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Is the New Old Already? Far Cry 6 Raytracing Exclusive to PC Version, PS5 and Xbox Series Left Out

Stephanie Brenham, Team Lead Programmer for Ubisoft's upcoming AAA Far Cry 6, recently spoke to WCCFTech on the upcoming Far Cry installment. Stephanie went into some detail regarding the graphics and performance options, and an interesting fact that surfaced was that neither Sony's PS5 nor Microsoft's Xbox Series consoles will feature ray tracing enabled on their respective versions of the game. Apparently, ray tracing will be a PC-exclusive feature, as console versions of the game are targeting higher render resolution and more fluid framerates over expensive graphics options such as ray tracing. And even on PC, it'll be a hybrid form of it, and not a full implementation: ray tracing is supported for both shadows and reflections, but Ubisoft opted for a hybrid approach here, marrying traditional rendering with ray tracing so as to improve performance in mainstream PC hardware.

"Ray tracing is a PC-only feature," Stephanie Brenham said. "On console, our objective has been to take advantage of new hardware capabilities, optimizing performance targeting 4K and achieving 60 FPS." This does somewhat fall in the face of performance expectations set by both Sony and Microsoft; both companies made (and still make) extensive use of ray tracing support on the marketing campaigns for their consoles. However, as we've seen in the past, enabling ray tracing comes with severe performance penalties in even the latest and greatest PC hardware (sometimes not to best effect, even), which still outclasses even the latest consoles' powerful innards (compared to their predecessors, of course).

Playstation 3 Emulator RPCS3 To Implement AMD FSR Upscaling Tech

AMD's Fidelity Super Resolution (FSR) tech is being implemented in RPSCS3, one of the foremost emulators for Sony's Playstation 3. The emulator allows PC users to play otherwise PS3-exclusive games via software emulation. The nature of this emulation, however, leads to a couple important aspects. One pertains to performance: emulating non-existent hardware is one of the most resource-hungry workloads one can think of, and is highly dependent on the emulator's coding quality. Another is that since this is a software solution, it does allow to changes in maximum render resolution, for example, or the addition of visual effects or other modifications to the rendering pipeline. One limitation of this approach is that game support has to be added almost manually, checking and correcting the emulators' behaviors according to the software being played.

AMD's FSR tech been received with a rather enthusiastic response. This is in part due to its open source nature, but also because of its apparent ease of implementation and its higher compatibility with graphics cards new, old, and from the competition - unlike NVIDIA's DLSS, which requires specific hardware (Tensor cores) to be present in the GPU chip, locking it to only the latest NVIDIA products. This nature of FSR has led to its integrationn on the RPCS3 emulator, promising a relatively easy to implement performance and image quality increase compared to the original rendering pipeline, including 4K upscaling. Check after the break for a video of the tech in action (spoiler: the quality difference isn't nearly as close as what the thumbnail implies).

RPCS3 PlayStation 3 Emulator Receives AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution Support

RPCS3 is an open-source PlayStation 3 emulator which currently boasts compatibility with 61% of the 2278 games released for the console and limited compatibility with a further 31%. The developers behind the emulator have recently announced the addition of AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) support which they note is the first for any console emulator. This implementation performs the upscaling at the end of the graphics pipeline which may introduce issues on certain titles. The feature can be enabled within the settings menu under the GPU section and the sharpening strength can be adjusted from 1 - 100%.
RPCS3RPCS3 is now the first game console emulator to support FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR)

Arcadegeddon Receives AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution Support on PlayStation 5

The first console game to receive AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) support appears to be the cooperative shooter Arcadegeddon on the PlayStation 5. AMD FSR support is currently limited to a handful of PC titles but we expect the list to grow quickly given the integration of the technology into Unity, Unreal Engine, and the Xbox Game Development Kit. Sony hasn't publically confirmed that AMD FSR has been integrated into the PlayStation SDK however after this recent announcement the addition seems likely. The integration of AMD Super Resolution technology into these development tools will enable much faster integration of the feature into new and existing titles.

AMD FidelityFX FSR Source Code Released & Updates Posted, Uses Lanczos under the Hood

AMD today in a blog post announced several updates to the FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) technology, its performance enhancement rivaling NVIDIA DLSS, which lets gamers dial up performance with minimal loss to image quality. To begin with, the company released the source code of the technology to the public under its GPUOpen initiative, under the MIT license. This makes it tremendously easy (and affordable) for game developers to implement the tech. Inspecting the source, we find that FSR relies heavily on a multi-pass Lanczos algorithm for image upscaling. Next up, we learn that close to two dozen games are already in the process of receiving FSR support. Lastly, it's announced that Unity and Unreal Engine support FSR.

AMD broadly detailed how FSR works in its June 2021 announcement of the technology. FSR sits within the render pipeline of a game, where an almost ready lower-resolution frame that's been rendered, tone-mapped, and anti-aliased, is processed by FSR in a two-pass process implemented as a shader, before the high-resolution output is passed on to post-processing effects that introduce noise (such as film-grain). HUD and other in-game text (such as subtitles), are natively rendered at the target (higher) resolution and applied post render. The FSR component makes two passes—upscaling, and sharpening. We learn from the source code that the upscaler is based on the Lanczos algorithm, which was invented in 1979. Media PC enthusiasts will know Lanczos from MadVR, which has offered various movie upscaling algorithms in the past. AMD's implementation of Lanczos-2 is different than the original—it skips the expensive sin(), rcp() and sqrt() instructions and implements them in a faster way. AMD also added additional logic to avoid the ringing effects that are often observed on images processed with Lanczos.

Microsoft Seemingly Looking to Develop AI-based Upscaling Tech via DirectML

Microsoft seems to be throwing its hat in the image upscale battle that's currently raging between NVIDIA and AMD. The company has added two new job openings to its careers page: one for a Senior Software Engineer and another for a Principal Software Engineer for Graphics. Those job openings would be quite innocent by themselves; however, once we cut through the chaff, it becomes clear that the Senior Software Engineer is expected to "implement machine learning algorithms in graphics software to delight millions of gamers," while working closely with "partners" to develop software for "future machine learning hardware" - partners here could be first-party titles or even the hardware providers themselves (read, AMD). AMD themselves have touted a DirectML upscaling solution back when they first introduced their FidelityFX program - and FSR clearly isn't it.

It is interesting how Microsoft posted these job openings in June 30th - a few days after AMD's reveal of their FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) solution for all graphics cards - and which Microsoft themselves confirmed would be implemented in the Xbox product stack, where applicable. Of course, that there is one solution available already does not mean companies should rest on their laurels - AMD is surely at work on improving its FSR tech as we speak, and Microsoft has seen the advantages on having a pure ML-powered image upscaling solution thanks to NVIDIA's DLSS. Whether Microsoft's solution with DirectML will improve on DLSS as it exists at time of launch (if ever) is, of course, unknowable at this point.

NVIDIA Working on Ultra Quality Mode for DLSS Upscaling

NVIDIA's Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) technology has been developed to upscale lower resolutions using artificial intelligence and deep learning algorithms. By using this technique, users with RTX cards can increase their framerates in supported games, with minimal loss in image quality. Recently, AMD introduced FidelityFX Super Resolution, a competing technology, which in one aspect might be technologically better than the DLSS competition. How you might wonder? Well, at the "quality" setting, NVIDIA's DLSS renders the game at 66.6% of the resolution, upscaling it 1.5 times. At the same "quality" preset, AMD FSR renders the game at 77% of the resolution and upscales the image by 1.3 times. This is technically providing an advantage to AMD FSR technology, as the image is posed to look better with less upscaling. DLSS on the other hand uses much more information, because it considers multiple frames in its temporal algorithm.

That newfound competition could be what made NVIDIA re-think their options and today we are getting some exciting news regarding DLSS. In the Unreal Engine 5 (UE5) documentation, there is a placeholder for "Ultra Quality" DLSS mode, which is supposed to rival AMD's "Ultra Quality" mode and offer the best possible image quality. Currently, the latest DLSS version is 2.2.6.0, which is present in some DLSS supported games, and can be added to others using a DLL-swap. The updated version with the Ultra Quality preset is already present in UE5, called DLSS 2.2.9.0. Mr. Alexander Battaglia from Digital Foundry has made a quick comparison using the two versions, however, we are waiting for more in-depth testing to see the final results.

AMD FSR FidelityFX Super Resolution is Coming to Xbox Consoles

Just a few days ago, we have reviewed AMD's FidelityFX Super Resolution technology, which represents an answer to NVIDIA's Deep Learning Super Sampling technology used to upscale images t certain resolutions. As the review predicted, AMD's presence in consoles like PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S must result in the integration of the technology in that field, not only the PC space. And today seems to be the day that Microsoft and AMD join forces to bring AMD's FSR technology to consoles. In the latest Xbox Game Development Kit preview, Microsoft is shipping AMD's FSR tech, giving game developers an easy way to integrate it into the games and thus manipulate resolution to give us the best possible frame rates.
Jason Ronald (Twitter)Excited to continue our close partnership with @AMD and see what game developers can do with FidelityFX Super Resolution, available to preview in our GDK today for @Windows, @Xbox Series X|S and #XboxOne consoles.

AMD FSR Supporting 7 Games at Launch, 12 More Games to be Added in the Near Future

AMD's DLSS competitor FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) is going to be launched in a mere five days, on June 22nd. When AMD announced the technology last month, they used Godfall as a showcase for the improved performance characteristics of the technology, which should aid (particularly) in raytracing.enabled games. Being open source, AMD's FSR also supports NVIDIA's graphics cards, meaning that any game that bakes in support for the technology can be taken advantage of by PC players irrespective of GPU brand.

In the meantime, the launch titles for FSR have become known, and there are seven of them, though they're relatively small hitters (Anno 1800 is one of the supported games at launch). However, support for FSR is expected to launch in the near future for 12 more games, including heavy-hitter Baldur's Gate III, DOTA 2, Far Cry 6, Myst, Resident Evil Village and Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodhunt. Besides these closer-to-the-horizon games, a number of developers have announced they're working on integration FSR on their workflows, including Crystal Dynamics, Focus Home Interactive, Capcom, Ubisoft, Unity, Electronic Arts & Dice... A total of 44 developers in all, Of course NVIDIA's DLSS supports much more games - but remember it has two years in the market going for it, and remember that DLSS 1.0 wasn't all that good. So comparisons with NVIDIA's solution and claims of failure or disappointment on AMD's technology might be slightly too early judgments, especially considering how this tech has also been announced to be supported by Microsoft's Xbox Series X|S consoles.

AMD Enables FidelityFX Suite on Xbox Series X|S

AMD has announced that Microsoft's Xbox Series S|X now features support for the company's FidelityFX suite. This move, which enabled previously PC-centric technologies on Microsoft's latest-generation gaming consoles, will bring feature parity between RDNA 2-powered graphics, and will eventually enable support for AMD's FSR (FidelityFX Super Resolution), the company's eventual competition to NVIDIA's DLSS tech.

This means that besides the technologies that are part of the DX 12 Ultimate spec (and which the consoles already obviously support), developers now have access to AMD's Fidelity FX technologies such as Contrast Adaptive Sharpening, Variable Rate Shading, ray traced shadow Denoiser, Ambient Occlusion and Screen Space Reflections. All of these AMD-led developments in the SDK allow for higher performance and/or better visual fidelity. However, the icing on the cake should be the FSR support, which could bring the Series X's 8K claims to bear (alongside high-refresh-rate 4K gaming) - should FSR turn out be in a similar performance-enhancing ballpark as NVIDIA's DLSS, which we can't really know for sure at this stage (and likely neither can AMD). No word on Fidelity FX support on the PS5 has been announced at this time, which does raise the question of its eventual support, or if Sony will enable a similar feature via their own development tools.

Confronting NVIDIA's DLSS: AMD Confirms FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) to Launch in 2021

AMD, via its CVP & GM at AMD Radeon Scott Herkelman, confirmed in video with PCWorld that the company's counterpart to NVIDIA's DLSS technology - which he defines as the most important piece of software currently in development from a graphics perspective - is coming along nicely. Launch of the technology is currently planned for later this year. Scott Herkelman further confirmed that there is still a lot of work to do on the technology before it's ready for prime time, but in the meantime, it has an official acronym: FSR (FidelityFX Super Resolution). If you're unfamiliar with DLSS, it's essentially an NVIDIA-locked, proprietary upscaling algorithm that has been implemented in a number of games now, which leverages Machine Learning hardware capabilities (tensor cores) to upscale a game with minimal impact to visual quality. It's important because it allows for much higher performance in even the latest, most demanding titles - especially when they implement raytracing.

As has been the case with AMD, its standing on upscaling technologies defends a multiplatform, compatible approach that only demands implementation of open standards to run in users' systems. The idea is to achieve the broadest possible spectrum of game developers and gamers, with tight, seamless integration with the usual game development workflow. This is done mostly via taking advantage of Microsoft's DirectML implementation that's baked straight into DX 12.
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