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A (helpful?) infographic about PS4 Pro resolutions

Liabe Brave

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There's been a great deal of discussion recently around the way games render on the new PS4 Pro. Since use of the Pro's extra graphical horsepower is up to the devs, they've chosen a lot of different approaches to boosting their games.

Exactly which games use what approach is listed elsewhere on GAF and the web at large. But I thought some folks might find it helpful to have a rough guide to what each technique actually does. So I created this infographic:



I didn't attempt to be complete. There are other specific resolutions used, not to mention other methods entirely, including reconstruction by means other than checkerboard. And obviously, I only put one example of each approach. But I think it's a decent summation of the options developers have, and roughly how they compare.

All of this is based on my own understanding, so there's a chance I could be wrong on details. If there's any corrections or additions that you think necessary, I'd be happy to revise. And if there's some other related topic you think needs a similar breakdown, I could take a stab at that too.

I hope somebody can take away something useful here. Thanks!
 

2blackcats

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Nice.

I don't think the green pixels just use the previous frame, don't they get some info from their blue neighbours too?

Not sure, but I thought so.
 

ClayKavalier

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Don't mean to sound like a dick, but there really are no details. I had no idea what checker-boarding coming in, and I have no idea now. Obviously checkerboard is inferior to native, and bigger numbers being better seems straightforward as well.
 

Pif

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2160p checkerboard?

Isn't that 4k already? what are they checkerboarding there.
 

Liabe Brave

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Don't mean to sound like a dick, but there really are no details. I had no idea what checker-boarding coming in, and I have no idea now. Obviously checkerboard is inferior to native, and bigger numbers being better seems straightforward as well.
Nothing dickish about that, I didn't really explain what checkerboarding is. It's too complex to jam into such a small space with any detail. It really deserves an explanation on its own (but I don't know that I'm knowledgeable enough to do that).
 
Dec 11, 2010
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They're checkerboarding to 4K. That's how it works.

The confusion is more Mass Effect Andromeda saying it's 1800p checkerboarding. Why aren't they just checkerboarding up to 4k? Are they checkerboarding to 1800p, then upscaling conventionally from that checkerboarded image to 4k? Wouldn't that cause checkerboarding artefacts and blur, the worst of both worlds?

I feel like there has to be some miscommunication there.
 

inner-G

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My question was:

Why 2160p checkerboarded, if 2160p = 4k ?
There are still 2160 vertical lines, the scaling happens horizontally IIRC - kind of like the anthropological 1080 from GT, but only in certain areas of the screen (the checkerboard)
 

jabberwocker

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The confusion is more Mass Effect Andromeda saying it's 1800p checkerboarding. Why aren't they just checkerboarding up to 4k? Are they checkerboarding to 1800p, then upscaling conventionally from that checkerboarded image to 4k? Wouldn't that cause checkerboarding artefacts and blur, the worst of both worlds?

I feel like there has to be some miscommunication there.

Because it sounds like mass effect will be sub 900p native (at 30fps ?) by the looks of things on the og ps4.
 

10k

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The confusion is more Mass Effect Andromeda saying it's 1800p checkerboarding. Why aren't they just checkerboarding up to 4k? Are they checkerboarding to 1800p, then upscaling conventionally from that checkerboarded image to 4k? Wouldn't that cause checkerboarding artefacts and blur, the worst of both worlds?

I feel like there has to be some miscommunication there.
I think the pic is showing errors. It should say 1800p native and then checkerboard upscales to 4K from there.

Technically any pro game that isn't native 2160p is gonna be using the checkerboard upscaling method.
 
Dec 11, 2010
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Because checkerboard 4k is not native 4k.

Edit: Checkerboarding to 1800 and upscaling is exactly what they (and lots of other devs) are doing.

Because it sounds like mass effect will be sub 900p native (at 30fps ?) by the looks of things on the og ps4.

I think the pic is showing errors. It should say 1800p native and then checkerboard upscales to 4K from there.

Technically any pro game that isn't native 2160p is gonna be using the checkerboard upscaling method.

Well this isn't confusing is it!

:p

To be completely unambiguous, you'd need to know:

What resolution is the game internally rendering at?
What resolution is the game displaying to the TV at?
If it wasn't native 4k, which methods were used to upscale it?
 

Liabe Brave

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My question was:

Why 2160p checkerboarded, if 2160p = 4k ?
As I tried to express with the colors, in checkerboard half the pixels (the green ones) aren't rendered conventionally. Rather, they're calculated from what they were last frame, in addition to stored info about how they were moving, enriched by data about the newly rendered pixels (the blue ones) scattered around them.

Doing those calculations takes time, but less time than just rendering them conventionally. So if you can't quite hit native 4K, checkerboard 4K shaves off a little time, allowing you to keep more benefits of the high resolution than using normal rendering at a lower res.
 

2blackcats

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I think the pic is showing errors. It should say 1800p native and then checkerboard upscales to 4K from there.

Technically any pro game that isn't native 2160p is gonna be using the checkerboard upscaling method.

1800p is checkerboarded from 2 900p images(simplified) . Then the 1800p is simply upscaled to 4k.
 

RoboPlato

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The confusion is more Mass Effect Andromeda saying it's 1800p checkerboarding. Why aren't they just checkerboarding up to 4k? Are they checkerboarding to 1800p, then upscaling conventionally from that checkerboarded image to 4k? Wouldn't that cause checkerboarding artefacts and blur, the worst of both worlds?

I feel like there has to be some miscommunication there.

That is exactly what's happening.
 

Liabe Brave

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The confusion is more Mass Effect Andromeda saying it's 1800p checkerboarding. Why aren't they just checkerboarding up to 4k? Are they checkerboarding to 1800p, then upscaling conventionally from that checkerboarded image to 4k? Wouldn't that cause checkerboarding artefacts and blur, the worst of both worlds?
As the red bar shows, everything below 2160p checkerboard does also require an upscale. But as resolutions go higher, the blur from upscaling gets less obtrusive. (Your eyes can detect a 900p --> 1080p upscale much easier than an 1800p --> 2160p one, even though the percentage is the same.)

As to why use checkerboard in these cases, it's cheaper than the same resolution rendered natively. So the choice is actually between 1800p checkerboard (artifacts, plus a little blur) versus, say, native 1440p (no artifacts, but heavier blur). Devs appear to differ on what they prefer. Particular engines or assets may react better to one or the other, I assume.

I think the pic is showing errors. It should say 1800p native and then checkerboard upscales to 4K from there.

Technically any pro game that isn't native 2160p is gonna be using the checkerboard upscaling method.
I don't believe either of these things is true. It's my understanding that any checkerboard below 2160p uses standard upscaling to get to 3840x2160. Do you have a link to an explanation otherwise?

And there's definitely at least one PS4 Pro game that does not use checkerboard at all, and is simply upscaled: Uncharted 4.

To be completely unambiguous, you'd need to know:

What resolution is the game internally rendering at?
What resolution is the game displaying to the TV at?
If it wasn't native 4k, which methods were used to upscale it?
For the second question, if PS4 Pro is connected to a 4K display, all games exit the console at 3840x2160. The infographic shows some of the answers to the other two questions. Blue pixels are the internal render size. Green pixels indicate checkerboard was used to upscale*. Any screen shown under the red bar uses normal upscaling (sometimes in addition to checkerboard).

*Note that checkerboard is probably more accurately referred to as "reprojection" rather than "upscaling", but I used your terminology for clarity.
 

onQ123

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You left out 4K Geometry Rendering & 4MP temporal injection rendering


Also I don't think BF1 is checkerboard rendering even though I heard DF say that it was.
 

Fisty

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1800p checkerboard = game is checkerboard rendered at 1800p, and then scales to 4k or 1080p depending on your TV

2160p checkerboard = game is checkerboard rendered at 4K, and is displayed as 4K or scales down to 1080p, depending on your TV

I'm assuming 1800p checkerboard + upscale looks better on a 4K TV than a 1080p-1440p upscaled. I am sure that 2160p checkerboard looks much better than 1080p-1440p upscaled to 4K. Most AAA games are probably going to max out around 1440p native without some heavy lifting, so they go with checkerboard for a "good enough" result. Frostbite games will probably be a bit more demanding.

Best part is, they all look way better than 1080p on a 1080p screen
 

ClayKavalier

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I think the pic is showing errors. It should say 1800p native and then checkerboard upscales to 4K from there.

Technically any pro game that isn't native 2160p is gonna be using the checkerboard upscaling method.

That's how I understood it as well. Checkboarded games are rendered at 1440p/ 1800p/ whatever than checkerboarded up to 4K. I've been under the assumption that this checkerboard thing is basically a form of upscaling.

I have no real clue about the technical details of any of this though.
 
May 19, 2005
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The confusion is more Mass Effect Andromeda saying it's 1800p checkerboarding. Why aren't they just checkerboarding up to 4k? Are they checkerboarding to 1800p, then upscaling conventionally from that checkerboarded image to 4k? Wouldn't that cause checkerboarding artefacts and blur, the worst of both worlds?

I feel like there has to be some miscommunication there.

I has to be noted though, that 3200x1800p resolution resolves a lot better on a 4k than say 720p on a 1080p tv. The lower resolutions made a bigger difference in blurriness on a regular HD screen but with with higher and higher resolutions it's far more favorable. At 1800p there is just that much more added detail and resolution than 1080p even if not fully 4k, and the checkerboard tech seems pretty elegant way of handling it if you don't have the bruteforce to natively handle it.
 

Brad Grenz

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That's how I understood it as well. Checkboarded games are rendered at 1440p/ 1800p/ whatever than checkerboarded up to 4K. I've been under the assumption that this checkerboard thing is basically a form of upscaling.

You're wrong. Checkerboard rendering is not a scaling technique. You select a target frame resolution and then sample the scene at half the rate before filling in the missing pixels algorithmically using a suite of temporal, motion and color buffers. There is no such thing as "checkerboarding up" to a resolution.

The graphic is pretty good. Only thing missing is temporal injection which would be difficult to depict in this manner.
 

ArmageddB

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??????? Holy balls ??????????

I just keep trying to tell myself with the Pro ... "I'm getting the best console experience possible "

But it's hard not to get caught up in the details. I must know!

Also, I thought I read somewhere that checkerboarding was done in 3D space, while upscaling is only 2D.

It seems like PS4 hardware takes care of the checkerboaring so hopefully it's pretty easy for devs to implement.

I imagine it's like a coach giving a shot of steroids to athletes as they run out onto the field. It's cheating, but no one knows until the drug test (Digital Foundry).
 

Tagg9

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I appreciate the attempt, but a literal image of a checkerboard does not help to explain how it works. I'd prefer to see every image type in terms of a native 4K screen.
 

Liabe Brave

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You left out 4K Geometry Rendering & 4MP temporal injection rendering
I thought about including them, but they're even more complex than checkerboard, and the graphic was super busy already.

Also I don't think BF1 is checkerboard rendering even though I heard DF say that it was.
Replace with Infinite Warfare, then.

That's how I understood it as well. Checkboarded games are rendered at 1440p/ 1800p/ whatever than checkerboarded up to 4K. I've been under the assumption that this checkerboard thing is basically a form of upscaling.
From what I understand, checkerboard isn't really upscaling. Some pixels get rendered normally into a "swiss cheese" framebuffer, and then checkerboard is used to fill in the holes. The fill techniques can be similar to what happens during a regular upscale--averaging of adjacent values, for example--but usually augmented by additional data. And checkerboard is not scaling the entire buffer to a different size. Thus it'd probably be better to call it a "reprojection" or "interpolation" technique.

Sometimes, after checkerboard, additional scaling is necessary, and done the normal way. But 2160p checkerboard does not need scaling at all.
 

onQ123

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I think the pic is showing errors. It should say 1800p native and then checkerboard upscales to 4K from there.

Technically any pro game that isn't native 2160p is gonna be using the checkerboard upscaling method.

Please stop this! Checkerboard rendering is not a upscaling method.
 

Liabe Brave

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I appreciate the attempt, but a literal image of a checkerboard does not help to explain how it works. I'd prefer to see every image type in terms of a native 4K screen.
Well, the graphic isn't trying to explain checkerboard, but show different approaches including those (that's why the heading is "Some PS4 Pro rendering solutions"). But I took a stab at half-describing with the color coding, so my fault for teasing a more complete explanation.

Checkerboard really deserves its own graphic.
 

backbreaker65

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That's the ticket make a thread about a games resolution without knowing the games resolution outside of rumors. I will wait for the mass effect developer to state their resolution and what techniques they used.
 

onQ123

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I thought about including them, but they're even more complex than checkerboard, and the graphic was super busy already.


Replace with Infinite Warfare, then.

Yeah it would be kinda hard to show them in that same picture. great work by the way, it's needed with all the confusion that everyone seems to be facing when it come to PS4 Pro.
 

Liabe Brave

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If I understand correctly one of the first games to use checkerboard was killzone shadowfall?
No, to my knowledge Rainbow 6 Siege was the first game to use checkerboard. Shadowfall's multiplayer uses a different reprojection method. Instead of checkered blocks of pixels, it rendered every other column of pixels, and reprojected the alternating half. This is similar, but had limitations that Pro games don't: lower final resolution, no hardware acceleration of related calculations, and potentially bigger artifacts due to larger continuous sections of reprojected pixels. Siege's checkerboard only overcame the last factor, but not the others. Results on Pro games should be better across the board (which appears borne out by the titles so far).
 

Pancake Mix

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2160p checkerboard?

Isn't that 4k already? what are they checkerboarding there.

The simple answer to all this marketing talk is to realise that "checkerboarded" means it's rendering below the resolution that is followed. If you ever see that word, it's not native.
 

sn0man

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From what I understand, checkerboard isn't really upscaling. Some pixels get rendered normally into a "swiss cheese" framebuffer, and then checkerboard is used to fill in the holes. The fill techniques can be similar to what happens during a regular upscale--averaging of adjacent values, for example--but usually augmented by additional data. And checkerboard is not scaling the entire buffer to a different size. Thus it'd probably be better to call it a "reprojection" or "interpolation" technique.

I agree that it uses neighbor pixel data. The info graphic should say "green squares are derived from neighboring blue squares*" and then at the bottom *may also use prior frame or geometry information."

There is a good digital foundry article.

Also, great work: this is helpful.
 

onQ123

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The simple answer to all this marketing talk is to realise that "checkerboarded" means it's rendering below the resolution that is followed. If you ever see that word, it's not native.

Wrong checkerboard rendering can also render every pixel but be broken down to smaller jobs.
 

Brad Grenz

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I appreciate the attempt, but a literal image of a checkerboard does not help to explain how it works. I'd prefer to see every image type in terms of a native 4K screen.

But checkerboard rendering literally creates the image using a checkerboard pattern. If it helps you rasterization always occurs on half of the pixels in the full target image. I think it's useful to think of this as being sampled at half rate. There's no way to reduce this "in terms of a native resolution".
 

sn0man

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The simple answer to all this marketing talk is to realise that "checkerboarded" means it's rendering below the resolution that is followed. If you ever see that word, it's not native.

Very true you are not getting a full set of native resolution pixels. What's difficult to convey is that unlike upscaling, cb-ing does render the entire set of pixels for a given resolution but some pixels are rendered with less accuracy to others.
 

Brad Grenz

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I agree that it uses neighbor pixel data. The info graphic should say "green squares are derived from neighboring blue squares*" and then at the bottom *may also use prior frame or geometry information."

This is not accurate because neighboring pixel information is the fall back, it always uses temporal motion data and the ID buffer to estimate a color value first.
 
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You realize you will see every game in 1080p/4k as your output right?

I don't know if you are being facetious, but pixel counts will still vary regardless of final scaling output.

Meaning like say a 1080p rendered game will still show up as a ~2 million pixels on a 4K tv.

Checkerboard rendering will show the equivalent of what resolution they are aiming for on a 4K tv, eg. checkerboard 1800p would would pixel count 3200x1800 and 4k will show the same pixel count as ~8 million pixels in the final image, that's way it's such a elegant solution if you don't have the raw power to push that many pixels natively.

Pro has hardware assisted tech to help checkboard, mind you it's not free, it takes resources in the end still rendering higher resolutions, but you can get the benefit of the final image of that many pixels just the same, while a simple upscale can't do that as upscaling won't give you more resolution information to resolve but checkerboard rendering can.
 

sn0man

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This is not accurate because neighboring pixel information is the fall back, it always uses temporal motion data and the ID buffer to estimate a color value first.

Since I'm not a developer and I've not read digital foundry's article or watched sonys talk recently I'll defer to you.

Question: when you say fallback, does nearest neighbor not get used at all or is it blended after those other sources of information are used?
 

soco

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Why not just do a public google spreadsheet that just has the resolution and whether it's checkerboarded?


This basically just says there's a lot of ways to not do 4k
 

GhostTrick

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I don't know if you are being facetious, but pixel counts will still vary regardless of final scaling output.

Meaning like say a 1080p rendered game will still show up as a ~2 million pixels on a 4K tv.

Checkerboard rendering will show the equivalent of what resolution they are aiming for on a 4K tv, eg. checkerboard 1800p would would pixel count 3200x1800 and 4k will show the same pixel count as ~8 million pixels in the final image, that's way it's such a elegant solution if you don't have the raw power to push that many pixels natively.

Pro has hardware assisted tech to help checkboard, mind you it's not free, it takes resources in the end still rendering higher resolutions, but you can get the benefit of the final image of that many pixels just the same, while a simple upscale can't do that as upscaling won't give you more resolution information to resolve but checkerboard rendering can.


 

burgerdog

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I don't know if you are being facetious, but pixel counts will still vary regardless of final scaling output.

Meaning like say a 1080p rendered game will still show up as a ~2 million pixels on a 4K tv.

Checkerboard rendering will show the equivalent of what resolution they are aiming for on a 4K tv, eg. checkerboard 1800p would would pixel count 3200x1800 and 4k will show the same pixel count as ~8 million pixels in the final image, that's way it's such a elegant solution if you don't have the raw power to push that many pixels natively.

Pro has hardware assisted tech to help checkboard, mind you it's not free, it takes resources in the end still rendering higher resolutions, but you can get the benefit of the final image of that many pixels just the same, while a simple upscale can't do that as upscaling won't give you more resolution information to resolve but checkerboard rendering can.

First one down!
 

DPtheGod

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I have a question. I had to start the Pro in safe mode and reset my resolution to 1080p as that's what my TV supports. Its not HDR compatible. Am I stuck in the native 1080p mode with no benefits?