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Microsoft Announces Major Xbox Live Update 48

Posted by Zonk
from the ground-control-to-major-nelson dept.
simoniker writes "Microsoft has announced its sixth major update to the Xbox Live online service for Xbox 360, with 85 new features and enhancements, including support for native 1080p games and movies, faster Xbox Live Arcade game list display times, and more options for video playback. The company has announced that it will debut the update Tuesday, October 31, and the free download will be available to all Xbox Live Silver and Gold account holders, and will not require the use of the Xbox 360's hard drive."
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Microsoft Announces Major Xbox Live Update

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  • Full List (Score:4, Informative)

    by cptgrudge (177113) <cptgrudge@g m a i l . c om> on Monday October 30, 2006 @04:46PM (#16649087) Journal
    The full list of changes can be found here [xbox.com].
  • by Osty (16825) on Monday October 30, 2006 @06:37PM (#16650819)

    What I want to know is how well the framerate holds up when the resolution in cranked to 1080p. I couldn't dredge up the info on what exactly MS is requiring from developers, although they all are likely tweaking for reasonable performance at the top setting.

    The Xbox 360 has 10MB of high-speed local framebuffer for the GPU that is used exclusively for the output frames (a 1920x1080@32bpp frame is 7.9MB). As well, it has a hardware scaling unit that does high quality upscaling to any resolution. The point of all of this is that games will render at a lower resolution (usually 540p or 720p) and then scale up to 1080p at output. With this update, developers now have the option to render internally at 1080p if they wish, but even PS3 games aren't rendering at 1080p. Since there are no games rendering internally at 1080p right now, why add 1080p support at all? By scaling the image in hardware on the console itself, you get a better image than if you let your TV do it (scaling before analog conversion) and you eliminate any potential lag from TVs with poor scaling hardware. That means that even though games are still rendered internally at 720p, a 1080p-native display (DLP, LCD, Plasma) will no longer have to do any conversion of its own. The quality will be similar to an up-converting DVD player from 480p to 720p, for example.

    Because scaling is done in hardware, Microsoft doesn't require anything from developers. They can choose whatever size is appropriate for their internal rendering (as noted above, usually 540p or 720p) and let the scaling unit take care of upscaling or downscaling to 1080i/p or 480i/p. Obviously games will look better when rendered at a higher internal resolution. And since the game always renders at the same resolution regardless, there's no tweaking that needs to be done to accomodate different resolutions (ie, a player at 480p is not going to have more free cycles for AI than a player at 1080p, since in both cases the image is rendered at 720p and then scaled in hardware).

    What does this all mean? Well, you really can't talk about a game "supporting" 720p or 1080p on 360, as all games support all resolutions. All you can really say is what resolution is native to that game, as a game with a 540p native resolution will obviously look worse than a native resolution 1080p. But then, as Slashdotters like to say, graphics aren't all that matters. A game like Lego Star Wars II has no need to use a 1080p native resolution, for example. But since the console can now support it, 1080p users can play it in the resolution native to their display. I would assume that Sony's taken a similar approach with the PS3, but I'm probably wrong.

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