Epic Games today demoed a beautiful showcase of the Unreal Engine 5, running on the Sony PlayStation 5. While it looked gorgeous with a ton of new technologies powering the visual, it highlighted one core point: The next-gen consoles are going to be all about efficiency and render optimizations. Not all games will run at 4K, and even fewer will run at 4K 60 FPS. However, those that do, will be only able to achieve the feat using newer rendering techniques such as VRS (variable-rate shading), temporal filtering, dynamic rendering, and AI-based upscaling techniques.
This is exactly what VP of Engineering, Nick Penwarden said in a recent inteview:
Interestingly, it does work very well with our dynamic resolution technique as well. So, when GPU load gets high we can lower the screen resolution a bit, and then we can adapt to that. In the Unreal Engine 5 demo, we actually did use dynamic resolution, although it ends up rendering at about 1440p most of the time.
Note the last part, where he says that the Unreal Engine 5 leverages dynamic rendering with 1440p being the average resolution most of the time. This is in-line with the recent Assassins’ Creed Valhalla demo which ran at 4K 30FPS. Neither could come close to 4K 60 FPS, so as a result, the former decided to go with better visual quality while the latter opted for performance.
Further, Epic CTO, Kim Libreri said the following:
Temporal accumulation, you know – more than just normal temporal anti-aliasing – it’s is a huge part of how we’re able to make things look as good as this. The global illumination, without a temporal intelligence, there’s no way you could do it on hardware yet. We’re actually doubling down on the understanding of how temporal can help us, and there’s been so many huge improvements in quality because of having a temporal component. It’s the way that we get close to movie rendering – without those samples (and they’re not just necessarily pure screen-space samples, there’s loads of things you can do to temporally accumulate), the GI would not work anywhere near as well as it does without it.
The Unreal Engine 5 actively uses temporal accumulation to improves performance. This is very similar to how NVIDIA’s DLSS 2.0 works. Temporal accumulation uses data from neighboring frames to fill in the gaps without rendering the entire frame or by rendering select effects or parts.
PC games don’t have anything to worry about. NVIDIA’s RTX 20 series graphics cards already support all these technologies, including hardware-level ray-tracing, DLSS 2.0 (AI upscaling), VRS as well as temporal filtering and mesh shading. A GeForce RTX 2070 Super or 2080 should be more or less on par with the next-gen consoles. Considering that we’ll have both the Navi 2x GPUs as well as the RTX 30 series “Ampere” GPUs by then, it’ll be safe to say that the upcoming consoles will once again be comparable to the mid-range consumer GPUs such as the RTX 3060 or the RX 6700.