We have already started to hear about Microsoft and Sony's plans for the next generation of console hardware. Microsoft is rumored to work on a variety of devices, with two new variants of the current Xbox One with cloud streaming features, as well as a couple of new devices for Xbox Next. The rumor we are dealing with today applies to these latter units (the two new consoles are allegedly Anaconda (high-end) and Lockhart (budget).)
GamingBolt recently spoke to game industry analyst Michael Pachter, who had what I can only call one interesting take on what next generation consoles might be capable of.
I expect a dumbed down console, like the steam console, where there is only download, and there is no hard drive or floppy drive, "Pachter told GamingBolt "So I think it will be a streaming device, like a $ 100 Xbox console that doesn't go at 4K or 240 frames per second. And then I think it would be a more expensive $ 400 console that supports 4K, 240 FPS, Virtual Reality I don't know if there will be "models." I don't think you're going to get completely different devices.
If Microsoft launches an Xbox Next capable 4K at 240 fps with Virtual reality on top for $ 400, I will print a copy of This aren ticle and eat it on YouTube. The problem with this quote is that it is completely nonsensical. If we treat the statements about the ability as independent clauses, we are left with a high-end console targeting 4K (a given, Xbox One X already does this). The question of VR support is an interesting one, and we are curious about how Xbox Next will implement it. Splitting VR between Anaconda and Lockhart can damage total recordings at a time when virtual reality hardly needs further barriers between it and the public. Honestly, I'm still not sure if MS is willing to make a huge effort on VR for its next consoles or not.
This leaves the infinity of a 240fps frame rate and security that no, next-gen consoles will not deliver this performance while maintaining something that expected the next generation of visuals. There are several reasons why.
Firstly, there has been no need to jump into energy efficiency that would make 240fps a possible frame rate target. If you want 240 fps in 4K and you want a living room console that doesn't sound like a jet turbine, you have to keep the power below 200W. To hit 240fps in 150W, you must be able to draw each frame for approx. 0,625W. It is at least an order of magnitude that is more efficient than today's GPUs can handle. 7nm just won't bring those kind of improvements. If AMD or Nvidia could build a 240fps 4K GPU for any amount of money, they would sell the dang, not fill it in a $ 400 console.
Now you can ask, "What about cloud gaming?" In theory, if MS had servers and rack space to indulge in crazy game reproduction, could we not overlook the boundaries of poor living rooms and human ears? The answer is literally "yes", but it buys you much less than you might expect. A game running at 240 fps must deliver a new frame every 4.1ms. It doesn't give much time for cross-country skiing.
In fact, the simplest answer to "Why can't we play games at arbitrarily high frame prices," would be "Because the fastest thing you want to run things, the harder it is to keep them all in sync." A 30fps game is updated each 33.3ms. A game running at 60 fps delivers a new animation frame every 16.6ms. A 240fps game has to deliver a new 4.1 ms frame, which means it must complete the same amount of work at about a quarter of the time compared to 60 fps.
It is not even clear what the point of such a frame press would be. It's not like someone has a 240Hz TV with a true refresh rate as fast. VR does not require it. The levels of detail you have to be willing to accept to make that kind of frame rate can be compared favorably with original Xbox games, but you don't push 4K and modern 240fps details into a console or a PC. Although manufacturers could hit the limits, they would be better off locking in at 60 fps and using extra horsepower to do other types of work – and we don't expect MS and Sony to necessarily target even 60fps. It would make headlines if they did. 30fps has often been the target, and while the introduction of Xbox One X and PS4 Pro has given console players a taste of faster games at 1080p, it would be important for the two companies to bring their baseline targets up to 4K @ 60fps.
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