The Intiative dev: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X capable of 8K gaming

Next-gen consoles will be capable of 8K gaming, but don't expect to see native high-end 8K gaming. There's lots of compromise.

4 minutes & 40 seconds read time

Both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X have been billed as 8K capable, and Sony has confirmed the PS5 can support 8K gaming. But devs have been quiet on the topic. Until now, that is.

The Intiative dev: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X capable of 8K gaming 9

In a recent interview with Gaming Bolt, The Initiative gameplay engineer Franciso Aisa Garcia asserts both next-gen consoles can handle 8K gaming with trade-offs. Similar to how the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X handled 4K gaming, next-gen console will also have to compromise other performance targets to maintain any semblance of 8K. The new AMD SoCs might be powerful but native 8K gaming is far out of their scope.

"My specialty lies on gameplay and AI, not graphics, so I couldn't tell you for a fact, but I do know these consoles are capable."

"I think from my point of view, it's more about where you want to draw the line. Would you rather push for 8K but scale down other systems? Or would you rather push those systems, but scale the graphics down to 4K? It's a lot like frame rate, you know. I personally feel like most games should strive for 60FPS, but it's a trade off, would you rather push for 60FPS and then scale down on other things? Or the other way around?"

The Intiative dev: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X capable of 8K gaming 17

Read more: Understanding the PS5's SSD: A deep dive into next-gen storage tech

Like current-gen, games on next-gen PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles will revolve around balance. This time around developers have much more horsepower to play with; the RDNA 2 GPUs, Zen 2 CPUs, 16GB of GDDR6 RAM, and PCIe 4.0 SSDs are built specifically to synergize with one another. This is the first time all of the parts have been built from the ground up to complement one another and supercharge gaming experiences. The hardware will allow next-gen play with amazing atmospheric visuals and effects like raytraced lighting as well as tighter frame rates up to 120FPS.

But even with all that power, developers still have a ceiling.

They still have to manage a certain threshold and compromise. Games with higher frame rates will likely run at supersampled or even with dynamic resolution scaling enabled--we likely will not see native 4K games at 120FPS, for example. That goes double for 8K, which should require significant downscaling of certain things in order to maintain, along with upscaled graphics. We'll be lucky to see upscaled 8K at 30FPS on these systems.

Read more: Xbox Series X SSD is revolutionary, changes Xbox gaming forever

That being said, devs have some new tricks to utilize.

There's Variable Rate Shading, or VRS, which lowers the resolution of faraway textures to eke out more FPS performance. The result can add a nice chunk of FPS to specific scenes with no discernible loss of fidelity.

The Xbox Series X's Velocity Architecture also supercharges the rate of data streaming through the GDDR6 bandwidth bus and PCIe 4.0 SSD, which blasts right into the CPU for processing and the GPU for rendering on-screen. The PS5 has a similar setup with its architectural design complemented by an ultra-fast 12-channel PCIe 4.0 SSD capable of blasting uncompressed data through at 5.5GB/sec, and compressed data at up to 20GB/sec.

Each console also has its own hardware-based decompression block that frees up the CPU for more complex tasks and reduces processing overhead. In short, this on-SoC chip will give the CPU more room to do its main job, which is processing data and helping push frame rates to higher levels.

The result sees data, assets, and textures rocketing to the other components at a faster rate than ever before. This eliminates load times, leads to massively efficient data streaming, and frees up resources to handle more demanding tasks.

Based on what we know about the consoles, 8K gaming doesn't seem totally out of the realm of possibilities, but we can't expect any kind of crazy performance. We might hear Microsoft and Sony talk about this more in depth, but remember 8K adoption is very, very early and the main emphasis right now is on 4K. Sony, however, just revealed its CLEDIS line of high-end 8K UHDTVs so we might see them talk about 8K gaming before Microsoft.

Both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles will release Holiday 2020. No pricing, pre-order dates, or exact launch dates have been revealed. Check below for specs on each system:

PlayStation 5 specs and details:

  • Custom SoC with second-gen Navi GPU, Zen 2 CPU
  • 8-Core, 16-thread Zen 2 CPU at 3.5GHz
  • Navi 2X GPU with 36 CUs on RDNA 2 at 2.23GHz
  • Ultra-fast 825GB 12-channel PCIe 4.0 M.2 NVMe SSD with up to 9GB/sec speeds
  • Two SKUs: Digital-only, and standard with a disc drive
  • Support for 4K 120 Hz TVs
  • Ray-tracing enabled
  • 8K output support (for gaming)
  • Plays PS4 games, BC is on a title-to-title basis
  • Separate games that ship on BD-XL Blu-ray discs
  • New controller with extensive haptic and tactile feedback

Xbox Series X confirmed details (Formerly Project Scarlett):

  • 8-core, 16-thread Zen 2 CPU
  • 12.15 TFLOP Navi GPU on RDNA 2 architecture
  • 7nm+ AMD SoC
  • 16GB GDDR6 memory
  • 2x Xbox One X's 6TFLOPs of GPU perf
  • 4x CPU power of Xbox One generation
  • Can deliver up to 40x more performance than Xbox One in specific use cases
  • Adaptive sync supported
  • Super-fast SSD that can be used as VRAM
  • Supports 8K resolution
  • 120FPS gaming
  • Variable refresh rate (adaptive sync/FreeSync)
  • Variable Rate Shading
  • Raytracing confirmed with dedicated raytracing cores
  • Backward compatible with thousands of Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One games
  • New controller with a dedicated share button
  • Compatible with Xbox One accessories

Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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