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Xbox One developers offered heavy cloud resources

Xbox One developers offered heavy cloud resources

Microsoft is making much of the Xbox One's cloud computing capabilities, promising to quadruple its performance using the Azure platform.

Microsoft has suggested that its Xbox One console will make heavy use of cloud computing technology, with claims that for every single console sold there will be three times as much computing power made available through the company's Azure platform.

Dan Greenawalt. creative director at Forza Motorsport creator Xbox Turn 10 Studios, spoke during an Xbox One-related roundtable to state that Microsoft's next-generation games console will be tying in to the company's Azure cloud computing platform in order to boost its performance above and beyond that offered by its AMD accelerated processing unit (APU) heart. 'It’s not just that [the Xbox One is] more powerful, it’s also connected. It's connected to the cloud and this gives us as creators the ability to offload some of the processing that we would use,' claimed Greenawalt. 'So we can move things: Physics. AI. Worlds. We can move incredible rendering capabilities to the cloud, and that means this box is going to evolve. So this is a radically different way that we think about how we work as creators on a box.'

While Microsoft made a last-minute decision to remove a digital rights management (DRM) implementation that would require an Xbox One to be permanently connected to Microsoft's servers in order to play even single-player titles, downgrading the requirement to a single connection to the servers per 24 hour period, Greenawalt's comment suggests that always-on internet may still be a requirement of the console. With Microsoft making Azure cloud computing resources available to Xbox One consoles, developers using these resources to boost the performance of the console - in order to render more realistic physics, more complex graphics, better AI or just larger levels - will obviously need to remain connected to the servers at all times during gameplay.

If that sounds familiar, you're likely remembering Electronic Arts' claims that its SimCity reboot used remote server processing to handle complex artificial intelligence and other resource-intensive game features. That requirement was used as justification for an always-on internet connection requirement, but has since been proven false with modified versions of the game - tweaked only to remove the enforced exiting of the game when the servers cannot be contacted - running absolutely fine without a server connection.

Boyd Multerer, partner director of development at Microsoft's Xbox division, confirmed Greenawalt's claims. 'Next gen isn’t just about having lots of transistors local, it’s also about having transistors in the cloud,' claimed Multerer. 'Now you start throwing in servers that are just one hop away and that can you can start doing things like…you look at a game and there’s latency-sensitive load and there’s latency insensitive loads. Let’s start moving those insensitive loads off to the cloud, freeing up local resources and effectively over time your box gets more and more powerful. This is completely unlike previous generations.'

These comments follow those made by Microsoft's Jeff Henshaw in an interview with Official Xbox Magazine, in which it was claimed that each Xbox One console will have access to cloud computing resources equivalent to three times its local compute performance. 'For every physical Xbox One we build, we're provisioning the CPU and storage equivalent of three Xbox Ones on the cloud,' said Henshaw. 'We're doing that flat out so that any game developer can assume that there's roughly three times the resources immediately available to their game, so they can build bigger, persistent levels that are more inclusive for players.'

Discussing the round-table, Microsoft's corporate vice president of communications Frank X. Shaw stated that his employer is planning to push its cloud integration heavily on all its future products. 'No static at all,' he wrote. 'Not for our business customers. Not for entertainment. Not for gamers. Not for game developers. And certainly not for Microsoft as our business expands into the cloud. Pinch me.'

Details of how the cloud computing offload capabilties of the Xbox One will operate, the bandwidth requirements at the client end, how publishers will be making use of the technology and - most importantly - how the system handles server outages or other disconnections have yet to be shared by the company, with more details likely to be forthcoming at the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) next month.

21 Comments

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Material 28th May 2013, 10:57 Quote
Hmmm. Sounds like a boon initially, but in practice it could be a problem. Net outages or someone at your end hogging the line with a download could mean that your Xbox game doesn't work as planned. Tiresome.
GeorgeStorm 28th May 2013, 10:59 Quote
If anything this could be worse than always on DRM.

Even if you have a connection at all times, if it's not particularly beefy does that mean some games won't run/will run slowly for you?
Gareth Halfacree 28th May 2013, 11:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeStorm
If anything this could be worse than always on DRM.
I'm finding it difficult to see this as anything other than always-on internet DRM by the back-door. Either games that use the technology won't work at all when the servers are unavailable (see SimCity for details) or they'll work at a sub-standard level. Perhaps that 10,000-strong enemy army is suddenly 500-strong (a little bit like the port of Dead Rising for the Wii, in fact.) Perhaps half the levels have just gone away.

I've been trying to get more information out of Microsoft about how it will all work - the video was published a week ago - but I've had no joy. The best they can offer me is that more information will be made available at E3, and even then they haven't said the information will actually include anything about the cloud computing implementation.
rollo 28th May 2013, 11:05 Quote
Not sure whats worse living in the uk this or always online.

My connection is perm up but its not fast 2-4mb like 90% of the uk is on and most of USA for that matter.

Id prefer always online and everything on the disk than half of the game on the cloud and half of it on the disk as the problem is my connection will not happily download massive amounts of gbs in any quick time.

Do i need to pre download the game if i intend to play it the day before as 8gb is a 8-12hr download for most people 16gb is close to 24hrs.

Wtb my m8s connection in norway 120up 120 down.
GeorgeStorm 28th May 2013, 11:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
I'm finding it difficult to see this as anything other than always-on internet DRM by the back-door. Either games that use the technology won't work at all when the servers are unavailable (see SimCity for details) or they'll work at a sub-standard level. Perhaps that 10,000-strong enemy army is suddenly 500-strong (a little bit like the port of Dead Rising for the Wii, in fact.) Perhaps half the levels have just gone away.

I've been trying to get more information out of Microsoft about how it will all work - the video was published a week ago - but I've had no joy. The best they can offer me is that more information will be made available at E3, and even then they haven't said the information will actually include anything about the cloud computing implementation.

Yeah, I was meaning the other potential implementation they had of it, as you said, for some games it is always on DRM, just not quite in the same way as traditional DRM.
will_123 28th May 2013, 11:32 Quote
SimCity part2 then. smashing. Also what is with the constant reference to transistors in the new consoles PR stuff?

"it’s also about having transistors in the cloud"

MOAR TRANSISTORS!
rollo 28th May 2013, 11:40 Quote
If they have anything like Sim Citys issues then the Xbox one would be huge trouble if this is a main required feature for every game. With Rumours around the net that Microsoft wants to push this with every developer as part of a perm online authentication.

Sim City has never really recovered from the bad press it recieved and in many places still does recieve can Microsoft really afford a years of bad press every time a major game release comes out that 10million gamers want to access there servers at launch.

COD, BF4, FIFA would be 3 examples that might want server access and all will sell well.

Even blizzard have yet to see one of there games launch without issues and battle.net has been in existance for years now and has gone through 5 major game launches in that time ( wow 2 expansions, SC2 + 1 and D3) All 5 had issues of some kind on launch related to server downloads and patches and not been accessible.
Harlequin 28th May 2013, 11:45 Quote
again MS are only looking at the USA market along with its tv package thing

ultra fast internet take up is improving , but its not 100% by any means.
Gareth Halfacree 28th May 2013, 11:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rollo
Sim City has never really recovered from the bad press it recieved [...]
Sadly for people who like to be able to game without an internet connection, that simply isn't true: the game has been topping the PC charts for quite some time now. Here it is as the top-seller in April. In new charts that combine boxed sales and digital distribution, SimCity was the best-selling PC game of March - easily beating Bioshock Infinite and the new Tomb Raider reboot.

Put simply: hardcore gamers read gaming news sites, but they represent only a small portion of the target market for games. Would SimCity have sold more copies without the negative publicity of its botched launch? Absolutely. Is it still a best-selling game? Totally. Would the vast majority of people who have bought it have any idea what you were talking about if you mentioned always-on DRM and offloaded AI engines? Not a chance.
SAimNE 28th May 2013, 12:35 Quote
i knew this was on the way, but i thought they would wait a few years for it... looks like xbox one is finally worth the cost.... still dont like live tho.
greigaitken 28th May 2013, 13:12 Quote
3 x more cpu doesnt change much. In 2 years, could i buy it as an add on box and forget needing to stream etc?, 100x more cpu power does change things.
Corky42 28th May 2013, 13:16 Quote
I wouldn't say its worth the cost, I think Microsoft will have a struggle convincing anyone who looks into how the new XBOX works that.

1. There cloud based gaming idea will work, what with all the bad press cloud based gaming has had.
2. And that the new kinetic isn't a surveillance device in disguise as both Germany and Australia are already concerned.

But as GH has already said, The vast majority of people who will be buying the new XBOX probably wont have any idea of what they are letting them selves in for :(
Niftyrat 28th May 2013, 13:40 Quote
Never sure with these how theyactually will work. if the ai data needs to go via Internet to server be processed and sent back how long will that take? And will it be noticeable on gameplay and what if in a multiplayer game one line is quicker will that make a diff?
SleepyMatt 28th May 2013, 22:48 Quote
If you ask me, the consoles aren't even close to release, and already it's a massive win for Sony. Though naturally I think I'll stick with my PC thanks all the same.
fluxtatic 29th May 2013, 06:04 Quote
From the article Ars Technica had up the other day, it's essentially things that aren't latency-sensitive. Lighting, fluid dynamics, things like that. Meaning, if the cloud is available and your connection is up to snuff, it might allow you to turn the settings up another notch. If not, you'll get whatever the local machine can handle on its own, but nothing that really actually affects the gameplay to any significant degree.

Maybe, at best, it'll mean less of a compromise on graphics for the next wave of console ports?

Like a lot of console features, we likely won't see the best of what it can do for several years...like the consoles themselves. Look at first-gen PS2 games versus what was being released a year before PS2 dropped - the difference is almost night and day. Given the development cycle for games, it'll be years before devs really understand how to take advantage of this, I think.
Snips 29th May 2013, 09:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SleepyMatt
If you ask me, the consoles aren't even close to release, and already it's a massive win for Sony. Though naturally I think I'll stick with my PC thanks all the same.

I really don't understand how this is a massive win for Sony?

Same thing was said on the release of PS3/Xbox360 and the 360 won that round hands down. We've seen nothing from Sony and you seriously think Sony won't follow suit with the new format Microsoft are going with.

First one through the wall always gets bloody, it's whose left standing at the end that counts and XboxOne has win written all over it ;)

This topic alone will make a massive difference. How many truly play a PS3 or 360 without an internet connection? How many hardcore enthusiasts play here without an internet connection?

Xbox Live has become hugely popular and has made the Xbox360 the success it is today, what has changed with this topic to make it a bad idea?
rollo 29th May 2013, 10:47 Quote
Its not this topic alone though.

There 3-4 topics that people are debating, 2nd hand games, always online drm in some form or another, the tv stuff outside of USA, the lack of big exclusives anymore that are not just a dlc or 2.

There the big 3-4 been debated across the net, sonys console is not suffering from any of that its just been hyped up by everyone as they are talking about it as a gaming console not a media player.

Does not really suggest sonys console won't do media, its just not the number 1 seller for it.

Consoles have split this gen and Microsoft have went one way and Sony another.

Personally i have enough media devices and with the tv stuff not working outside of USA there is next to no chance of me buying it. ( I own a Xbox elite 120gb, Sony slim ps3 and the wii also had orginal of both ps3 Xbox)

Sony are basically just talking up the games and are getting the pre orders through that. The always online stuff is nearly Irelivent unless it affects actual gameplay or requires several gb download to play anygame.

E3 could change everything but in the uk at least the estimated retail sale date is 2014 jan to march for both consoles, which means both miss the big Christmas rush in the uk.
Snips 29th May 2013, 14:34 Quote
Who said the No 1 seller for Microsoft is TV?

Sony isn't suffering because they've said and shown nothing but a controller, which was a bit dull.

If Sony was doing a "Gamer" console, then why go with such crap console specs?
rollo 29th May 2013, 15:17 Quote
Specs are better than the competition last I checked. If you watched the Microsoft broadcast they were pushing the interaction between tv and kineck with the whole this will be the new media experience Ect Ect.
faugusztin 29th May 2013, 15:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rollo
Specs are better than the competition last I checked. If you watched the Microsoft broadcast they were pushing the interaction between tv and kineck with the whole this will be the new media experience Ect Ect.

And once again, that is simply because they have E3 just around the corner to show all the games. You are exactly the person who tunes to watch Google I/O 2013 DEVELOPER keynote and is angry because there was no new Nexus device and no Android 4.3 announced. Gaming part of XBOX One will be presented on E3, that is where it belongs. The initial announcement was more like "here we have xbox one, which is not only a gaming console, but also your media center, your central hub for home entertainment; that they will bring exclusive media content (HALO TV series), which means they are going to do what Netflix does; that they are teaming up with various sport series to bring you added value (fantasy sports overlay)". In other words - that show was about the "other features" of the console. They aren't really "pushing" the tv stuff, but a presentation of those features on E3 would have been a bit strange. I am pretty sure they will show a lot of XBOX One gaming stuff on E3, will you then say they were pushing "this whole gaming experience" ?

I think you guys really underestimate the market for the "other uses" of the console, which is proabably even bigger than the "console market" itself. How many PS3 were bought only because they were the cheaper BD player ? It took up until 2010 for PS3 to get bellow 50% in area of BD players.

If the more casual buyer will look at consoles they will see PS4 which is only a gaming console, versus XBOX One which is a gaming console, a media center, they can subscribe to a unlimited music service (Xbox Music Pass), they can buy movies and tv series, they get this overlay experience... Don't underestimate the selling power of those features.
Harlequin 29th May 2013, 16:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snips
Who said the No 1 seller for Microsoft is TV?

Sony isn't suffering because they've said and shown nothing but a controller, which was a bit dull.

If Sony was doing a "Gamer" console, then why go with such crap console specs?

stunning

and what exactly would your `gamer` specs be , within the phyicsal size , power and thermal envelope?

remember , you cant get a discrete card In there
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