauling the way GPUs operate, but we'll find out when the toolkit finally becomes available, but the general consensus is that it's not going to help as much as some may hope.
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