Xbox One cloud is 'one area console has advantage over PS4', says Avalanche tech lead

Xbox One's cloud-side computing is one area that gives Microsoft's console an advantage over PlayStation 4, Avalanche Studios' chief technology officer Linus Blomberg has told, despite PS4 featuring more impressive 'raw power'.

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2507d ago Replies(23)
DeadlyFire2507d ago

Sony has Gaikai. Cloud computing and cloud rendering just a short step away if they wanted to unleash it they could just as well.

Statix2506d ago (Edited 2506d ago )

The current-gen PS3 and 360 can offload physics and AI calculations to cloud servers. There is absolutely nothing unique to the Xbox One hardware--no built-in chip or component--that enables it to handle these operations anymore efficiently than any PC or game console that is already currently available. Cloud computation is not a hardware issue, it's an internet latency and bandwidth issue.

The fact that even Avalanche says "Sony may implement something similar for the PS4 in the future" should tell you that there is absolutely nothing special about the Xbox One hardware that makes it more suited for cloud-assisted computing than the PS4. This is all just smoke-and-mirrors marketing by Microsoft to try and divert attention from the fact that the Xbox One specifications are weaker than the PS4's.

Also keep in mind that even Microsoft admits cloud-assistance won't be able to augment graphics, or other latency-critical aspects of games. So even if a few games are able to utilize cloud-assisted computing for things like physics and AI, it's not going to make an Xbox One game with crappy graphics look any better on a visual/rendering basis.

ItsMeAgain2506d ago

Also, people fail to realize that this is just MS's attempt and answer against Sony's Gaikai. MS found out about Sony's Gaikai and probably said that they should do something about it which resulted in coming up with the idea of the cloud.

extermin8or2506d ago

and if your web lags.... lag in single player... just what I always wanted -_- you know it wasn't bad enough that many devs can't even get their games to cope with fluctuations during multiplayer.. Hell Dark Souls sometimes lags a tiny little bit if your web messes up and that's just connected to the web incase someone invades/for messages/coop symbols/ghosts of other players.

Jockamo2506d ago (Edited 2506d ago )

Holy shit going from neogaf to N4G is like going from a university to a preschool. Gaikai's software is not built for offloading computations. The software is only used to stream complete games that run on a faraway computer. Much like we stream movies nowadays. Asking Gaikai to do what Azure does is the EXACT same thing as asking Netflix to do what Azure does. It just wasn't built for that. Azure was designed from the ground up for offloaded computations that don't affect real time needs. In gaming it will affect lighting, AI, multiplayer stats (ala Halo 4), terrain, and other non-realtime processes. It has also already been used by companies around the world since 2010.

Statix2506d ago (Edited 2506d ago )

The general concept has been used way before then.

Back when I played Quake in 1997, I would download updated map data, modified/enhanced maps, mods, and other "non-realtime" assets on-the-fly, from remote servers (a.k.a., "the cloud"). Since we, as well as Microsoft, are using such a loose and vague definition of "cloud computing," I'd say the way games like Quake or Counter-Strike send you updated data from the servers would count as a form of "cloud-assisted computing."

To reiterate, any PC, and even the current-generation consoles like PS3 or 360, can do cloud-assisted computing. It's not a hardware-constrained technique, it's a software-constrained (and internet-constrained) technique. The bandwidth and latency of internet pipelines are so limited and slow compared to the northbridge interconnects on a motherboard, that they essentially preclude any notion of meaningful gains in graphical, physics, or AI fidelity... even if Microsoft's claims of "3 cloud Xboxes for every 1 at home" are true.


Insofar as whether Gaikai technology would be suitable for cloud-assisted computing is a moot point; Sony doesn't even need to use Gaikai software to do cloud computing in their games. The developers themselves can implement their own cloud-assisted computation methods directly into their game code. To say that "only Xbox One can do cloud-based computing" is like saying "only Xbox One can do VoIP because Microsoft owns Skype."

"In gaming it will affect lighting, AI, multiplayer stats (ala Halo 4), terrain, and other non-realtime processes."

AI and lighting are realtime processes, so I don't think you completely comprehend what you're talking about.

Jockamo2506d ago

By non-realtime processes, I was referring to static lighting, which is prebaked and background NPC AI which, according to the very article you referenced, can also be preloaded.

"Another known possibility for cloud computing is AI, not for direct interactions such as determining if an NPC should duck or shoot, but for background AI in living worlds like Grand Theft Auto and Elder Scrolls. The complexity of these games has always been limited to the console's resources, and AI has often been very limited to simple behaviour routines. Cloud computing could run world simulation and just update the player's local world over time, allowing the world to live and respond to player actions. Such complex game worlds could be a significant advance, but they are also constrained to a limited set of game types. Games like Xbox 360's flagships Gears of War and Forza Motorsport have little need for smart NPC AI of this kind."

"Lighting has been named as a possibility for cloud processing by Microsoft. Lighting has a history of pre-calculation, creating fixed data that is stored on disc and loaded into the game. Early use of this concept was "pre-baked" lightmaps, effectively creating textures with the lighting fixed in placed, which could look fairly realistic but was static and only worked with non-interactive environments. Advances like pre-computed radiance transfer (PRT) have made pre-calculated lighting more dynamic, and the current state-of-the-art is Unreal Engine's Lightmass featured in the next-gen Unreal Engine 4. This pre-computes light volumes instead of the real-time calculations of Epic's former SVOGI technology which was deemed too computationally expensive. Although the cloud could not run SVOGI type dynamic lighting due to latency and bandwidth limits, it does offer the possibility of 'pre-calculating' lighting data for dynamic scenes."

I may not be a programmer, but I know how to read. Thanks for the source, I recommend you read it too! :)

Statix2506d ago (Edited 2506d ago )


I did read it. Basically, to sum up the article for you since you don't seem to quite grasp its basic conclusions, what Digital Foundry is saying is that one "possible" candidate for cloud-computing assistance is that you can download updated map data from the internet, such as pre-baked lightmaps (aka, static or "fake" lighting) that corresponds to a different time of day--for example, the sun shines brighter and casts light at a different angle. Once again, not terribly dissimilar to the way online FPS games since 1997 (Quake, Unreal, Counter-Strike, etc.) have allowed players to download updated audio, maps, models, and mods from the server.

Still, even though downloading pre-baked lightmaps from Microsoft's cloud servers is technically a possibility, I can't fathom why a game would even need to do so. Three Xbox One's would not render a lighting pass much faster than your local machine would... at most, the difference in rendering time would be a couple of seconds. Thus, why even offload lighting calculations to the cloud? Why not just do it on you local Xbox One console, even if the lighting update would be delayed very slightly? It just doesn't make sense, as it would greatly increase the complexity of the code, and would serve to make the game unnecessarily reliant on online connectivity (always-online). If the servers for the such a game in question were to go down in the future, or if Microsoft's cloud servers go down for servicing, or if your internet is suffering slowdown or service interruptions, then all these lighting features would be rendered completely useless. Why not just calculate these pre-baked lightmaps on your local Xbox One machine (albeit with a little more delay for the lighting to update) and completely avoid all these aforementioned hassles?

In the end, until Microsoft proves--with strong, concrete tech demonstrations or actual implementations in game code--that its proffered partial-cloud computing concept is a viable alternative to traditional local processing, I'll continue to view their claims as snake oil, a tactic to obfuscate the fact that the Xbox One is significantly less powerful than the hardware inside the PS4.

If Microsoft does somehow miraculously pull off its dubious cloud concepts in meaningful ways, then that would be great. Then, Sony and other game companies can adopt some of the proposed ideas into their own games, and then everyone wins, with better AI, more complex physics, and more dynamic worlds for all to enjoy. But none of these things are likely to happen.

DeadlyFire2506d ago

Azure has absolutly nothing to do with gaming or calculations. There is a reason Microsoft signed a deal with Agawi. I know you lack knowledge of them, but they are a cloud gaming platform. The platform Agawi and Microsoft are building will not be called Azure. It will not differ much from Gaikai. Calculations on the cloud while the game is running will hinder latency unless its Singleplayer only. It all runs through the same wire in your house. Bandwidth for that just isnt here yet.

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MWH2507d ago (Edited 2507d ago )

I only care about the game and the freedom to play them.

Avalanche2507d ago

the XBOne cloud computing is gonna be nuts if they actually know how to use it. im sure they are gonna charge an arm and a leg to upgrade your system for better graphics, but its crazy that the console can do it.

Cloud Computing can only help the XBOne. its a very sick positive in the MS column. just doubt that the developers are gonna use it since they like to do the bare minimum to make money.