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Microsoft and Sony Are Debating Over Whose Console Really Offers 'True 4K' (arstechnica.com) 147

Sony's PlayStation 4, which will go on sales in two months, comes loaded with rendering pipeline and some proprietary upscaling techniques that can improve lower resolution base signals to take fuller advantage of a 4K display. Microsoft is seemingly upset with how Sony is marketing this, and it is not shying from telling people that no amount of upscaling can fill in those missing 4K pixels and the hardware inefficiency to produce native and "true 4K" images that the Project Scorpio, its gaming console that is coming next year can. Microsoft has also said that any game that it will launch during the Scorpio timeframe will "natively render at 4K." But the debate is anything from over because Microsoft keeps reminding everyone that the processor and GPU in its upcoming console is more powerful. As ArsTechnica explains: With Scorpio, Microsoft seems to be arguing that every first-party game at launch will be able to generate and render nearly 8.3 million pixels (four times as many as a 1080p game) at an acceptable frame rate (i.e., at least 30 times a second). That would be quite an achievement. As we noted back at E3, it currently takes pricey, high-end PC graphics cards like the Nvidia GTX 1080 or the AMD R9 Fury X -- cards that run $300 or much higher -- to "barely scrape by" with a native 4K, 30fps game. And those PC cards seem to have significantly more raw power than what is being claimed by Microsoft -- 9 and 8.4 teraflops, respectively, vs. a claimed 6 teraflops for Scorpio (and 4.2 teraflops for the PS4 Pro).Microsoft's head of Xbox planning, Albert Penello said, "I know that 4.2 teraflops is not enough to do true 4K." In an interview with Eurogamer, Penello adds:I think there are a lot of caveats they're giving customers right now around 4K. They're talking about checkerboard rendering and up-scaling and things like that. There are just a lot of asterisks in their marketing around 4K, which is interesting because when we thought about what spec we wanted for Scorpio, we were very clear we wanted developers to take their Xbox One engines and render them in native, true 4K. That was why we picked the number, that's why we have the memory bandwidth we have, that's why we have the teraflops we have, because it's what we heard from game developers was required to achieve native 4K.
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Microsoft and Sony Are Debating Over Whose Console Really Offers 'True 4K'

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  • by LichtSpektren ( 4201985 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @01:12PM (#52932725)
    ... the question on everyone's minds is, "why can't they both lose?"
    • They can.
      But if the do, who/what will take its place? And will that be better than what they do?
      Often when the Giants in a market fall, the need is filled with a bunch of scrappy young players, who are often rather poorly off at first until they can mature.
      During the 1983 Videogame crash, it took a couple of years before Nintendo was able to get back into the market. While in the meantime there was little movement and a lot of fear.

      • Valve. Steam machines are nice, it's just the chicken-or-the-egg problem in regards to Linux support for games.
        • Steam Machines are snowballing, there are ~2k+ games on Steam Machines right now and 1,300 that are hinting at coming (according to SteamDB). Gamers want instant gratification, but I have a hunch Valve knows success is gradual and I see them going Falco Punch style.
        • it's just the chicken-or-the-egg problem in regards to Linux support for games.

          Well, given the current repertoire available for Linux on Steam :
          it's more like there a giant flock of tiny hummingbirds who are happily laying eggs all together in Linux nest.
          Only a couple of huge ostriches are too smug to lay their giant eggs there, or are only able to lay hideously deformed linux eggs.

          There are currently thousands of Linux games on Steam. Most are indie games.
          Of the triple A big studios, only a few run on engines that already have good Linux ports (hi, Ryan Gordon !)
          The rest are either d

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      ... the question on everyone's minds is, "why can't they both lose?"

      Children arguing about who can do 4K in 2016.... That's cute.

      Signed,
      PC Gaming.

  • "Debating"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @01:14PM (#52932739)

    Penis length comparison, rather.

    Seriously, anyone giving a shit about higher resolution? What I care about is sensible gameplay and fun. You remember fun? Try to put it back into games and I'll bother buying some again.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Nothing wrong with a mass debate. It can even be healthy.

    • There was a decade when arguing all these technical minutia was something the Unix vendors did, while Microsoft just kept making things easier. Now it's caught up in a really arcane argument over the #pixels - reminds me of when people would be proud of the number of MHz/MB that their computers had
      • by Ranbot ( 2648297 )

        There was a decade when arguing all these technical minutia was something the Unix vendors did, while Microsoft just kept making things easier. Now it's caught up in a really arcane argument over the #pixels - reminds me of when people would be proud of the number of MHz/MB that their computers had

        Agreed. This also reminds me of the 3G network Verizon had against AT&T had a few years ago. Technically, Verizon was right that AT&T was exaggerating their 3G network by playing games with their definition of 2G/2.5G, but only the hardcore nerds took any notice or cared.

        The vast majority of game console consumers (i.e. not the hardcore nerds on internet forums) do not care about technical details. Most consumers want to know about exclusive titles, services, compatibility/integration, console longe

    • They need to do this to force users to dispose of old consoles and buy new consoles (and keep doing this). But I am surprised by the lack of character of marketing departments wanting to promise the impossible (real 4K on a console when neither expensive computers can do this)
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Seriously, anyone giving a shit about higher resolution? What I care about is sensible gameplay and fun. You remember fun? Try to put it back into games and I'll bother buying some again.

      Depends on the game. I really like Overwatch, obviously you can play that on pretty much anything and it's rather cartoony. On the other hand, I've always loved the increasingly natural look of the TES games from Morrowind to Skyrim. Oh and you just got old, I'm not doing to pretend that FPS games are worse now than when I played Doom 2. If you go back without the nostalgia glasses many of the games were quite pathetic then too but you were 15 and had different standards. And I really can't sit up all night

    • When MS put out a lower performing console for a higher price, with a very expensive microphone/camera that had a handful of games, with an aimless overall strategy, of course they were snubbed. It's more nuanced than penis length, you're buying into a strategy and ecosystem.

    • I'm excited for hdr gaming.

    • by Megol ( 3135005 )

      There are plenty of fun games out there, it is obvious that you (as the AC below points out) "grown old" and just like to reminisce how the good old days were and how everything now is crap (despite not trying to find the good games available). Yes there are some trends that are irritating if one just want to game - forced tutorials are my favorite hate object - and adding things that seriously impacts immersion* (buy stuff for real money etc.). But are those things really so bad that it removes the fun fro

  • by SolemnLord ( 775377 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @01:18PM (#52932785)

    Meanwhile most console gamers have already picked a side and will probably just upgrade whichever system they've already invested in.

    • I'm still out of this gen. So, I can be swayed. Based on adoption of last gen/this gen, there are a lot of people like me.

      • I was still out of this gen until a few weeks ago. I waited until the "4K" models launched, then bought an original PS4 because I still remember the XBone launch debacle and just how much Microsoft hates its customers.
        • I don't remembr horrible MS behavior around the xbone. I do by Sony with the PS3.

    • Doubt that will have much of an effect.

      I think only the hardcore gamers will be upgrading from their existing PS4/XBOnes. Others may see this as a justification to own both systems. PS3 and XB360 owners don't have a huge justification for sticking to the same brand, except brand loyalty, since the new systems aren't compatible.
    • If you have an Xbox One you might get a PS4 Pro to get access to the other system's library and vice versa

  • Wait so the new PS4 is not actually rendering at 4k, it's just interpolating/upscaling? *sigh*.
    This reminds me of the same dirty tricks TV manufacturers used when HD was the next big deal. Tons of LCD TVs being sold as "HD-ready" and "Blu-Ray compatible" yet their panels had native resolutions much lower than 1080.

    • Most games are going to upscale, but if a less demanding game can be run at true UHD/4K resolutions, Sony will let them.

      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        The way I read it is that the hardware is not actually capable of true 4k.

        • It can definitely run a 2D platformer at 4K. Won't be able to run at the 'same' 4K a AAA title on PC will, there will either be less detail or not 4K. What do you define as 'true' 4K? As you can always come up with something which won't be able to run on any setup, so there must be no true 4K.

          • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

            My definition of true 4k (and I suspect most people's) is something that was rendered at 4k, not rendered at a lower resolution, then scaled/interpolated up. i.e. lossless rather than lossy.

            • As mentioned, this is definitely possible, just depends on if 4k is all you want. If you want pretty then 4k is probably not going to come out of a console, but they will definitely be able to render something at 4k, just not all the things you would probably get at 2k.

              • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

                Not that I like Microsoft, but at least they seem to be saying they will always render at 4k. Maybe its all just cleverer weasel words.

        • Sony's letting developers prioritize what they do with the PS4 Pro's hardware. I strongly doubt any AAA games will be targeting 4K rendering, but who knows. The Pro is definitely capable of rendering in 4K*, though, since Rez Infinite [polygon.com] is already promising exactly that.

          *if we want to split hairs, the current PS4 is theoretically capable of rendering and outputting at 4K, since it supports HDMI 2.0a and isn't a total slouch hardware-wise, but the results wouldn't actually be good.

          • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

            It isn't jsut HDMI 2.0a that you need, the GPU has to be capable of supporting/outputting that resolution. One of the factors involved there is the amount of video memory it has.
            I would be VERY surprised if the current PS4 hardware could output 4K at all.

    • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

      Wait so the new PS4 is not actually rendering at 4k, it's just interpolating/upscaling? *sigh*.

      No, they've got some interesting features with their checkerboard system which allows console developers to upscale certain parts of a game while rendering into a native 4k screen buffer. However, for games that aren't modified/designed to do this, yes, you're going to see up-scaling.

  • My crappy game runs at a higher resolution than your crappy game!

  • by DumbSwede ( 521261 ) <slashdotbin@hotmail.com> on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @01:29PM (#52932913) Homepage Journal

    This seems like a lot of whining from Microsoft considering they marketed the XBOX 360 as a 1080p machine, though almost all the games rendered in 720p (the PS3 had many more games rendering in higher resolutions that generation). Since the PS4 Pro will play 4K video and render at higher than 1080p (then do some extrapolation tricks), I’d say Sony can call it a 4K Box.

    • Microsoft is touting 30fps at 4k. Sure that is doable, but so what if the renderer is using the same number of polygons or turning off environmental effects. The true benefit they can guarantee is that things like menus and web browsing will be a lot clearer.
    • The fact that Scorpio is a year away and the gap between PS4 and Xbox One can only widen until then makes me think that Microsoft did not see this coming, and are boasting now to hope people will wait an entire year to make any console purchasing decisions. That seems highly unrealistic.

      When the 360 was released a year ahead of PS3, Sony was still boasting about the power of the PS3, hoping people would wait. It didn't work, the launched later with a more expensive system and they had to fight the entire ge

  • Not many people have 4k sets, HDR isn't standardized, and by the time things get sorted out and these end up in peoples' homes, the next generation will be upon us and ready to fully exploit 4k. As it is now, both of these consoles will be struggling to do 30fps at 4k, much less 60fps like people want to see.

    These are stop-gap consoles and as such should focus on enhancements that can be appreciated at 1080p like 60fps and additional geometry.

    And I don't think this is the start of a rolling console hardware

    • by Computershack ( 1143409 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @01:42PM (#52933039)

      Not many people have 4k sets, HDR isn't standardized, and by the time things get sorted out and these end up in peoples' homes, the next generation will be upon us and ready to fully exploit 4k.

      4K TVs are outselling 1080p ones. HDR may not be standardised but from a console perspective once it has been it can be resolved by a simple firmware update.

      • Doesn't matter if 4K TVs are outselling HD ones, most people aren't buying new TVs. It will take at least 5 years before they are common in people's homes.

      • Yes but that is because everyone already has an HDTV so sales slowed for that. Just because 4k is outpacing 1080p doesn't mean they're necessarily finding their way into many homes, or even gamers' bedrooms. We'll see what happens, this is just my opinion.

      • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

        4K TVs are outselling 1080p ones.

        I've been at a few electronics shops recently, none of them even had 4K televisions here, I saw one UHD at best?

    • I thought what triggered this stopgap upgrade was VR, not 4k. Best case scenario, the more powerful console offers moar pretties for everyone.

      - For people with 1080p screens, they get 60 fps and a few more effects on the same games that will also run on the older console.
      - For people with 4k screens, they get a marginal 30 fps but near 4k rendering on the same games that will also run on the older console.
      - For people with VR headsets, they can play the same game in VR at 1080p 60fps but with more of a fee

      • No, because the PS4/XO still must run every title that PS4 Pro / Scorpio will run, including VR. So VR is still hamstrung by the old hardware. But then this supposes VR will sell systems. No, because there are no games. We are not seeing weekly reviews of amazing VR games, not even monthly. I believe VR will hit its stride much later, now is only a gimmick. VR needs to find its killer apps.

        • Maybe. I don't see how that's going to work. Sony may have to change their policy if they are confronted with the technical reality that no one has a decent looking VR game that can run on the original PS4.

          As for VR being a gimmick - sure. A nasty chicken and egg problem. VR games have the potential to be incredible but since the hardware is so expensive very few people have bought headsets. That in turn means that there's not enough market to make a 50 million dollar game with heavy VR support. Also,

    • by TheSync ( 5291 )

      HDR isn't standardized

      Please see ITU-R Rec. BT.2100 [itu.int] "Image parameter values for high dynamic range television for use in production and international programme exchange".

  • Are there going to be enough people out there with 4k systems to take advantage? I just installed a projector in my basement on a 135" screen, at 1080p I think it looks pretty darn good even on such a large screen. I'm sure 4k would look amazing but I'm not going to spend that much on a 1st generation 4k projector. I'm not sure there'd be a significant difference upgrading our 50" 1080p tv to 4k.

    This might be a big deal in 5 or 6 years when very large 4k displays are more common.. just don't think the
    • Are there going to be enough people out there with 4k systems to take advantage?

      I don't think so, but I haven't studied the numbers close enough to say one way or another...

      I will say that 4k came too quickly after 1080p for me, and I'm the kind of person who they are targeting, since I have disposable income and a house big enough to use a 4k screen.

      I currently have a 70" Sony 1080p TV, very nice home theater setup... I'm not feeling any reason to go to 4k, and yes, I know what 4k looks like, I just don't care...

      It requires spending a ton of money that I can spend somewhere else, cha

      • I don't know, Sony's new 100 inch Z series that they had on display at CEDIA was pretty sweet. $60k, but pretty sweet none the less. Seriously though, at normal screen sizes, I'm with you. There's not a huge leap in quality by simply changing from 1080 to 4k. However, what the 1080p TV's don't have is HDR, which to me is far more important than the resolution increase.
        • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

          What prevents manufacturers from implementing HDR on 1080p?

          • Nothing really, other than being "in spec" as the 1080p spec doesn't include things like Wide Color Gamut. HDR also requires HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2 (sort of, my understanding is that the Dolby Vision type of HDR doesn't). It's all done in software save for a Dolby chip (think betamax vs VCR) offering that all of the MFGs I talked to at CEDIA aren't interested in.

            The long and short of it is that there is no incentive to do so. A 1080p TV that they broke all sorts of spec on to make HDR would cost every bit a
    • Don't confuse the public's ability to tell the difference from their desires. Most people still feel safe with the TSA screening process, even though it's not really any better than before 9/11 - heck, the even demand "tighter" security. Look at all the shitty 4k TVs out there running 4:2:0, but everybody's proud of their "4k" TV they're watching.

    • Are there going to be enough people out there with 4k systems to take advantage?

      The same argument was being done when HD came out. But that's not how this kind of progress works.

  • Unless they are talking about 2D rendering or 4K video, I doubt a console that is basically an x86 computer can do much better than computers twice or thrice the price of a console.

    Why don't they focus on 1080p@60fps?

  • 4K is useless. The next step for gaming and entertainment is VR (or AR). But for usable VR, which we don't have yet, the display needs to render 3D graphics 6K at 120 fps. Current VR technology (Oculus Rift/HTC Vive) is at 2K at 90fps. Anyway .. my point is that Scorpio which comes out next year is at the minimum even for todays technology, so it's just an incremental update to the Xbox that may be slightly sub par even for today's high end gaming. If we are to have true vomit-free VR, headsets need to inco

  • by Ryanrule ( 1657199 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @01:59PM (#52933157)
    The sony console cant play 4k blurays. INSTANT PASS. and ive been ps since the ps2 (dvd). and the ps3 (bluray)
    • Me, I couldn't care less about this. Whenever I upgrade to 4K, I'll upgrade to a standalone 4K Blu-Ray player. Why would I want to waste the limited hardware life of my console on playing Blu-Rays (not to mention the extra power consumed by a console, rather than a low-power standalone player) on something completely passive like watching movies or TV shows? Answer: I wouldn't, and you're a fool if you do.
    • by donaldm ( 919619 )

      The sony console cant play 4k blurays. INSTANT PASS. and ive been ps since the ps2 (dvd). and the ps3 (bluray)

      Ah! you must be a videophile who does not mind paying a premium for a 4K disk.

      I purchased a PS3 day one and in that time I have rarely played a Bluray or even a DVD movie on it since I actually purchased the PS3 too, well play games on it. The odd movie (including 3D) was just icing on the cake. It also still works and I still play or should I say replay the odd game on it.

      Fast forward to when I purchased a PS4. I have never played a Bluray movie on it I mainly use the Bluray player to load games othe

  • True 4K = 4096 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Misagon ( 1135 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @02:01PM (#52933169)

    None of these consoles is actually 4K.

    The term "4K" is originally the name of a cinema standard, which has 4096*2160 pixels.
    A 4K image is either 4096 pixels wide or 2160 pixels high (or both), but a 4K screen must have the full 4096*2160 to be compliant to the standard.

    The television standard's real name is "Ultra High Definition", abbreviated as "Ultra-HD" or "UHD". It is only 3840*2160.
    Some 4K images do fit inside that, but not all. A UHD screen is therefore not a 4K screen.

    A "4K TV" is just a marketing term to sell UHD TVs, because it is in the "same order of magnitude as 4K" or "about the same as 4K".

    Real 4K monitors do exist, but they are often very expensive, and they also tend to have better support for the colour space in the cinema standard.
    The only somewhat affordable screen I know of that is 4096 pixels wide is the one inside of the late 2015 21.5" Apple iMac, at 4096*2304 pixels. It even has support for cinema colour space.

  • PCs don't have problems rendering 4k if you leave everything at normal settings. Sure, if you want to set everything to "insane" levels then that's what you're going to get... insanely low fps. Consoles will have an easier time because they know the capabilities of the hardware and will just use the settings that deliver acceptable frame rates. What would be nice though would be an option in all console games to set "1080p or 4k" along with a target frame rate of "30 fps or 60 fps"
  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @02:07PM (#52933229)

    But call me when you can render a moving scene in 4K VIDEO at a minimum of 40 FPS with varying lighting sources and textures that make use of that resolution. Doing all this while keeping up with the necessary game play and physics modeling to make what I'm seeing somewhat realistic....

    /sarc off

    Seriously, who cares what the physical hardware is capable of displaying in some static test image, it's about being able to model the game play realistic enough and fast enough to be believable while showing a related visual representation of the same without having the user's subconscious be nagging them that something's not right... So where it is obviously better to have higher resolution, if you don't have the ability to use that resolution though lack of horse power, memory bandwidth etc, it doesn't matter.

    Comparing raw video resolution is a fools game. It's all for marketing. Sort of like the idiots who somehow claim they can actually hear the difference between 0.1 and 0.01 % THD in their home stereos... Looks good on paper, but you might as well start a fire with that marketing brochure.

  • Are gamers asking for 4K? If not, what are they asking for?

    Personally, I want:
    * 60fps and up
    * Better motion control

    The motion control era died when Nintendo made the Wii U and Microsoft released the Kinect. Both were essentially inferior, more costly versions of what came before them. That's too bad, because I was excitedly waiting for the next generation and it never came. But I think I'm in the minority on this.

  • Maybe what ms is saying is correct, but can the end user tell the difference?
    If he can't, it doesn't matter.

    More powerful hardware is really only useful to the devs, and then, only if they make use of the increased capabilities, since it's only by the software that such things are made apparent. Otherwise it's just a big black box of pixie dust and unicorn horns.

    Of course, even if all that they're saying is true, if it doesn't have the games you want to play, it's not worth jack!
    • by TheSync ( 5291 )

      If you are not sitting within 1.5 picture heights of the screen, you won't see the 4K detail anyway.

      This means if you hold your arm outstretched, make a fist but leave your thumb up, your need to be able to fit you palm/thumb twice into the angle subtended by the screen.

  • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Wednesday September 21, 2016 @02:32PM (#52933449)

    This reminds me of other kids arguing over whether the TurboGrafx 16 was a 'real' 16-bit console or not. Turns out the '16' was only a part of the American name, it was called the PC Engine in Japan and France, and the TurboGrafx elsewhere.

  • Don't you guys remember them having this argument already once? Neither of them even have current consoles capable of doing that at 1080p in all games. What makes anyone think either of them will be capable of actually doing it at 4k? Buy a Nintendo ffs. Ignore these goons.

  • nither one does....

    if it is not a full 4096X2160 at 60hz it is NOT 4K

    i am tired of the bullshitting of these device makers lying about their 4K support

  • Spoilers -- both consoles fall short of 4k. 4k require's 300% more GPU power to provide 300% more pixels than 1080p. Say goodbye to Anti Aliasing and hello to choppy objects. Spoilers Alert #2 - Max GPU power isn't the golden star selling point it used to be in 2004.
  • I'm happy to get 1080p with 60fps to my 4K TV and just let it do the scaling. Looks pretty flipping good IMHO. Heck, I've given up the idea of buying UHD Blu ray because the TV is only 55" and from where I sit an upscaled BD looks excellent so I'll pass until I upgrade my projector from the current 1080p to 4 or even 8K in another five years or so. For now, just getting a console to do full HD without it stuttering is more than enough and these 4K upgraded versions are just a fudge. I don't need a scaler in

  • So, what is their plan about the awful input lag a lot of televisions do at the proposed 4k/HDR mode they're pushing?

  • Microsoft is making a valid point why people should not buy any XBOX units until Scorpio because that upcoming model is going to be much better than the XBOX of today. This is the same philosophy that appeals to people who want to wait many years to get the next best thing... not a major portion of the buying public this Holiday season.

    Sony is saying that what they have today is better than what they had last year and they think it's great.

    Despite the marketing, when you're playing the games, you're not co

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