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Microsoft: Cloud Will Quadruple Power of Xbox One

By - Source: OXM | B 123 comments

Apparently when consumers purchase an Xbox One console this holiday season, they'll actually have four: one physical, and three virtual that will reside in the cloud.

Group program manager of Xbox Incubation & Prototyping Jeff Henshaw recently told OXM that for every console Microsoft builds, it will provision the CPU and storage equivalent of three Xbox One consoles in the cloud. This allows developers to assume that there's roughly three times the resources immediately available to their game. Thus, developers can build bigger, persistent levels that are more inclusive for players.

"It's also been stated that the Xbox One is ten times more powerful than the Xbox 360, so we're effectively 40 times greater than the Xbox 360 in terms of processing capabilities [using the cloud]," added Xbox Australia rep Adam Pollington. "If you look to the cloud as something that is no doubt going to evolve and grow over time, it really spells out that there's no limit to where the processing power of Xbox One can go. I think that's a very exciting proposition, not only for Australians, but anyone else who's going to pick up the Xbox One console."

So what exactly will the Xbox One do with all that cloud processing power and storage? General Manager of Redmond Game Studios and Platforms Matt Booty gave Ars Technica a scenario, describing a scene where the user is moving through a rugged terrain shrouded by volumetric fog.

"Let’s say you’re looking at a forest scene and you need to calculate the light coming through the trees, or you’re going through a battlefield and have very dense volumetric fog that’s hugging the terrain," he said. "Those things often involve some complicated up-front calculations when you enter that world, but they don’t necessarily have to be updated every frame. Those are perfect candidates for the console to offload that to the cloud—the cloud can do the heavy lifting, because you’ve got the ability to throw multiple devices at the problem in the cloud."

He also said that cloud computation could even handle physics modeling, fluid dynamics, and cloth motion which require a lot of up-front computation, without adding lag to the actual gameplay. Thus the server resources Microsoft is dedicating to these calculations will be much greater than what a single, local Xbox One console can do on its own.That's where the 3:1 cloud-console description comes into play.

"Game developers have always had to wrestle with levels of detail... managing where and when you show details is part of the art of games," Booty said. "One of the exciting challenges going forward is a whole new set of techniques to manage what is going to be offloaded to the cloud and what’s going to come back."

Xbox Live corporate VP Marc Whitten recently told OXM that Microsoft dialed back development of the new console until the company was confident that it could deliver a genuine technological leap over the current Xbox 360.

"Frankly a lot of people have said 'hey, stuff looks pretty cool on Xbox 360 - do we need more power?" he told OXM. "Is my TV going to be powerful enough?' And in fact, until we found that we'd got to a place where the stories could be different, the experience could be different, we didn't want to ship a next generation console. We've been using the Xbox 360 to continue to revive the experience, to go deeper. But it is clear that with power the types of stories you can do are fundamentally different."

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  • 14 Hide
    spagalicious , May 26, 2013 6:46 AM
    Sounds like an excuse to force feed always-on DRM.
    Xbox One is just getting an enormous "Sim City" treatment.
  • 11 Hide
    Estix , May 26, 2013 6:44 AM
    "This allows developers to assume that there's roughly three times the resources immediately available to their game."
    So, they said it doesn't require a constant internet connection, but now they say developers can assume that you are constantly connected, essentially?
Other Comments
  • 11 Hide
    Estix , May 26, 2013 6:44 AM
    "This allows developers to assume that there's roughly three times the resources immediately available to their game."
    So, they said it doesn't require a constant internet connection, but now they say developers can assume that you are constantly connected, essentially?
  • 14 Hide
    spagalicious , May 26, 2013 6:46 AM
    Sounds like an excuse to force feed always-on DRM.
    Xbox One is just getting an enormous "Sim City" treatment.
  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , May 26, 2013 6:54 AM
    I'm happy for all the 12 yr olds out there that will think this is the best thing since the wheel. For us adults that game we know what the true gaming platform is.
  • 5 Hide
    FunSurfer , May 26, 2013 7:06 AM
    XB1. 3 OSs. 0 SSD. bottleneck?
  • 1 Hide
    lockhrt999 , May 26, 2013 7:12 AM
    What now? Didn't somebody from MS said at the launch of XB1 that XB won't be using cloud for computation like PS4?
  • 7 Hide
    Estix , May 26, 2013 7:15 AM
    The XB1 is just a way to rope people into having to have several subscription services to use one device :p 
  • 0 Hide
    Noltz , May 26, 2013 7:18 AM
    Interesting, but sketchy
  • 8 Hide
    amdfangirl , May 26, 2013 7:27 AM
    What about us Australians with ~200ms+ pings? How will this service deliver the data fast enough when the connection is already a bit shoddy?
    Congesting a small road with a traffic jam is going to make this worse, not better.
    Sounds like someone is little scared of the hardware in the PS4.
  • 5 Hide
    anxiousinfusion , May 26, 2013 7:30 AM
    Also for physics? Oh boy, waiting on those packets for cloud calculations is going to cause glitch city. And what about those times when one's internet is down? Is the game unplayable?
  • 1 Hide
    mazymony , May 26, 2013 7:36 AM
    Sounds great for people who have internet speeds like 100 down and 40 up, hope you enjoy it while am stuck at 1.5 down and .3 up. I'll take more local power anyday than the gimmiky cloud.
  • 0 Hide
    Spooderman , May 26, 2013 7:41 AM
    I don't even know what to think about this.
  • 3 Hide
    cmartin011 , May 26, 2013 7:44 AM
    Sounds like I we are going to need a fibre connection to make this possible.. were are all these resources going to come from with millions playing? I know the bottle neck is going to be connection speed latency is going to be ridiculous
  • 2 Hide
    gallidorn , May 26, 2013 7:44 AM
    They problem I see with this statement, is that Microsoft assumes that everyone has a good internet connection that could support constant information from the cloud. OnLive tried cloud gaming and even though what they accomplished was amazing, their service would freeze and time out on even the best of internet connections.
  • 2 Hide
    NightLight , May 26, 2013 7:47 AM
    i think this idea will be severely limited by people with internet caps. most users in belgium have a 10gb cap.
  • 2 Hide
    gallidorn , May 26, 2013 7:49 AM
    The other issue is that with constant downloading/uploading from the cloud, you could reach the limits of your internet service provider, and then they will throttle your connection. Having a throttled connection while synchronizing with the cloud and multi-player gaming, could equal a very bad user experience.
  • -1 Hide
    gallidorn , May 26, 2013 7:50 AM
    The other issue is that with constant downloading/uploading from the cloud, you could reach the limits of your internet service provider, and then they will throttle your connection. Having a throttled connection while synchronizing with the cloud and multi-player gaming, could equal a very bad user experience.
  • 2 Hide
    eklipz330 , May 26, 2013 7:54 AM
    ohh so you're telling me IT IS ALWAYS ONLINE?
  • 3 Hide
    cozmium , May 26, 2013 7:59 AM
    I really wish this whole 'cloud' terminology would just stop being used - it's creating a whole generation of idiots who don't understand simple server/client relationships and make it seem like it's some special magic technology.
    Persistent worlds/levels? Yes, it's called connecting to a server which is running it all the time. Offloaded computation? So if those volumetrics have to change, like when something passes through them, you have to wait for that to go between server and client. Either that or you have looking very nice and not realistically changing.
    Not at all interested in all the 'social this', 'cloud that' b.s. that the XB1 seems to be touting. I don't need a piece of equipment that connects to anything and everything - I have real equipment seperately to do that. I just want a gaming console to play games when i'm not using, you know, a pc.
  • -1 Hide
    Octavio Salguero , May 26, 2013 8:08 AM
    Blast processing!
  • 1 Hide
    hannibal , May 26, 2013 8:10 AM
    So you can play minesweep without net connection but anything more demanding needs cloud computing to become playable... interesting... Actually more interesting in reality is how game developers handle different situansions, when one player is playing the same game without internet connection, one have 3g mobile phone connection and one high speed wired connection. How they will scale the play experiment? Is there speed difference, graphic difference, or what between those players playing the same game. Indeed interesting!
    It is now easy to see why the Xbox is suposed to be allways in internet connection, hopefully there is some way of playing allso without connection from time to time and have the extra eye candy when you have the connection. A lot of unansvered questions in there.
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