MS Engineer: to render pixel 1080i/p has 55pct less time than 720p

From Bruce Dawson (Microsoft senior software design engineer) on Andre Vrignaud's Blog (Microsoft's Director of Technical Strategy for Xbox Live):

Many developers, gamers, and journalists are confused by 1080p. They think that 1080p is somehow more challenging for game developers than 1080i, and they forget that 1080 (i or p) requires significant tradeoffs compared to 720p. Some facts to remember:
* 2.25x: that's how many more pixels there are in 1920x1080 compared to 1280x720
* 55.5%: that's how much less time you have to spend on each pixel when rendering 1920x1080 compared to 1280x720--the point being that at higher resolutions you have more pixels, but they necessarily can't look as good
* 1.0x: that's how much harder it is for a game engine to render a game in 1080p as compared to 1080i--the number of pixels is identical so the cost is identical. There is no such thing as a 1080p frame buffer. The frame buffer is 1080 pixels tall (and presumably 1920 wide) regardless of whether it is ultimately sent to the TV as an interlaced or as a progressive signal.
* 1280x720 with 4x AA will generally look better than 1920x1080 with no anti-aliasing (there are more total samples).

A few elaborations:
Any game could be made to run at 1920x1080. However, it is a tradeoff. It means that you can show more detail (although you need larger textures and models to really get this benefit) but it means that you have much less time to run complex pixel shaders. Most games can't justify running at higher than 1280x720--it would actually make them look worse because of the compromises they will have to make in other areas.

1080p is a higher bandwidth connection from the frame buffer to the TV than 1080i. However the frame buffer itself is identical. 1080p will look better than 1080i--interlaced flicker is not a good thing--but it makes precisely zero difference to the game developer. Just as most Xbox 1 games let users choose 480i or 480p, because it was no extra work, 1080p versus 1080i is no extra work. It's just different settings on the display chip.

Inevitably somebody will ask about field rendering. Since interlaced formats display the even lines on one refresh pass and then the odd lines on the next refresh pass, can't games just render half of the lines each time? Probably not, and even if you could you wouldn't want to. You probably can't do field rendering because it requires that you maintain a rock solid 60 fps. If you ever miss a frame it will look horrible, as the odd lines are displayed in place of the even, or vice-versa. This is a significant challenge when rendering extremely complex worlds with over 1 million pixels per field (2 million pixels per frame) and is probably not worth it. And, even if you can, you shouldn't. The biggest problem with interlaced is flicker, and field rendering makes it worse, because it disables the 'flicker fixer' hardware that intelligently blends adjacent lines. Field rendering has been done in the past, but it was always a compromise solution.[/QUOTE]

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InMyOpinion6331d ago

Then why tell people that the Ps3 runs 1080p and that only 1080p is next gen if it makes no difference you ask? Cause they want you to buy a megaexpensive Sony HD TV thats capable of producing 1080p! It's a smart way to rip off their fans even more.

Capt CHAOS6330d ago

I think it's just margeting kak, I'd run any game at 720p then at 1080p just to get a better frame rate and I've been saying the same for a year now..

TheMART6331d ago

It was known all along, on the original XBOX there are also 720p games.

But they are mostly not the most demanding titles around. They are the more 'easy' games to process on the machine.

And still then, often it looses detail from 480p to 720p

THis gen it's about the same, but then just the next resolutions debate.

720p to 1080p will have sacrefices in detail and other stuff. Still it's nice if you have the choice and own a 1080p native TV.

But for the mass of people, 720p is the sweet spot like MS says. But still it's good to see the 1080p function implemented by the fall update on the 360 for the graphic whores that will step in because of that. The nr. one sales reason of the PS3 is gone with that one. And I think the 360 GPU will be better capable of doing so compared to the RSX (no fanboys please don't say the specs aren't out yet. Why you'd think Sony didn't put them out? Because on paper it'll loose from the 360 GPU why would they hold them back otherwise? Nintendo also didn't want to put the Wii specs out because everyone can see it's an updated Gamecube!).

Yeah 720p with 4 x AA and HDR will look better then 1080p without 4 x AA an/or HDR. That's another PS3's problem, it can't do 4 x AA combined with HDR together, which the 360 can actually

lalaland6330d ago

HDR and 4xAA at the same time -- it will just cost performance in other areas, just as on the X360. Only a few X360 games actually uses the two simultaneously.

Btw the jump from 480p to 720p is the same relatively speaking as the jump from 720p to 1080p, making your statement moot.

One thing the MS guy forgets to elaborate on, is the fact that a 1080i game at full framerate, actually runs at half the framerate of a 1080p 60fps game. Why? He actually explains the reason himself, because devs almost never do fieldrendering, making 1080i full framerate effectively at 30fps.

If you were to compare 1080i 60fps game with a 1080p 30fps, he would be correct, but already both RR7 and NBA 07 are in 1080p 60fps, making them twice as taxing on the system compared to 1080i 60fps games.

It's funny how MS keeps on misinforming and misleading, isn't it... They are just as bad, if not worse, as Sony (and why wouldn't they be?).

Still no game for X360 has been confirmed as 1080p native (yep, Splinter Cell is only 1080i and that is probably just upscaled, as it is still stated as 720p at the official site), and more than eight are announced for PS3.

Doesn't that imply that, for now atleast, the PS3 has an easier time doing 1080p?

blackmagic6330d ago (Edited 6330d ago )

I think you are looking at it backwards. He did explain it correctly. Assuming you you have a display capable of accepting a full 60 frame 1080 progressive signal:

If you take a 1080p60 output signal and transmit it as 1080i60 then the display will take each frame and apply a 'de-interlace algorithm' which artificially fills in the odd or even lines that are missing from the original 1080p60 source to create a 1080p60 display. The picture quality will be downgraded and there will be shear artifacts in high motion scenes. He referred to this effect as 'interlaced flicker'. The source, however, is still a full 1080p60.

THWIP6330d ago

"Still no game for X360 has been confirmed as 1080p native (yep, Splinter Cell is only 1080i and that is probably just upscaled, as it is still stated as 720p at the official site), and more than eight are announced for PS3.

Doesn't that imply that, for now atleast, the PS3 has an easier time doing 1080p? "

No...it doesn't imply that AT ALL. It's simply about a different stategy. MS hasn't been the one pushing format's and tech that are still a in their infancy, and largely insignificant. HD-DVD/Blu-ray, 1080p/1080i are arguments that SONY initiated, as being significant for this generation, and as a supposed advantage they had over MS. MS just went on the defensive, to shut SONY up, by jumping on the 1080p bandwagon. They would much rather devs focus on making amazing titles, at 720p...but they're still making it known that the 360 is FULLY CAPABLE of 1080p. It's just not something MS will push, like SONY has (and it backfired on them with RFOM)

lalaland6330d ago

-> blackmagic

I did realize he was talking about 1080i60 just a few minutes after my post (see my later post where I admit he is factually correct). The tearing issue is the exact reason why a lot of developers settle for 1080i30 instead.


"MS just went on the defensive, to shut SONY up, by jumping on the 1080p bandwagon."

Well, they will only succeed in that, if they actually have something for the system that utilizes 1080p. For now they don't. They haven't even got a single title announced for it. The smartes move by MS would have been to announce a title at the same time as they announced the X360 is capable of 1080p, but they didn't, which to me atleast, indicates it is a feature that will probably not be in a game in the near future.

There could be multiple reasons for this, but as you say, MS is trying "to shut Sony up", so they would in all likelihood try to release something.

As it is, Sony is still the only company with announced 1080p titles. And wether you like it or not, 1080p will be more and more common in the coming years -- probably even mainstream by 2009 when half the western world will be out buying new TV sets (you know, for when analogue TV will be switched off).

"It's just not something MS will push, like SONY has (and it backfired on them with RFOM)"

Sony never said RFOM would be in 1080p, on the contrary they've publicly said that it would be for select titles only. Insomniac (which is technically still a thirdparty) stated they aimed for 1080p, but apparently (according to Price) the bigger framebuffer would take memory away from their textures on SOME levels. He didn't state it was because of a quality degrade because of the hardware wasn't fast enough, only because of the memory issue.

Now, that might not be true, but that was what he said.

And again, more than eight (can't keep count anymore) titles are announced for PS3 with full 1080p support, two of them for launch. So in no way has the 1080p strategy backfired on Sony -- quite the contrary. It's been a great success, because the visual difference is quite staggering, as reported by most journalists, on the few crossplatform titles that are 1080p on PS3.

DEIx15x86330d ago (Edited 6330d ago )

"It was known all along, on the original XBOX there are also 720p games."
The Sims Bustin' Out and The Sims 2 for the original Xbox were both available in 720P and 99% of all games released in the last two years were 480P. According to Xbox.com over 300 of the roughly 800 games listed on the site run at 480p or higher. The PS2 games can't do over 480i and with the PS3 not upconverting those games never will.

+ Show (2) more repliesLast reply 6330d ago
kmis876331d ago (Edited 6331d ago )

We all knew 1080p was very hard to do. 720p was also harder to do than 480i, but it is now expected of developers on 360 and ps3 games. Will 1080p be expected in the next generation of game consoles?

The bottom line is that if developers are willing to invest the time and money, then 1080p is a good goal for them. For most games, especially this early, 720p will be perfect. But for games where developers want to give the extra time and effort to make 1080p happen, then how can we as consumers complain about that?

DJ6331d ago (Edited 6331d ago )

He claims that the 360 is better at 1080p than the PS3, despite the fact that the first 1080p game ever shown was on a PS3. I guess he can't accept the fact that Microsoft is playing catch-up to Sony.

How many PS3 launch titles are in 1080p? How many 360 games coming out this year are in 1080p? I rest my case.

Oh yeah, I remember back in July that me and some other guys on this site stated that no matter what developers accomplish on the PS3, there will always be a few people that won't accept it and say "Well, that doesn't count!"

Now we're seeing that same comment with Ridge Racer, Virtua Tennis, and NBA 2K7. Either they say "it's not a hardware difference; the developers just worked harder on the PS3 version" or "there's not much going on; it doesn't count."

The funny thing is that the games they claim as not counting are multiplatform titles that not only run at a higher resolution on the PS3, but look better than their 360 counterparts. Graphics aren't everything, but I'm just saying...

joemutt6331d ago

Look identical. And a few would look better on the 360, but I havent heard about anything looking better on the PS3, except games like Fight Night that were finished almost a year ago, and had time to polish while waiting on the PS3 to finally ship.

Plus I dont think MS is playing catch-up, since they launched almost a year ago!! But still, the 360 will have 1080p before Sony even completes its global launch. Now thats funny.

TheMART6331d ago

WHICH games are coming out in 1080p confirmed on PS3?

GT4 HD smugged up PS2 game? That isn't hard! My original XBOX could do the easy games on 720p already 5 years ago

Virtua Tennis 3? With 2 moving characters and not much going on on the screen? Nice DJ Nice

So which game was said to get 1080p? Resistance. Now that one would have been interesting to do so. But it doesn't. Because the PS3 can't cope with it.

Now which games are stated on 360 to do 1080p?

Splinter Cell
Lost Planet

Now that would be something to talk about. Your's are just to laugh about.

And it is funny how you don't talk about the PS3 uncapable of doing 4 x AA and HDR combined. Those combined even @ 720p will look better then 1080p without and that's just plain funny.

The PS3 will be beaten either way

lalaland6330d ago (Edited 6330d ago )

Neither Splinter Cell, nor Lost Planet, has been announced as 1080p games. Actually Splinter Cell has been confirmed NOT to be a 1080p game by Ubisoft...

You keep on mentioning RFOM, but the fact of the matter is, several crossplatform games, developed simultaneously on the PS3 and X360 (so you can't use that "extra dev time argument") are 1080p on the PS3 version (Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Virtua Tennis 3).

Now if 1080p was so easy on the X360, why aren't those titles 1080p on that then?

And finally, stop with the PS3 can't do 4xAA and HDR at the same time. Ofcourse it can, but it will be at the cost of other effects. Just like on the X360. Those effects are not "free" on the X360, unless you do it in below 720p resolutions (like in PGR3 with it's almost SD resolution).

TheMART6330d ago

Well maybe not so many 360 titles are announced or working in progress in 1080p because the dev's also found out recently, that is days to weeks ago?

For the PS3 they said it from the beginning, but from the first batch of announced games, only 2 are in 1080p they say.

So that's it the other way around.

And as far as I know, not any Nvidia product can do 4 x AA and HDR at the same time at any cost. But that's what I read about it.

Those effects are 'free' on the 360 because of it's 10 MB extra fast embedded ram for the most. Even on 1080p. And you're misinformed, PGR3 was produced even before the hardware was completely known, that's why that's the only game in a less then 720p resolution. You're even worse misinformed, that title didn't even had the 4 x AA included because of that.

That was because of the hardware could or couldn't do it for free, that was just because of the programming. PGR4 will have 4 x AA + HDR at least in 720p and who knows it might knock you out of your boots in 1080p.

Why'd you think the RSX spec's aren't released 'officially'? Because it'll loose miserably against the 360 GPU.

Sony always like to throw in specs on paper, TFLOPS, emotion engines. So why do they hold it back? It's like Nintendo with Wii, they are scared to have the mediocore specs out in the open confirmed... So yeah I expect the 360 GPU to do 1080p better. But on the other end, I don't care, my HDTV's are 720p for the graphic whores it's nice though

Antan6330d ago

hehe, your not posting the same information about the RSX AGAIN are you??? im amazed you have time to play any games, as all you seem to be doing is mentioning this issue in nigh on every comment you make! I guess you couldn`t find any chill pills huh?

Antan6330d ago

hehe, your not posting the same information about the RSX AGAIN are you??? im amazed you have time to play any games, as all you seem to be doing is mentioning this issue in nigh on every comment you make! I guess you couldn`t find any chill pills huh?

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InMyOpinion6331d ago

Splinter Cell: Double Agent is 1080p, on 360. Is'nt it funny that a 360-game is running 1080p when Sony have'nt even gotten their 1080p Next Gen-breaking machine out on the market yet? Does that mean that "true next gen" is already here without the Ps3? I guess so.

kmis876331d ago

Is it native 1080p or upscaled to 1080p? If they could actually go and change the game to native 1080p in the short time since Microsoft announced 1080p support, then well, maybe 1080p is easier than we thought?

DJ6331d ago

I still haven't seen an official announcement. There's articles that say it's native 1080p, others that say it's upscaled to 1080p, and one even quoted Ubisoft that's not 1080p, it's 1080i. Until we get a final official statement I'm not sure what to think.

BTW, the statements I made about graphical superiority on multiplatform titles like Madden, Virtua Tennis, and NBA 2K7 can be backed up by reputable gaming sites like IGN and 1UP.

Do you know what's funny Joemutt? That Microsoft said 1080p was unnecessary, bad for games, and not going to happen on any PS3 title this year. Now that we've got 6 or 7 PS3 titles coming out this year in 1080p, Microsoft has had to contradict themselves yet again and come out with a firmware update.

Yes, they launched a year ago, but they've been playing technological catch-up for things like HD movie playback and Full HD output. Unfortunately, once you have a product out on the market you can't update the physical hardware to catch up with the demands of consumers. And so far that's been Sony's big advantage, the fact that they're not out on the market yet. It has allowed them to upgrade the physical hardware on multiple occasions and stay two steps ahead of the competition.