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Xbox Series X's Sampler Feedback Streaming will boost loading times

Xbox Series X's new sampler feedback streaming tech gives developers much more granular control over how data is loaded.

@DeekeTweak
Published Sun, Jul 19 2020 5:41 PM CDT   |   Updated Mon, Oct 19 2020 8:20 PM CDT

The Xbox Series X's Velocity Architecture features many revolutionary new technologies and architectural optimizations, one of which is Sampler Feedback Streaming, which can dramatically reduce texture pack file sizes by eliminating redundancy.

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The Xbox Series X is a game-changer. The sum of its parts--whether it be the higher-end Navi GPU, Zen 2 CPU, and powerful PCIe 4.0 SSD hardware or the new software/OS/architecture optimizations--are all massively synergized to work together. Sampler Feedback Streaming is one of these parts, and it's featured in the new Velocity Architecture, a banner that's focused on making the Xbox Series X fast and efficient.

We've already outlined the basics of Sampler Feedback Streaming in our in-depth Xbox Series X SSD video, but now we have a developer's perspective on the topic. Despite Microsoft's transparency on the console, devs have been markedly silent on how the Xbox Series X's new features will benefit them. But now Team Blur Games' lead designer Gavin Stevens offers some golden insight.

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

Stevens recently posted a huge Twitter thread that outlines just how remarkable Sampler Feedback Streaming is, and what it means for developers.

In short, SFS gives devs much more granular and fine-tuned control over how data is prepared and delivered to the Navi GPU for rendering. SFS takes data that's uncompressed by the I/O system--in this case, the new DirectX 12 StorageAPI--and then helps streamline the data asset pipeline as the content is delivered on through to the GDDR6 RAM, which is then passed to the CPU for processing and the GPU for rendering.

This pipeline is called data streaming, not to be confused with cloud/game streaming, because the data is streamed from storage to the memory pool and SoC.

Xbox Series X's Sampler Feedback Streaming will boost loading times 14 | TweakTown.com

Read Also: Xbox Series X SSD natively drops load times by 4x without code changes

So how does this tangible affect games development?

SFS can eliminate redundant mips and significantly reduce overall texture data sets, which is extremely important for 4K (or even 8K) games. As Stevens explains, textures require mipmaps, or downscaled versions of the textures. If textures don't have mipmapping then the scene will look too stark and unrealistic. Mipmaps blend the textures together to make them look more natural and easier on the eyes.

Essentially SFS will only load the required mip at any given time for any given solution. The result is a lot less data that's loaded into the RAM, which means less congestion and more space in the memory pool and less taxation on the I/O storage throughput that's constantly moving data.

Here's how Stevens explained it (be sure to read the whole thing as it's pretty illuminating):

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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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