1 September 2020

Analyse This: Next Generation PC gaming... [UPDATED 04-Sep-2020]

Nvidia's much-anticipated event has literally just wrapped up and there's actually not too much to parse in terms of reveals. The big one - no increase in release price - is, for me, the primary shocker. I think it's great... but at the same time, we're still talking RTX 20 series levels of pricing... but I find it hard to complain about getting the performance we really deserved with the 20 series for the price increase. Let's not forget, graphics hardware releases are slowing considerably and what was once a 50% performance increase over 2 years has now become a 70-80% performance increase over 4 years, at an increased price point.

But lets put that behind us and just jump in and have a poke around the reveal...

21 August 2020

Analyse This: The Next Gen Consoles (Part 11)...


We've been mostly sweltering in hot weather these last few weeks and, as such, the appropriately named Hotchips has come and gone and the promised Xbox Series X architecture presentation has given us a peek into the inner workings of the console. However, that's not the only source of new information for us to analyse. We've got a short promo for "the new Xbox experience" and speculation on the Series S' configuration and GPU performance to go through too!

This post might be a little dense. But let's see what we can assemble from this morass of information...

25 July 2020

The limiting factors for the next generation of hardware...

Recently, I've become a bit numb with all the leaks and predictions, stats, and manoeuvrings of the companies in the industry, trying to one-up each other, provide counter-intelligence and increase mindshare. We're in the middle of a storm that I cannot remember being so intense since the end of the 90s or very early 2000s... and even then not in every gaming sector and not in various hardware "genres".

However, what has been slowly coalescing in my mind are what *I* think are the limitations we're going to run into over the next couple of years.

13 July 2020

Next Gen game PC hardware requirements... (Part 2 - looking toward the future)

Last time, I went over a list of hand-picked games that were released over the last ten years, compiling the recommended system requirements and averaging the performance required of an average gaming PC (for playing more demanding games) per year and also compared the requirements of those theoretical PCs to the then-current most technically capable console hardware*.
*That was the final graph in the summary. Don't worry, I'm going to go over it again.
This time, as promised, I want to try to make predictions about where the "average" PC will need to be in terms of performance per year for the next five years.

5 July 2020

Next Gen game PC hardware requirements... (Part 1 - looking at the past)

We are on the cusp of a new generation of consoles and alongside that we also have major hardware releases that tout generational* improvements in performance from AMD and NVidia. Other outlets have had a crack at trying to predict where the PC gaming space is going to go and I've pontificated before about the required hardware for a relatively future-proof gaming PC but I wanted to take a deeper, more data-driven look at the console/PC relationship so let's take a look into the past and see if that might inform us on future trends...
*Human generation, not technological generation

28 June 2020

Microsoft's gamble with the (rumoured) Series S... (An argument against)

The rumours of the Xbox Series S just keep on keeping on... but there's still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the console. No, I'm not talking about the hardware makeup of this design, I'm speaking about the market proposition and the potential cost to Microsoft for releasing such a console.

21 June 2020

Predictions for the Series S...

There are quite a few rumours beginning to circulate over Microsoft's July event. Some of them even apply to the fabled "Series S" console. I had tried to predict what the hardware makeup of SX and PS5 would be so I figured I may as well try my hat at predicting what will be the makeup of the SS. (Oh, and by the way, some of the things I had predicted for a "next gen console" may appear to be present in the PS5... if certain rumours are true.)

12 June 2020

My take on the PS5 Reveal...

Last night we had the first consumer-focussed PS5 event. Games were shown and the physical console hardware was finally revealed as well. Now, there's many takes going around on the internet - a lot of hyperbole and very little grounded discussion. Maybe I can provide some of that? I don't know. I just know that my personal opinions are not being reflected by the media and personalities I usually follow.

So let's get into it...

6 June 2020

How SSDs might really change gaming...

People keep saying that SSDs are going to change the way we play games now that they're on the next generation of consoles. Some people say that the PS5's increased bandwidth derived from the 12 channel PCIe Gen 4 SSD will lead to even better performance than the Series X's more traditional 8 channel PCIe Gen 3/4* SSD. However, we've had this sort** of performance available in the PC sphere for a number of years now. So what should we be expecting when developers haven't even been bothered to utilise the "awesome" power of the storage medium?

*I'm saying 3/4 because it's not clear from the actual performance numbers (2-3 GB/s is achievable by Gen 3 SSDs...)
**On the same order of magnitude, maybe not the same amount of IOPs 

Let's take a look...

22 May 2020

Budget high-tier CPUs?! 3750X &3850X rumours... [UPDATED]

People were really amazed and surprised by AMD's release of the 3100 and 3300X 4/8 C/T processors recently. However, these two processors, powered by Zen 2 chiplets really caught the imagination and passion of enthusiasts and tech reviewers alike for their value to performance ratio. 

In fact, those two processors, are currently "out of stock" across various etailers, or have huge mark-ups on their (M)RRP from third party sellers... and, the processor can't even be found in some territories!

Which leads me to one conclusion - these were limited clearance stock.

16 May 2020

Unreal Engine 5 demo and misconceptions...

There's been quite a few articles covering how HDDs simply can't keep up with the moment-to-moment streaming enabled by the PS5 and SX. But, again this really misses the point of PCs - PCs are engines of brute force. Consoles are beasts that are designed to streamline and work past limitations through optimisation. Yes, the next gen consoles are generally much more powerful than the average PC out there right now but they are still highly optimised pieces of hardware because they are static and will quickly be outclassed by new PC technologies appearing on the near-term horizon.

Yes, the rate of improvement of CPUs and GPUs is quite phenomenal at this point in time!

This is all self-evident, but why am I writing another post so close to the previous one when I'm covering much of the same ground? Well, that's because the Unreal Engine 5 tech demo was released, running on PS5, alongside an interview with key personnel at EPIC Games and there is, as far as I understand things, one primary misconception being repeated over and over again. To paraphrase:
You can't fit all of this detail in the scene into memory on a PC - it's not possible.
This is, at best, a misunderstanding of nomenclature... at worst, it's a lie.

15 May 2020

Are current PCs unable to keep up with the Next Gen consoles? Answer: Yes, sort of...

Photo by Marco Verch, Creative Commons 2.0 License
Last time I mentioned in passing how the consoles will be affecting current owners of PCs. I also touched on that subject when I was discussing my relatively newly-built PC. I generally don't feel that current owners of mid-to-high-end PCs have that much to worry about but it appears that this is not a commonly held belief.

So let's get into that!

14 May 2020

Late to the party: B550...

So by now, you've all read the kerfuffle surrounding the B550 announcements. I was quite annoyed at first but I'm more resigned about the situation now. In this post I'm going to go over why I felt that way and why, although I understand the technical limitations at issue, I do not agree with the way this has all been handled.

7 May 2020

Untitled hardware post...

Since there's not much going on with tech at the moment (although I do have a short post in the works regarding RDNA 2 rumoured die sizes) I thought I'd shift gears to a general hardware post.

11 April 2020

Analyse This: The Next Gen Consoles (Part 10) - Comments

Last time I got some quite in-depth comments that required a long response. I figured that I'd give a proper blogpost over to the answers... so, to cover everything from Pete, MetalSpirit and LateToTheParty:

7 April 2020

Analyse This: The Next Gen Consoles (Part 10)

Last time I took quite a deep look into a complicated subsystem of the next gen consoles. There were some items which were either taken out of context by the press or completely misunderstood. No one is perfect - not even me - and I'm always up for a debate on whether a particular idea or understanding is correct so I wanted to take the time to address some of the more important misconceptions and also address general misconceptions about the future consoles that I'm seeing in the press and on youtube.

28 March 2020

Analyse This: The Next Gen Consoles (Part 9) [UPDATED]

So, the Xbox Series X is mostly unveiled at this point, with only some questions regarding audio implementation and underlying graphics architecture remaining. The PS5 is partly unveiled with questions surrounding physical makeup and operating system "costs". I want to place a caveat here that these are very complicated technical discussions - I'm not an expert and it's possible I've misunderstood something but, where possible, I take my information from multiple sources and viewpoints in order to understand a problem from both a top-down and bottom-up approach - something that I think you can see in my meanderings.

Let's take a look at what each system has confirmed and how those specs may effect the user experience...

22 March 2020

Analyse This: The Next Gen Consoles (Part 8)... How the predictions stacked up...

So, yesterday, SONY surprise revealed some of the PS5 specifications - a couple of days after Microsoft surprise revealed a tonne of information about the Xbox Series X. While I won't summarise the information (you can find that elsewhere), I am going to do some navel-gazing and take a look back at my predictions and see how they square against the released information and in the next article think about how this all comes together in comparing the two consoles. So feel free to skip this blogpost!

11 March 2020

Analyse This: Performance VS Processing power... (I was wrong!)

The Xbox Series X SoC in all its glory...
This post has been in the works since I last posted and in response to certain comentators on the merits and accuracy of that post. I'll get around to the full Xbox Series X and PS5 reveals this week but for now, let me indulge in a bit of naval gazing and shoulder shrugging...

Recently, I had a certain post about the potential CPU performance of the Xbox One Series X, based upon statements issued from the official Xbox news blog. This, of course, caused some waves. Many people were unhappy with the theoretical performance of the proposed CPU - despite the fact that it would be incredibly performant by any console standard - i.e. it would be the most powerful CPU ever to be placed into a console form-factor! This is not a "weak" CPU and the Ryzen 5 1600 AF is not a weak CPU (though not what we'd be getting!) and an underclocked 4800H would also not be a weak CPU...

The second most common refrain was from people saying that 4x the processing power correlates with 2x clock speed, combined with 2x the number of processing threads. This argument is flawed on several levels but, aside from that it's nonsense. Here's why:

25 February 2020

Analyse This: The Next Gen Consoles (Part 7) [UPDATED]

Within yesterday's information release from Microsoft had one final tidbit of information that I didn't address and that was the allusion to the fact that the Xbox Series X is four times as powerful, in terms of CPU power, as the Xbox One:
"Delivering four times the processing power of an Xbox One and enabling developers to leverage 12 TFLOPS of GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) performance – twice that of an Xbox One X and more than eight times the original Xbox One."

Yes, it isn't specifically stated that this is the CPU improvement but by a process of elimination (4x GPU performance is below the One X TFLOPS value) it appears to refer to CPU processing power. So what, exactly, does this mean and how does it fit into the information we have for current Ryzen APU offerings?

24 February 2020

Analyse This: The Next Gen Consoles (Part 6)

So, as we head further into the year with worries surrounding the spread and control of the COVID-19 variant of coronavirus as a backdrop to the convoluted next generation console battle that is playing out between Microsoft and SONY. I mentioned previously that it looked like Microsoft were working towards an earlier release date than SONY and whilst that's still the case, potential (and almost guaranteed) supply shortages for components and final console builds are likely to play a part in both companies' plans.

However, time marches on and waits for no one... so Microsoft have issued a low-key article on their Xbox website that details pretty much all the "confirmed" leaked information that has been circulating over the last two months. So let's have a look at it....

23 January 2020

Analyse This: Next Gen Consoles (Part 5)

Last time I wrote about the possibility of the next gen consoles utilising the latest NVMe PCIe Gen 4 SSD controllers from Phison and SMI. There's an update to this rumour taken from the work profile of an ex-employee of Phison where the person mentions that they worked on the project team that were designing the controller that would be used in the Xbox Series X (labelled as Xbox Scarlett by the engineer). The controller in question is, according to the profile, the PS5019-E19. Unfortunately, this is a bit disappointing.

15 January 2020

Analyse This: Next Gen Consoles (Part 4)

It seems there has been a couple of further developments over the last few days for next gen console news. First off, Digitmes reported that both Phison and Silicon Motion Technology (confusingly, SMI) are both linked to the next generation consoles. Secondly, there was a leaked estimate of the relative size of the PS5 die size compared to the Xbox SX.

I had noted previously that I didn't believe that current write and read speeds were adequate for the types of experiences hinted at by SONY and Microsoft... well it appears that I missed this article from Anandtech and this article from TweakTown where Phison reports their E18 controller can do 7.0 GB/s sequential writes and 1 million 4 KB random IOPS and SMI can do 6.5 GB/s sequential writes with 0.7 million IOPS (I presume they're also using a standard 4 KB package size).

10 January 2020

Analyse This: The Next Gen Consoles (Part 3) (UPDATED)

CES is here and we were almost losing our collective minds over "will they or won't they" commentary regarding peeps from the next generation of consoles. Of course, there were/are no reveals. However, there are some interesting tidbits regarding AMD's platforms which could provide some further insight to the nature of the CPU/GPU (or APU) inside the consoles from Microsoft and SONY.

9 January 2020

The End of an Era...

There are few items of PC paraphernalia that you don't replace or fiddle with very often. Sure, you can keep a PC for 4-5 years without having to mess around with internal components and, with some luck, you can potentially get away with only messing around with a GPU upgrade in the 6-10 year period. I've never been that lucky and there have been component upgrades or replacements due to wear and tear over the last 10 years. However, I have been using the same mouse during that period.

Now its time is up...