The demo images of Unreal Engine 5 released yesterday by Epic Games will get all the attention for some time. Not only is it a demonstration of truly impressive next-generation visuals, like the first images that Wccftech saw confirmed as being made on Sony's PlayStation 5, but it also displayed some genuinely impressive new technologies.
Fortunately, Epic didn't just show the demo and then retreated to a hiding place or something. Some of the top engineers, including founder Tim Sweeney, appeared in an interview with Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry to discuss what was shown in detail.
Wccftech starts with the question that will be on most readers' minds: what was the rendering solution for the Unreal Engine 5 demo on PS5? According to vice president of engineering Nick Penwarden, it was 1440P most of the time.
Interestingly, it also works very well with the dynamic resolution technique. So, when the GPU load gets high, you can lower the screen resolution a little and then adapt to it. In the Unreal Engine 5 demo, in fact, dynamic resolution is used, although it is rendered at around 1440p most of the time.
Last but not least, the Unreal Engine 5 demo featured a new fully dynamic global lighting called Lumen, which promises to react immediately to scene changes and provide extremely accurate indirect lighting and reflections, in a scale from kilometers to millimeters.
CTO Kim Libreri explained that the secret here is really in the temporal accumulation component. Temporal accumulation – more than just normal temporal anti-aliasing – is a big part of how we are able to make things look good.
Global lighting, without a temporal intelligence, there is still no way to do it in hardware. In fact, we are evolving in understanding how the storm can help us, and there have been many improvements in quality because of a temporal component.
It is in this way that we get close to film rendering – without samples (and they are not necessarily purely samples of screen space, there are many things you can do to temporarily accumulate), the GI would not work as well. Interestingly, although Epic confirmed to Digital Foundry that there will be support for hardware tracking on the engine, it was not featured in this debut demo of Unreal Engine 5. Even without ´raytracing´, it certainly offered us a sample of the graphics from the next generation, although the application of these techniques in real games may still take a while.
However, we will continue to monitor and report the latest developments in graphic technology. Where does that leave the PC platform, especially after Tim Sweeney's claims that the PS5 storage architecture is "way ahead of anything on PCs"?
However, PC Gamer has already received news from Epic's technical director that even an RTX 2070 Super will be able to run the Unreal Engine 5 demo with ‘very good performance’. Technically, the NVIDIA graphics card still has a lower TFLOPS value than the PS5 (9 x 10.28), which is great news. Tim Sweeney revealed this in the statement to Digital Foundry, pointing to PC SSDs, which can also offer “impressive” performance.
You need several different components to render with that level of detail, right? One is the performance of the GPU and the architecture of the GPU to draw an incredible amount of geometry – a very large number of teraflops required for this. The other is the ability to carry and transmit efficiently.
One of the great efforts that are being made and running with Unreal Engine 5, is the optimization of the storage of the next generation, to accelerate the loading in the current performance. Not just a little faster, but also much faster, so that we can benefit from this geometry and display it, even though not all the assembly and memory, take advantage of the next generation SSD architectures and everything… Sony is a pioneer here with the PlayStation 5 architecture.
Microsoft has a higher-level storage system, way ahead of PCs. On a high-end PC with an SSD and especially with NVMe, we also get incredible performance. In fact, Sweeney confirmed that the main features will be available on all next generation platforms. It is a polygon micro geometry with Nanite technology and GI in real time with Lumen.
The availability of PS5 consoles will initially be quite limited due to the high price of rendering everything that the view achieves. According to the founder of Epic, this is really the realization of a concept that goes back decades ago. The philosophy behind this goes back to the 1980s with the idea of ´REYES´: ´Render Everything Your Eye Sees´, render everything your eye sees.
It is a funny acronym, which means that, given the essentially infinite details available, it is the job of the engine to determine exactly which pixels need to be drawn to display them. That does not mean drawing all 10 billion polygons on each screen, because some of them are much, much smaller than the pixel.
It means being able to render, without losing any detail, as soon as it reaches that point, the geometry ends. There is nothing more you can do. And if we rendered more polygons, we wouldn't notice, because they contribute infinitely to each pixel on the screen.
Throughout the impressive demonstration of Unreal Engine 5, ‘hundreds of billions of polygons’ were exhibited according to Epic. What is the secret of Nanite technology? Nick Penwarden, with a brief but surprisingly clear explanation, “I suppose the secret is that what Nanite wants to do is, effectively render one triangle per pixel; so, when we get to that level of detail, the type of changes in the LOD (Level of Detail) will be imperceptible. ”
Essentially, game producers will be able to import high quality assets, such as source art, with film quality, into Unreal Engine 5 and then Nanite will take care of streaming and scaling everything in real time, without loss noticeable quality. It gets even better, as studios don't have to manually adjust the LOD (Level of Detail), manage polygon budgets / drawing counts, or anything like that, saving valuable development time. The same assets will not even need to be redone for the game to be transported to the platforms of the current generation – everything will be managed by the engine.