Microsoft Speaks About Cloud Computing Capabilities Of Xbox One

Xbox One Cloud

Ars Technica recently sat down with General Manager of Redmond Game Studios and Platforms Matt Booty to ask some questions about the Xbox One and cloud computing.   Booty  what “latency-insensitive computation” support from the cloud for the Xbox One means exactly.

“Things that I would call latency-sensitive would be reactions to animations in a shooter, reactions to hits and shots in a racing game, reactions to collisions,” Booty said. “Those things you need to have happen immediately and on frame and in sync with your controller. There are some things in a video game world, though, that don’t necessarily need to be updated every frame or don’t change that much in reaction to what’s going on.

One example of that might be lighting,” he continued. “Let’s say you’re looking at a forest scene and you need to calculate the light coming through the trees, or you’re going through a battlefield and have very dense volumetric fog that’s hugging the terrain. Those things often involve some complicated up-front calculations when you enter that world, but they don’t necessarily have to be updated every frame. Those are perfect candidates for the console to offload that to the cloud—the cloud can do the heavy lifting, because you’ve got the ability to throw multiple devices at the problem in the cloud.”

A rule of thumb we like to use is that [for] every Xbox One available in your living room we’ll have three of those devices in the cloud available.”

There are many things that can be handled in the cloud without adding any lag to actual game play, such as physics modeling, fluid dynamics, and cloth motion.  Over time this will become more important as Microsoft’s server resources will outpace the local resource sin the Xbox One.

Booty did mention the developers would need to learn how to properly incorporate the cloud resources into their games to maintain a seamless experience.

“Without getting too into the weeds, think about a lighting technique like ambient occlusion that gives you all the cracks and crevices and shadows that happen not just from direct light. There are a number of calculations that have to be done up front, and as the camera moves the effect will change. So when you walk into a room, it might be that for the first second or two the fidelity of the lighting is done by the console, but then, as the cloud catches up with that, the data comes back down to the console and you have incredibly realistic lighting.”

Game developers have always had to wrestle with levels of detail… managing where and when you show details is part of the art of games.”  One of the exciting challenges going forward is a whole new set of techniques to manage what is going to be offloaded to the cloud and what’s going to come back.”




  • GetEdumated

    Wow- that name! Matt should name his kid Dat!

  • auziez

    “Over time this will become more important as Microsoft’s server resources will outpace the local resource sin the Xbox One.”

    This is very encouraging, and needs to be expanded on by Microsoft. Many have said “oh the ps4 has 50% more power”, and it is completely true, but if microsoft can say that they will implement things like this then its just better, no smoke in mirror.

    • ArrowSmith

      Having the most local power will quickly become an outdated concept as power cloud compute + fast internet connections will show.

    • Hector Macias Ayala

      Just one thing I dont get is this could have been done in 360, if at last the console becomes merely a terminal.

  • NGM123

    This sounds very interesting It doesn’t really matter what the physical hardware specs of the actual console are, as long as it’s connected to the cloud it has the potential for unlimited power and resources. Move over PS4, this is a game changer, pardon the pun.

  • Lewis McCrary

    Yeah I find this really interesting too. I’m trying to wrap my head around it. We’re just so used to the console/machine doing all the work.

  • timotim

    This is what next-gen is all about. Finding technics that you can evolve over time that increases the power of your box. Yes, devs will continue to learn how to work with the box by year 3-4 in ways that totally blow out launch titles, but you also need that extra power after devs squeeze out all of it with normal technics…this is it. It will require games to be connected to the internet…but Ive had my Xbox 360 since day one, and all but a few months have I gone without a broadband connection. I look forward to the launch of “The One” and its ability to multitask and fast switch, but I really look forward to year 2 and beyond when these new technics will be prevalent.

  • Hector Macias Ayala

    This is basicallly what Onlive offers, I tried some 2011 games on a 2007 Laptop which by no means had the required processing power, let aside graphics compat, and the result was more than decent for that thing.

    I think MS will introduce gradually more and more cloud based content, and in a couple of years it will be like Onlive on steroids.

    One is already 10 times more powerful than 360, this means Avatar quality in your very room in the near future.