Forza 5 Devs Claim Xbox One Cloud Improves AI Processing 600%

Posted by Jim Tanous on August 1, 2013
Xbox One Cloud

When Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One in May, the company lauded the ability of the console to leverage cloud-based servers for advanced “offloaded” game processing. Background AI for simulations and non-time-sensitive physics, for example, could be calculated in cloud, reserving the full power of the console’s local processor for critical tasks. It sounded impressive, but there was no measurement or example of how this would affect gamers and game developers in the real world.

That changed Thursday during an Official Xbox Magazine (OXM) interview with Turn 10 Studios manager Alan Hartman. Mr. Hartman’s studio is in the final phases of development for the anticipated Xbox One launch title and the latest in the racing franchise, Forza 5.

According to Mr. Hartman, the Xbox One’s cloud server capability is a “tremendous opportunity” for game developers. In the case of a racing game like Forza 5, calculations for controlling the AI-driven cars would normally consume 10 to 20 percent of a console’s processing power. With the cloud, Mr. Hartman claims, they can offload this processing to Microsoft’s servers and increase it to up to 600 percent of the console’s total power. This not only results in significantly improved AI, but also saves that 10 to 20 percent on the local console, allowing it to be used for other aspects of the game.

When you’ve got a learning neural network, more computing power is nothing but helpful. Because what you’re able to do is process a lot more information, and you don’t have to do it in realtime on the box. And that frees up more of the box to be doing graphics or audio or other computational areas.

Cloud processing is optional for Xbox One developers, so not every game will see the kind of improvements Mr. Hartman describes. Readers should also note that Turn 10 Studios, founded in 2001, is a subsidiary of Microsoft Studios, the company’s game production arm. It’s therefore unsurprising to hear Mr. Hartman praise the Xbox One’s capabilities.

Still, the notion of offloaded, cloud-based processing for video games is indeed exciting, and gamers will soon be able to see what advantages it will bring when the console launches this fall, likely in November.

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