AMD Says VR Will Be A Big Focus On Next-Gen Consoles
We know that VR is going to be a big thing on the PC, and at the moment and in the foreseeable future, PC will have that one feature over any other gaming platform. As we know, AMD have embraced VR as a lucrative path for it’s technology to exploit, and pushing out its LiquidVR platform and partnership with system makers for Oculus Ready PCs shows how much they want to be the go to VR graphics solution. As we know, both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One use a custom made AMD APU to power them, so it’s no shocker to see that AMD are privy to a bit of information regarding the future of consoles–and they say that VR will be a big focus on the next-generation of gaming consoles. They state that to make that possible AMD has said that they will have 5 times the performance per-watt as the current generation of consoles.
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To achieve 5 times the performance of current generation consoles seems like a tall order, but when you look at the current output of graphical performance, current gen struggles to output 30fps at 1080p–more so with the Xbox One. When we consider that the VR headsets due for release next will have higher resolutions and require 90fps to perform comfortably for the user, you can see the performance gap current generation consoles have.
AMD, however, are promising that the next generation of consoles will take a massive leap of performance, and although 5 times the current performance per-watt does not equate to 5 times the performance, what it does do is allow more powerful hardware to operate within the same power envelope of a console, which should represent a significant increase in itself.
The question, then, is what kinds of resolutions(i.e 4K) will be the standard when next-gen consoles release? Will those future consoles be able to handle newer game engines at higher resolutions, let alone manage it in VR? AMD seems confident enough that its Graphics Core Next architecture has will be able to meet that challenge, and they are confident that their APUs will be behind it all once again, as it is claiming to deliver those respective chips for next generation console makers by 2018.
Like much of the touted performance increases for VR PC gaming going forward, it’s less about the overt hardware chops and more about optimisation, and the extra performance will come from AMD’s Liquid VR, which will have the ability to utilise asynchronous shaders under DX 12 for improved performance, as well as a more linear improvement for multi-GPU configurations.
We’ve already heard Oculus employees say that asynchronous shaders–and their ability to enable fast preemptive context switching–are going to be an important part of VR. This all leads me to think that could we an see inter-segmentation in the console space? It’s not like offering one “faster” console which can play games at higher resolutions, but simply a 1:2 scaling of console performance. If the new API allows much better scaling, could we see Microsoft or PlayStation offer two versions of their consoles, one with a single APU/GPU and an “Enthusiast” console with two APU/GPUs for those wanting the performance for VR on console? The hidden threat is what if VR gaming is not as popular as envisioned and the extra power needed in a console is wasted?
It remains to be seen, but will GCN be with us until 2018 and can AMD scale that architecture up enough?