Unreal’s Next Engine Will Need A Console At Least 10x More Powerful Than Xbox 360

Unreal’s Next Engine Will Need A Console At Least 10x More Powerful Than Xbox 360

The human eye can only perceive 72 frames per second. We’ve been seeing games at 60 frames per second for some time. And as graphics approach photorealism with current computing power, some suggest that the days of giant leaps in visual quality are past us, and we’ll be seeing smaller refinements going forward.

Not so, Tim Sweeney, the founder of Epic Games, said in a talk at DICE 2012, estimating that a complete approximation of “perfect” visual quality requires computing power about 2000 times greater than today’s hardware.

A “good enough,” approximation of visual reality, Sweeney said, is 5000 trillion floating point operations per second, or teraFLOPs. By comparison, the much-noticed “Samaritan” demonstration of Unreal Engine at last year’s Game Developers Conference, required just 2.5 teraFLOPs.

By comparison to that, an Xbox 360 can handle 0.25 teraFLOPs. That means “Samaritan”, which was the latest demonstration of Unreal Engine 3’s capabilities, would require an Xbox 10 times more powerful than it is today. For Unreal 4, who knows what it’ll take. But it suggests that the next console generation will be have to be as conspicuously more powerful in its processing capabilities as the 360 and PlayStation 3 are next to their predecessors.

As to Unreal 4, the last word we heard is that the engine would be ready sometime in 2014. Now, Epic’s vice president, Mark Rein, has told G4 that we can expect to see some sort of reveal this year. “People are going to be shocked later this year when they see Unreal Engine 4 and how much more profound an effect it will have,” Rein told G4.

So when Sweeney says “expect rapid visual advances in computer graphics,” he probably means business.

Tim Sweeney’s Crystal Ball – D.I.C.E. 2012 [GameSpot] Unreal Engine 4 To Be Revealed In 2012 According To Epic’s Mark Rein [G4TV]


  • Epic games played a large part in deciding the 360 specs.
    The 360 was only going to have 256MB RAM and larger internal storage. But Epic pushed MS into increasing the 360 to 512 MB RAM after showing them the huge increase it made to Gears of War.
    The trade off though? No internal hard drive.

    • oh no internal hard drive. i dont care. the 360 should be packed with ram and graphics and performance and the power supply and hard drive doesnt need to be jammed internally. if i wanted that I would get a playstation system. make the next xbox 10 times more powerful.

      oh no 256mb ram and internal hard drive but if we double the ram no internal hard drive oh no what ever shall we do. who gives a stuff about an internal hard drive! i would rather have the ram 50 times over than an internal hard drive.

    • I’d disagree and suggest an alternative:

      Consoles allow developers to enhance the breadth and depth of games and genres each generation.

      PC development allows developers to try and push ahead to the next latest and greatest hardware revision.

      However, if we only had PC’s, gaming would likely be dead at this point – not many people can afford to grab a new video card and other hardware every six months in order to play a new game.

      • PC gaming would be more mainstream if it werent for people like you propagating the sterotype that you need to upgrade every six months…

        I’ve been using the same hardware for two years and I can run BF3 just fine

        • Not many games are pushed out with their top tier graphics pegged on technology that was standard twelve months ago.

          Aside from that, the point I was making was that if we did not have consoles, there would be even more drive in the PC games industry to always be cutting edge, because games on that level seem to be important to a lot of people. That would most likely result in a cycle that demanded gamers update once or twice a year to experience top-tier graphics and performance.

          Sure, games have lower level texture packs for people who aren’t using a card from next week, but in a lot of cases those aren’t exactly the ones used in games demos or screenshots – driving a lot of people to want to upgrade in order to experience the “proper” game.

        • Anyone running the same PC hardware for three years is just using a console anyway. Console = PC with all the same parts that don’t change. Seriously.

        • Most “PC Games” these days are just console ports anyways. So saying that you can play current pc games despite having not upgraded your rig in 3 years just means that you can play console games on your pc.

          Like Zap suggests. If developers developed games solely for the pc then pc games would be much, much more demanding and would require upgrades much more frequently.

          It’s because consoles are “holding games back” that we are able to extend the life of the hardware in our pc cases.

          Just for clarification i mostly game on pc. =)

      • I hate this “upgrade every six months” nonsense. You should only have to do it once every two or three years. Even then, you’re not buying a whole new PC, just replacing the main components, e.g. replacing video card, buying a couple extra sticks of RAM, or upgrading a CPU. Every now and then you’ll have to buy a new motherboard if you want to take advantage of the newest RAM/CPU.

        Yes, spending a couple thousand every 3 years is still more expensive than a console, but then again you don’t have to pay as much for the games, ridiculous controller prices, batteries, $150 wireless NICs (X360), online service subscriptions, etc.

        • You guys peddling the idea that you DON’T need to upgrade every six months were probably born after 1990.

          Sure this is true now, but not long ago it wasn’t. You really did have to upgrade every six months. Anyone want to guess why the industry has settled down a little and standardised to the point where you can get away with upgrading every two years? I suggest consoles have a lot to do with it.

          • I was born in 1984, and last time I checked we’re talking about what’s relevant now, not 10 years ago.

            You know why I think the PC industry’s advancement is settling down instead of speeding up? Part of it may have to do with consoles (this applies to cross platform releases only), but you’re ignoring:
            – The technological plateau we’ve reached
            – The huge difference between minimum, maximum and average specs of PC users

            Only a comparatively small handful have expensive high-end PCs, and developers target their games at the widest audience available. This is why you see Blizzard and most MMO developers making PC-exclusive games that can run on a 5-year old laptop. The occasional game comes out to push the platform, such as Crysis, but those are exceptions and not the norm.

            In the last 10 years I’ve upgraded my computer on average once every 2 years. Before that I was still a student and only got a computer upgrade every 4-5 years or so. I somehow still managed to be a hardcore PC gamer through all of that.

            Sometimes you just have to accept that you can’t run a game on “Ultra” settings.

          • That’s all fine (and – 1984 buddies; fist bump).

            But unless you do upgrade your PC to stay on the cutting edge, you’re paralleling the consoles anyway so the elitism doesn’t make sense. The trolls crying about “console toys” are usually the guys who’ve spent thousands on a PC and get upset when they can’t get all their teraflops happening at once.

          • Unless my PC is running so fast that it is bending time around itself then it isn’t even truly gaming. And I built it with the loose change I found between the couch cushions so your argument is invalid.

          • You never need to apologise, when you’re being reasonable like that. (Anyway what are you doing, this is the internet! Continue being polite and stuff and we’ll all think there’s something wrong with you.)

            Back on topic – you are talking about the minority of PC users there. A second GPU? Overclocking, custom cooling? The group who does this might be the vocal ones on forums but they are certainly NOT a large proportion of the market.

    • I think if you took consoles out of the equation we’d all be playing on Macs that cost more and do less anyway. It’s not like all the gamers who play now are suddenly going to develop an interest in building and maintaining PCs.
      Even with PCs we see games held back by laughable minimum specs in order to capture a reasonable market all the time.

      So it’s not consoles holding gaming back it’s gamers driving gaming forward at the pace the majority is comfortable with instead of going 1000% flat out like a small sub-group of gamers want.

    • No, Ren, it is developers.

      For the up-teenth time, gaming is about the game, not the platform run on it.

      If a game stinks on one platform (eg: console) it is going to stink everywhere else (PC, Atari 2600 etc).

  • Just from reading about this thing in neogaf, they had the idea of only rendering it in 1280×720, which is still hd but a requiring a lot less power? Whats the approximate power difference between 720 and 1080 HD?

    • 1920×1080 = 2,073,600 pixels, total
      1280×720 = 921,600 pixels, total

      That is a factor of 2.25 difference.

    • The other difference is that a lot of people have 1080p TV’s these days. They would be seriously annoyed if they’re told that their brand new console only runs at 720p.

      If MS did that, and Sony pushed 1080p for all games, Sony would gain huge market share.

      Yes, most people can’t really tell the difference in fidelity between 720p and 1080p, other than screen stretching when the first is upscaled to the second – but that’s not something people care about. They want to know their $500 console is making full use of the capabilities of their $3000 TV.

    • They sell alot of licences to console developers, but they are still going strong with PC. They also don’t have these problems when it comes to PC’s since PC’s can already handle the Samaritan demo, sure you need an currently very expensive rig to run it, but in a few years that wont be the case.

      I am still waiting on Unlimited Detail, the product isn’t fake like some are to believe, and the guys from Brisbane are going to make a big different to graphics when the product releases and put Australia on the map when it comes to graphics.

    • Consoles are a standardised format which nowadays you expect to be around for about 5 years+. Of course Epic are looking at it. Most of their customers will be using it.

      PCs on the other hand will take care of themselves and a more powerful PC will always be available.

      • This. Once a console is launched, it’s a standardised, closed and predictable environment in terms of hardware, which is very attractive to developers.

        Not having to change everything every couple of months for new capabilities, or worry about a billion configurations/gamers who haven’t/can’t afford to update their hardware as well as those who can and want to see it being pushed – that’s worth the focus on consoles.

        Given the length of development on a lot of games these days, knowing that in two year’s time your game will be running as expected on expected hardware is *extremely important*, especially considering how demanding and fickle gamers seem these days.

  • “The human eye can only perceive 72 frames per second.” – This just simply isn’t true, the human eye doesn’t work in ‘frames per second’ at all.

    • I agree, I think it’s just the layman’s way of describing the point at which the human eye/visual cortex stops seeing much improvement from increasing framerates (diminishing returns).

      • Stops *noticing*, I meant to say. Your brain may still subconsciously be able to discern more information, but it probably won’t make much difference to your gaming experience.

        I can still definitely feel a difference between 60Hz and 120Hz on a PC, but that relates more to the responsiveness of mouse movements, and not so much the fluidity of movement on the screen.

        • I thought it depended on how fast you were moving in the game. Like if your character is going at walking speed there would be no noticeable difference between 20fps and 60fps. If your character was speeding along in a fighter jet or something though the difference would become a lot more noticeable.

          Because of this it seems like it may be possible for your character to rapidly move over an enviroment at such a speed that you’d need above 72fps in order to keep things looking smooth.

          • It depends a lot on the blurring. 25fps with proper blurring will look natural, but 60fps with none at all won’t.

      • Thats an average number, for some people it can be more, some a little less. It depends on what kind of shape your visual cortex is in. Personally I can detect the difference between 60, 75 and 85 frames (although it’s been a while since I saw 85 frames since the death of the CRT).

  • The next gen consoles arn’t gonna look at as good as the samartan demo, not if they come out next year anyway.Once they have been out a year or two and dev’s know all the tricks they may look as good as crysis 2 or barrlefield 3 on the pc.
    If rumors are to be believied the next x-box will be 6X more powerfull than the 360, in other words only 60% of what’s needed for the samaritan demo.If Sony wait another year or two after the release of the next x-box, and are willing to sell at a loss they might be able to push 2.5 TFLOPS out of the PS4.

    • However if they did wait those two years or so that would be two years selling a still very powerful console at 200ish vs the new xbox at 500ish. I’m sure they’d make up some ground in this time 🙂

      • i don’t think its unreasonable to see Sony exceed that mininium.

        The playstation 2 was capable of 6.2 gigaflops. The playstation 3 is capable of 230 gigaflops. That’s a difference of 37 times. If Sony was able to maintain that difference then 230 X 37 = 8,150 gigaflops, divide by 1000 = 8.5 teraflops.

        Even if they were only able to create a PS3 25 times better then the preceding model you’d still have something that exceeds the min requirement of the new software engines.

  • Really? Who cares.. That may sound bad but I could care less about the engine, I want to see the games running on that engine, and not some tech demo thats missing AI, physics and all the other things that chew up a lot of CPU/GPU power as well..

  • I have both pc and a ps3. I play the ps3 more but have a pc to play games like the witcher 2 and total war series. I find the ps3 more useful after a hard days work as it just generally works. The issue with pc is not so much the hardware but the various drivers and configurations that a developer needs to cater for. I find that a certain version of a driver works better for a certain game and then another driver will work better for another game.

    • What crack have you been smoking?, once you have your new hardware setup and installed (which Win7 does well for the most part) you are not required to uninstall and reinstall anything depending on which game you load.

      Yes drivers do get updates, no you do not always need to update them. In fact if one took your argument of “one driver is better for one game” then you could in fact be saying that PC is the way to go as it would allow you to have this flexibility in which a console your limited.

  • After 7 years, i’d imagine the console developers have something pretty neat up their sleeves – they’re not idiots and the resources they have at their disposal are phenomenal. I realise the Wii U challenges the legitimacy of that statement.

  • The part of the slide I don’t like is the “30fps”. There is a huge difference between the smoothness of MW3 and Rage (60fps) and BF3 and Skyrim (30fps). I’d really like to see the next generation being able to push 60fps while still looking good.

    It’d be nice if the nextbox and PS4 were backwards compatible to the current generation with flagship titles like Skyrim and BF3 patched to now run at 60fps. A man can dream.

  • For additional reference AMD’s last generation top end part (the HD6970) is already capable pf 2.7TFLOPS worth of single precision compute power. If one were to drop that GPU into a future console you could comfortably achieve the Samaritan demo in real time.

  • The console vs pc price argument is redundant. it may have been the case 15 years ago when someone might have a pc or a nintendo – but nowadays everyone has at least a 1 pc in the house which could easily be made to play (most) games at a higher level of detail than a console for a few hundred dollars. not only that – its multipurpose

    • Your just a console fanboy. You need to grow up and accept that the adults play PC. Everyone knows that only people of worth understand how PCs operate.


  • What is this? A center for ants?
    How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read… if they can’t even fit inside the building?
    The building has to be at least… three times bigger than this!

    • Damn straight. They just buy the game, put it in and play. A monkey could do that. They don’t even have to read system requirements. Toddlers the lot o them.

  • Elitist should all go jump off a cliff, dont care for you reasoning. Just go jump seriously. Do us all a favour. You are scum. DIE DIE DIE.

    Thats pretty much how you all sound. so you should take your own advice.

    • But if I jump off a cliff I won’t have optimised the cost/power/usage ratio of my computer, and I won’t be able to justify it. That would be like buying three packets of Shapes, when they’re four for six dollars(like at Woollies and Safeway now)!

      • although, jumping off the cliff WITH you PC would make you maximise the airflow for that 12.345 seconds you spend in the air (it’s a very tall cliff)

    • Whilst I do not like the protests from PC fanboys, I dislike wishing harm on anyone else even more.

      Unless you want the same thing wished upon yourself, DO NOT wish it on others.

      I maybe an atheist, but I swear by the bible phrase do unto others as you would have them do unto yourself.

  • Yes, the Samaritan demo was running on 3 580’s to get it fully functional in real time, however, someone from Epic, I can’t remember who, stated that with hard optimisations, they’d be able to get an almost pixel perfect recreation running in real time on a single 580.

    Odds are, the next gen consoles will be running GPU’s that sit at the equivalent of the upper-end 500/600 series, they’ll have decent CPU’s, and they will have an arse-tonne more RAM than our current consoles, what with how it’s become cheap as chips. When talking about FLOPS, you need to remember that every component in the computer helps to generate them.

  • 2000x as powerful as “current” (is that meant to mean the Xbox 360?) for photorealism should take about 16 years to happen. Depending on whether that 16 starts now or in 2006 means we should, according to Tim, be seeing photorealism by 2022-2028

  • is anyone toally happy with the quality of consoles we have right now, and not even worrying about “next gen” consoles?

    i mean, the only console that needs a “next gen” is the Wii, because that looks terrible compared to the rest. but i feel that now we are at a really sweet spot, and i don’t really care if it’s another 2 or 3 years before i see a new console, my PS3, Xbox and PC do fine enough for me.


      i kid i kid… i’m with you there, i think the dev’s now a days does a fantastic job at squeesing every bit of performance and eye candy out of current gen consoles they can, and most things look amazing… i sorta have a foot in each camp though, i do have a fairly new (2 week old) PC which is a power horse… but sometimes i really just feel like slumping on the couch, and the XBox has some amazing looking games… Alan Wake still does a fantastic job and plays well

    • I’d be happier if my PS3 games were all 1080p.

      I’ve noticed the difference, especially after sinking a lot of hours into Disgaea 3.

      Other than that, I’d like a new PS3 that supports cross game chat, which means it needs more RAM. Or, a way of upgrading the ram. Either/or.

    • Yep – this gen could go on another couple of years and I’d be totally cool with it! Frankly I think photorealism was acheived back in 2006, what’s improved since then is art direction so scary uncanny valley faces of GTAIV or Mass Effect are becoming a thing of the past with games like Enslaved or LA Noire.

      The other things I’ve noticed – cel shading has made a comeback – mostly because people realise games like Wind Waker, Killer 7 and XIII still look good today years later.

      Although the graphics have improved remarkably from the PS2 gen to the current gen the thing that has really improved beyond compare is control, try playing any of the old PS2 GTA games and see how easily you get put off by the poor aiming and ropey camera, play Mario Sunshine and marvel at how you ever got through it when 90% of the time you are a sillouhette behind a big wall, give Metroid Prime a crack and wonder in amazement how you ever got by without a second stick (even more criminal given there was a second stick on the damn controller!) How about playing a driving game where the face buttons are used to accellerate and brake!

      The real strides in the past 6 years have been all about the control scheme – everything else is just gravy

      • Just pointing out that single stick control in Prime was a gameplay choice, not a failure of the system’s capabilities. Plenty of dual-analogue FPS’s were out before then – eg Timesplitters – and Prime is not an FPS.
        This is the perfect marriage of level design and control, and makes teh game what it is.

  • If the announcements and chest beating between Nintendo and MS are true these unreleased consoles aren’t even as fast as low-mid range PCs today. How does anyone expect Samaritan level graphics from the next Xbox with a 6670 level GPU? All they will be aiming for is actually running games in 1080p with slightly better graphics vs the current 720p and below now.

  • Wow, I remember when it was console vs console, now its console vs PC flamage.

    Without wanting to start a hardware race riot it comes back to for example the android vs ios environment, open vs closed architecture .

    The closed one “just works” but you might not be able to tweak every last bit out of it like you can with an Open system.

    However the closed system has hardware parity, all being equal they are easier to program to get the most performance out of as there aren’t as many variables with hardware and capability, with the Open system you might get software running great on one spec and like a dog on another.

    There’s a lot to be said for both but comparing some of the release titles graphics on current gen consoles to the most recent ones you would wonder if they were on the same generation console.

    Being forced to work with what you have makes for better advances than having so much horse power you can sling bloated code at it and not really get much gain by comparison.
    Yes coders are that lazy…

    • *Hands Reaver an award for excellence in common sense.*

      That is exactly the case, Reaver. Consoles don’t need to the hardware grunt of PCs because they are specialised for the task of gaming where as PCs are general purpose and are weighed down by so much software overhead with the operating system and drivers any gains from the beefy hardware are lost.

      And before anyone tries to go on an OS tangent, I use all three main veins and can safely say they are all just fine – unless you mess with the drivers. I personally made console Linux run slower than Vista because I did not configure it right.

      At the end of the day, the point of gaming is about the game. A good game shines no matter what platform it is run one. Take Mass Effect, originally a console exclusive but has made the transition well into the PC and PS3. Partly because Bioware took the porting seriously but mostly because it is the imersion that sells the game.

      If the experience of a game varies between platforms, then there is something seriously wrong with the design and construction of the game. Taking a came from a console to a PC DOES NOT make it better, though good luck in finding people to take one seriously on that point.

      And before I get branded a console fanboy, I have a MacBook Pro, a Quad Core PC, all three current generation consoles and a number of prior generation consoles. So I keep my options open and play games of various platforms. Unlike fanboys, I do not confine myself to just one platform and subsequently cut myself short of access to games.

  • I believe that if they really think it need hardware 2000 times more powerful today, I believe they need new programmers…

  • I like all the people who justify not being able to work a computer because “They have a life”.

    Do you not have time between snowboarding down a mountain and having sex with girls to figure out how to install a driver update?

    If t doesn’t work its usually because you have ruined your computer in some way, usually by surfing dodgy websites and having 100 copies of the ASK toolbar in your web browser.

    But you have time to sit and play on a console?

    Real gamers own a PC and all the consoles. (Except the Wii)

  • “The human eye can only perceive 72 frames per second”
    Can I get a source on that information. I know it’s not entirely relevant but I would really like to know if this is true.

  • I, like many others on this thread, play both PC and consoles, and I think a point that’s being missed is how working with an old platform makes programmers better at what they do. Squeezing the last little bit of visual flair out of an aging piece of hardware makes them more economical with how they use what they have. These expanded skillsets can only serve them (and us) better once they have new hardware to play with.
    Compare God of War, for example, to the first Devil May Cry and see what I mean.
    I reckon I’d be happy with another two or three years of the PS3 – I don’t think they’ve got the most out of the system yet, not by a long shot. The 360 is falling further and further behind and needs an upgrade – PS3 is still going strong. The teasers for The Last Of Us show that in the hands of skilled developers, the best is yet to come.

  • It would roughly be about 200 years based on an average of 3.5 teraflops every 2 years based on dual chip design to get close to that in computing power but of course not including great technological jumps here and there so I think maybe even 100 years is possible with bery good programing and would have to be in a whole new way of computing technology maybe with graphen or a whole new way of chip making like theoretical stuff you see in the labs but who knows.

  • It would actually be 1500 years based on his estimates of 5000 teraflops of computing power not 200 years sorry but I’m sure will have Pixar like quality by then:)

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