back to article AMD says Xbox 720 graphics to be good as Avatar

Chip maker AMD has hinted that the Xbox 360's successor will be able to deliver computer graphics to match those in James Cameron's movie Avatar. In an interview with the US incarnation of the Official Xbox Magazine, AMD exec Neal Robison claimed that gamers have "a lot to be excited about", the Examiner reports Robison …


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  1. Craig 12

    I remember when...

    The N64 gfx was meant to be as good as the T2 movie special effects (1995 Next Generation magazine). Similar claims were made about the PS1 weren't they?

    I honestly don't believe the next gen consoles can ever come in and render in real-time what huge clouds of computers took 12 months to render only a few years ago.

    1. Wize

      Might depend on how much is rendered on the go.

      They might get moving characters fully rendered and have pre-rendered backgrounds, which might give a similar look...

      But, as you say, no way that level of power is available so soon.

    2. stucs201

      Perhaps they mean... good as the graphics in this Avatar:

      (googles? No smurf icon available, so picked the only blue icon)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I remember when they claimed the "emotion engine could animate lifelike emotion on the faces of characters", and don't we remember the hype surrounding the cell chip in the current playstation.

    The shock and horror of it all, marketing guys full of shit ;)

  3. Dave 62

    the fuck?

    "would pave the way for every pedestrian in games such as Grand Theft Auto to have an individual mentality." o_O

    Spoken like a true guy-who-doesn't-know-a-fucking-thing-about-game-design.

    How do you quantify "as good as Avatar" anyway? Does this mean playing on The 720 will require being a dribbling, mindless, hot-topic clad drone?

    Movies looked better when they used latex and macaroni anyway. I'm not even being nostalgic or Ludditean.

  4. Sooty

    being able to...

    ...and actually seeing games that do it are very different things.

    I've seen plenty of real time rendered graphics card tech demos, even from years back, generations of graphics card ago. They were really impressive!

    I've still not seen any games that actually look like that though.

  5. Rich 30


    I'll beleive it when i see it. Shenmue was supposed to be 'photo-realistic' wasn't it?

    I'm looking forward to seeing what can be done with the next gen consoles though. It would seem that PC gaming progression has slowed down to be more in line with console progression. For that reason, i see the next big leap being when they release the new xbox/playstation. I just hope these new consoles aren't too Wii-ish, ie not too many gimmicks. I'm not a huge fan of Move/Kinect.

    1. Wize

      Its cheaper... throw in some blocky graphics than design a a high resolution character in a game. Takes time and money. Especially when its just generic background ones.

    2. Piro

      Shenmue still looks great

      Sure, there's pop-in as characters move in and out of proximity, and the loading times aren't great, but some of the models are great (watch Nozomi on the passport disc, for example)..

      The animations were pretty good. Countless games I've played don't have anywhere near the same level of attention to detail. Quick example: stand with one foot on the curb, one off. Your knee will be bent and you will stand naturally.

      Every other game I could think of at the time.. and many now, simply either make you float or clip through the terrain.

      Calling it photo-realistic is a stretch, but for the time, on hardware that only had 16MB RAM, 8MB graphics RAM, 100MHz GPU and 200MHz SH-4 CPU, I think it's fair to say it was fantastic.

    3. Piro

      Just to follow that up with a link

      Here's what I mean by the graphics on the passport disc:

      Sure, it's not rendering a whole scene with models of this detail, but this, in real time, in 1999, on a Dreamcast? I'd argue Shenmue deserves a whole lot more respect than maybe it gets, for this.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      A Title

      "It would seem that PC gaming progression has slowed down to be more in line with console progression. For that reason, i see the next big leap being when they release the new xbox/playstation."

      The only reason the PC progression has slowed is because all the games companies are focusing the majority of their development efforts on consoles. Developing for a console-level feature set then porting to PC afterwards, maintaining the console feature set on far superior hardware.

  6. Southern

    omg teh graffix!

    Yes, yes, it is visually amazing, but does it offer a decent playable experience? Where's the depth? Where's the innovation? Moreover, how the hell are game developers supposed to take advantage of all this power and to actually deliver a game before development time spirals out of control?

  7. Greg J Preece

    Smells like bollocks

    Remember the PS3 pre-launch "screenshots"?

  8. LaeMing Silver badge

    Graphics like Avatar

    So everyone will be blue?

  9. Gerard Krupa

    Just a misunderstanding

    What he actually meant to say was that the graphics on the XBox 720 will be as good as the PLOT of Avatar.

  10. Lamont Cranston

    My PS2 was supposed to have cinema quality graphics,

    and to interface with my digital camera to map faces on to the game characters. Ooh, look, a firewire port (containing lots and lots of dust).

    Yeah, right. We only really find out the true potential of consoles when they near their end of life, and developers get used to pushing them the limit.

  11. JeeBee

    Crush marketing people into a paste, then burn the paste, then bury it in a volcano.

    I hope they imbue all of the pedestrians in the next GTA with the personalities and traits of marketing ...runts. Then I will not feel bad in any way when I drive over them. And reverse over them. And drive over them again. And again. And again. The game won't need a story-line, it can just be GTA: Squish Marketing ...Runts.

    I hope the pedestrians' blood will pool accurately in the gaps between the nicely tessellated cobbles, as the vehicle crushes the body using accurate physics to model car-on-bone crunching.

    Except a Smart car, that would bounce off a pedestrian.

  12. Sleepy 3
    Thumb Up

    Rules of the Interweb # 37

    Avatar is Rubbish. Decry it from a height at every opportunity and you shall gain the adoration of millions.

    1. Tom 35 Silver badge

      bury it in a volcano

      No the Volcanos are full scientology aliens, you will have to fire it into the sun.

  13. Lee Dowling Silver badge


    Thanks, stopped me having to come up with other excuses not to buy a Microsoft console:

    1) Unfulfillable sales-spin of the highest order.

    Seriously, stop talking shite. Do you mean it can render in HD? Do you mean it can render X million polygons a second with full shaders etc.? Or do you mean I can put up a pre-rendered image and say "It's as good as Avatar" (not that I've even seen the movie, nor care)? Because what you WANT people to think you mean is vastly different to what you ACTUALLY mean. What you WANT people to think is that this is equivalent to a modern supercomputer churning for months on end - in reality, it'll be underpowered compared to a recent gaming laptop.

    2) The games I get most enjoyment out of are almost inversely proportional to the time / effort / processing spent detailing the characters.

    Games development is already far too long and far too expensive and I wouldn't touch a game that advertised itself on the basis that it "looked more realistic". It just means they spent more time on the artwork and less on the gameplay. Any idiot can rent Avatar if that's the sort of thing they want to look at - personally, for me, a games console plays games.

    3) The AI claims are utter tosh.

    What you mean is that the individual pedestrians have a handful of attributes and select one of many pre-selected options as to what to do (run, shoot back, hide, etc.). That's *NOT* AI. It's simple heuristics. And it doesn't matter if you do it with one or a million on-screen characters, it doesn't mean they are doing anything other than the same pre-scripted actions that every game of that sort has. Show me a problem where you can just throw more power at something and get "better" AI and I'll demonstrate that it's not AI at all.

    And in terms of gaming - I've yet to see any significant advance in "AI" players in decades. Hell, most AAA titles still have things getting stuck in walls, being lured to certain death one at a time without the rest noticing, walking into quite obvious traps and literally being manipulated by the player into dying in the way the player wants. "True" AI doesn't make for fun games at all, anyway.

  14. Giles Jones Gold badge


    Except that developers take a long time to get the most out of the hardware since they make it too complex to program.

    PS3 for example, CPU, GPU and about 8 maths engines (FPU type thingies). People thought the PS2 was bad enough.

    People rave on about Minecraft and that looks naff, which shows that realistic imagery is for people lacking in imagination.

  15. jai

    this is going to get me to buy one

    Avatar was visually stunning, yes. But without any kind of interesting plot to inspire me to watch it a 2nd time or buy it on dvd.

    If the 720 is getting compared to Avatar, then i'll wait for the PS4 with hopefully more substantial and stimulating gameplay rather than pure visual gimmickery

  16. Mike Richards Silver badge

    The graphics will be great

    The games however will be exactly the same as the current generation.

  17. envmod

    "graphics to be as good as avatar"

    lol good one.

  18. Ilgaz

    So they invented a realtime raytracer?

    Avatar like works require raytracing which has almost nothing to do with GPU way of doing things.

    There must be thousands of CPUs with insane amounts of RAM with custom-one time use code must be involved in Avatar.

    If AMD invented a way to reach raytracing quality on cheap CPU/GPU, Intel would go out of business today.

    Poor Mr. Cameron, he always does the state of art level and marketing guys target him because of that. Funny that, T2 isn't a legendary sfx movie because it is pure computer, old school effects were also used where it fits more. Avatar? Its secret is also a good way of using 3d.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GTA AI?

    "would pave the way for every pedestrian in games such as Grand Theft Auto to have an individual mentality."

    At what point do in-game characters start to fight for their life?

    Witness random drive-bys and they start hiding?

    Attacking in groups?


    At what point in AI does it transition from removing a sprite from an array to an inhumane act on something which has real intelligence?

    Virtual murder?

    Not holding my breath anyway, N64 was meant to give SGI workstation-style graphics.

    Every console is a compromise of technology, development-ability, and cost.

  20. Citizen Kaned

    yeah... riiiiight

    my new £350 nvidia 580 cant even come close to that yet.

    i seriously doubt the new ATI card will be, what? , 100x more powerful?

    the fact that cameron's techies couldnt even render in realtime and i bet those machines are vastly superior to any console we will see in the next 20 years

    if they can i will order a 720 now, but i smell bullshit

    1. James Hughes 1

      Some interesting 'facts'

      According to Wikipedia...

      "To render Avatar, Weta used a 10,000 sq ft (930 m2) server farm making use of 4,000 Hewlett-Packard servers with 35,000 processor cores running Ubuntu Linux and the Grid Engine cluster manager. The render farm occupies the 193rd to 197th spots in the TOP500 list of the world's most powerful supercomputers"

      Can't find exact figures, but render time of 5-8hr per frame doesn't seem too absurd.

      Of course this render farm was created 5 years ago, so is pretty outdated now. And of course they use CPU's to do all the rendering, not GPU's (AFAIK). Avatar was 4k I think, so rendering at 1080p also gives you quite a speed gain. ie about 20minutes per frame at 1080p.

      So a state of the art multi GPU based console running at 1080p would need to be 480times faster that the individual (5 year old) servers used on Avatar, which actually seems vaguely possible.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: James

        Not sure if my maths are right, but at 5hr/frame... assuming 24 fps and a 90 min runtime, that would mean 2.95 years to render the movie. 6 years if, which I think they do, you really have to render 48 fps for 3D. Not trying to nitpick here, but that seems a little off.

        Regarding the rest, thumbs up :)

  21. john devoy

    of course it bollocks, its marketting

    I'll be impressed if the next gen consoles are any better than a dual gtx 580 could manage.

    1. Citizen Kaned

      you mean

      a 590 :)

      anyway, i would be impressed if the games are all HD. most are 720 upscaled and many are barely above SD and upscaled. they need to quit with the HD bullshit if they just mean its 100x100 upscaled to 1080p.

      1. ph0b0s

        2 x 580 = a 590, Erm no

        You need to look at the specs better. The 590 is basically two 570 gpu's put on one board, with some extra memory. A 590 is nowhere near as fast as two 580's. It even sometimes stuggles to be as fast as two 570's.

        1. Citizen Kaned


          double the ram of a 580

          double the cores of 580

          the 570 only has 400+ cores. not 512.

          i might be wrong but IMO them figures count for themselves. i can still whack in another 580 if i need to :)

          1. ph0b0s


            You have the specs right, it stuck in my head as having the same spec as two 570's, due it performing like two 570's if not worse. Checkout the benchmarks at a site like this:

            The 590 has been so under-clocked due to the heat caused by the two GPU's on the one card that it cannot compete with two single cards.

            Cards like the 590 are really for people who don't have enough room for two cards so need both the GPU's on the one card. The only advantage the 590's have is you can do quad SLI vs 580's tri SLI. But then with the performance difference, I don't know what out of quad 590 vs tri 580 would be fastest.

  22. John Savard Silver badge


    Xbox 560? Xbox 720?

    Really now. They don't need to keep increasing the numbers that much.

    Xbox 370 or Xbox 470 might be about right. Or, if they do want to say they're skipping a generation, how about Xbox 390?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I raise you one...

    I am waiting for the time they won't render asphalt as a texture, but as an actual 3D object where you can zoom in and see the individual chunks of rock embedded in shale.

    In real time. With ray-tracing.

    That doesn't happen today with top-of-line GFX cards, didn't happen in any puny $300-quid-on-release-console and for sure won't happen in PS4, 5, or 6. or Xbox 720.

    It could have happened on Avatar, though.

    Marketing, smarketing.

    1. ph0b0s

      Halfway there

      Well, with tessellation these flat textures are now becoming 3D objects. But since everything you see, even 3d objects and characters, have textures over them.

    2. jason 7


      The GPU in the next Xbox will be whatever they can get from AMD for $10 a unit.

      I'm guessing a 5770 or lower spec, say 5750 with a few custom tweaks.

      After all it only has to handle the increasingly dissapointing and limiting 1080p standard.

      1. Steven Roper

        I'll raise you another

        I'm waiting for the day you can stand on top of a video game mountain and gaze out to the horizon over 100+ km of tree-covered 3D terrain, instead of the terrain fogging out to the skybox at 300 metres view distance like all the games of today do.

        (I know flight simulators render to 100+ km distances, but try getting out of the plane and walking into a pub in one of those!)

        1. Piro

          I could be wrong

          But at some point you're going to hit issues with the curvature of the earth if you try that in real life.

          There are some seriously impressive draw distances in games, play Just Cause 2, for example.

  24. ph0b0s

    What PC's capable of today you mean....

    "Xbox 720 graphics to be amazing and will match what PC's are capable of today."

    What cracks me up with these comments is not the outlandishness of saying you will get real time Avatar like graphics, which is laughable. But then again I do seem to recall there being a story of Nvidia demonstrating real time ray tracing using a couple of Fermi based GPU's no too long ago, so maybe not as laughable as it first seems....

    The thing that makes me laugh the most is you don't need to wait for next gen consoles to arrive to see this stuff as next gen consoles will be using hardware you can find in PC's today. You really think AMD are going to invent a new revolutionary GPU just for the 720. No, they will use architecture that already exists in their PC products, as they did with previous console gens. In fact the GPU they put in will not even be cutting edge as price and heat will be a concern. The way this could be different is if console pricing is set to increase drastically.

    I am not saying that currently PC games reflect this, as we all know no-one uses all the power that PC's have as they just concentrate on what consoles can do. The same holds true with AI and physics which will be CPU based and suffer that same restrictions.

    The basics of console hardware design are as follows. Look at what is available on the PC market and then work out, out of what is available, what will fit your heat and cost requirements.

    What will be great is that with consoles hopefully be moving to DX11 hardware, so more devs will start to develop for the features there. More powerful CPU features like better AI will be good also. But by the point these new consoles launch the PC will probably be on DX12. So PC owners we be peeved no-one is using DX12 feature due to consoles not having it, and the cycle will start again.

  25. GeorgeTuk


    Clearly, as they always say this before any console launch well not the Avatar bs but really overstate the capabilities because no one ever questions them about it.

    Now if you came out and said your soon to be released car was like Tron lightbike then brought out a Sinclair C5 you would never recover your reputation but in video games seems acceptable to come out with outlandish claims.

  26. SteveBalmer

    What's the point thou

    When Microsoft's sloppy cheap-as-chips and rushed to market manufacturing means it's unlikely to last more than a few months at best.

    1. Eradicate all BB entrants

      ah yes...

      ..... just a shame they don't have tight quality controls like Sony, for example the PS1 blu-tac cd spindle that melted after an hours use, almost the entire initial batch returned to us, the PS3, that wondrous answer to all of your blu-ray needs, except when it stops reading the discs after a few months.

      Maybe its the sloppy cheap as chips manufactoring that allowed MS to fix/replace affected units without charging, and the bespoke McLaren-esque factory conditions and build quality that forced Sony to charge its customers for their ineptitude?

      Or maybe MS spent the profit on proper server security for Xbox live?

  27. tmTM

    Rummoured to be at next years E3??

    It was rumoured to be at this years E3.

  28. deegee

    It is coming...

    but I doubt to the Xbox 720.

    I work in the game biz, and we are getting there, sooner than many people think, at least regarding the video quality on high-end consumer PC systems. The game play and story is still bad (just like hollywood movies are), and AI is still an under-developed area, however...

    Watch these in the HQ version if you have not seen them yet.

    Actual gameplay footage from Battlefield 3 coming soon:

    Epic UDK promo, games can look like this now if you have the top-end hardware, and if the developer has the money to produce the content:

    Current mainstream video card high-quality T&L polycounts are ~2M+ in-game, fill-rate is still a bit low but it is increasing quickly, plus 2GB/4GB+ frame buffers which will only increase with time.

    Give PCs five more years (3 to 4 more video card iterations) and near-movie quality video games will be quite possible on mainstream systems -- but the cost to produce the titles will rival top movies which will strictly limit their production and release. Only the select few franchises will produce the high end content.

    Gameplay will still typically suck though.

    1. jason 7

      Thats the big problem.....

      ...the poly counts and textures increase but the game stays the same old same old.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        re: Thats the big problem...

        Not that it would be bad for a game of Chess if it could be ray-traced.

        How about that then? A full-blown ray-traced chess game fully rendered to all its glory, in real time, as a technology demonstrator.

        - It is fully 3D;

        - It can change appearance (er looks, rendering material) on the fly;

        - It is, in terms, a small scene to render;

        - It would be great as an screensaver.

        1. Lamont Cranston

          Be cheaper/easier to buy yourself a chessboard,

          surely? Fully 3d, and tactile to boot. Still won't be as much fun as Battle Chess, though!

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