Xbox Added Next-Gen Technology To The One X Early Last Year And Few Noticed

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Nervusbreakdown

XBOX LIVE Member Since 2002
Sep 11, 2013
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https://www-forbes-com.cdn.ampproje...to-the-one-x-early-last-year-and-few-noticed/

Speculation about the next generation consoles from Xbox and PlayStation is ramping up as the current-gen consoles near the end of their life cycle. When will they be released, how powerful will they be, how will they make gaming better?

Automatic low-latency mode (ALLM) and variable refresh rate (VRR) are two technologies that will certainly make gaming better if they’re included in the next-gen consoles. Will the next PlayStation offer ALLM and VRR? It’s unknown at present. What about Xbox? It’s a pretty sure bet the next Xbox will have both because they were added to the Xbox One early last year.

When automatic low-latency mode is enabled, the timing between input from the controller and game’s response is optimized based on the content being displayed on the screen. The benefit for games is that input lag is reduced to the point where it shouldn’t be an issue. Competitive multiplayer games in which millisecond lags can mean the difference between success and failure will benefit the most from ALLM.
Variable refresh rate will benefit almost every kind of game. As things stand now, televisions in the US have either 60 or 120 Hz refresh rates which means they redraw the image on the screen 60 or 120 times each second. Console games are often capped at either 30 or 60 fps; they render a new image 30 or 60 times per second. Everything works out fine as long as the game locks on either 30 or 60 fps because the frame and refresh rate are in sync. Every frame rendered by the game remains on the screen for the same amount of time.

The problem is that many games can’t render at 30 or 60 fps consistently. When there’s a lot going on, frame rate drops. When this happens, you get lag (the game speeds up and slows down), skipped frames (the image stutters), screen tearing (the image on the screen is divided between the top part of one frame and the bottom part of the frame that follows), and frame time discrepancies (the image judders and the time to respond to input from the controller varies). Many games that try to achieve 4K resolution use dynamic resolution scaling to protect frame rate by reducing resolution in high stress scenes. Resolution scaling helps, but it doesn’t always solve the problem.
The core of the problem is that the game’s frame rate must coincide with the TV’s refresh rate. Variable refresh rate reverses this relationship. Televisions with VRR automatically adjust the refresh rate to match the game’s frame rate. When frame rate slows down, refresh rate slows down with it. The game and the TV are always in sync, and all the frame rate problems that bedevil games go away. VRR is a game changer.

Microsoft added VRR and ALLM to the Xbox One S and X in April 2018. The additions were noted in the media but quickly forgotten because most consoles are connected to TVs and no TVs at the time could handle VRR or ALLM. VRR demands a video source and a display that are equipped with either Nvidia’s G-Sync or AMD’s Freesync (Xbox uses Freesync). A selection of dedicated gaming monitors had one or the other, but TVs had not yet adopted either technology.
That’s changed. HDMI 2.1 was announced in November 2017 and 2.1 supports both VRR and ALLM (along with a lot of other good things). However, equipment that’s certified for HDMI 2.1 had to wait until testing protocols were finalized and testing facilities were operational. That’s finally happened. As part of its lead-up to CES, LG announced its top-end OLED and LCD TVs for 2019 would come equipped with HDMI 2.1 ports. Other OEM’s may showcase HDMI 2.1 equipped TVs at CES as well.
Variable refresh rate and automatic low-latency mode are next-gen technologies. The Xbox One S and X support both but the consoles have HDMI 2.0 ports. HDMI 2.1 is backward compatible and both VRR and ALLM should work with HDMI 2.0 but actual performance may be a little wonky. These next-gen technologies won’t come fully into play until HDMI 2.1 certified consoles, TVs and AV receivers are on the market. It’s difficult to believe PlayStation’s next-gen console won’t support VRR and ALLM but we won’t know until the company tells us. We don’t have to wonder about Xbox. Microsoft gave us some of its next-gen technology nine months ago.