The Unreal Engine 5 demo on PlayStation 5 was the culmination of years of discussions between Sony and Epic on future graphics and storage architectures.
The Nanite and Lumen tech powering it will be fully supported on both PS5 and Xbox Series X and will be awesome on both.
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) May 15, 2020
The Fortnite developer partnered with Sony for the unveiling of its latest middleware, which was shown running “live on PlayStation 5” via the ‘Lumen in the Land of Nanite’ demo.
The PS5 demo showcased two core technologies that will debut with Unreal Engine 5: Nanite geometry and Lumenis dynamic global illumination.
According to Epic’s PR materials, the large and detailed scenes in the demo were made possible by PlayStation 5’s dramatic increase in storage bandwidth, which allowed its artists to use “film-quality objects” of up to hundreds of millions of polygons.
In a separate interview, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney praised PlayStation 5’s “balanced” hardware and claimed that its storage architecture could even influence future PC tech.
Epic has been working closely with Sony for some time on its next-gen storage plans, Sweeney said, which includes a high-bandwidth SSD said to be able to load 2GB of data in one-quarter of a second.
Xbox Series X also has a custom SSD, although its raw throughput performance is said to be half that of PS5’s.
In a tweet published on Friday, Epic boss Sweeney reiterated that the technology showcased in the Unreal Engine 5 demo would run on both PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X “and will be awesome on both.”
The tech will also be available for high-end PCs, while UE5 will run on current generation platforms “with features for scaling the content down,” he said.
In a follow-up tweet, Sweeney insisted Epic had no “secret deal” with PlayStation and that “100% of the stuff we’ve been working on with Sony” had now been publicly announced.
Following last week’s unveiling, Xbox head Phil Spencer congratulated Epic and said that Xbox Game Studios was excited to work with Unreal Engine 5.
“Incredible work by the team at Epic,” he wrote. “Many of our XGS studios are using Unreal, like the team at Ninja Theory creating Hellblade II, and are excited to bring these UE5 innovations to life on Xbox Series X.”
Xbox Series X’s on-paper specs put it slightly ahead of PS5 in terms of raw compute power. However, these numbers do not tell the full story, as PS5 utilises variable frequencies – referred to as ‘boost’ – which theoretically allow the console to hit GPU frequencies far higher than expected, with more compute power able to be extracted.
Xbox’s marketing boss has acknowledged criticism of its recent Xbox Series X games showcase, telling fans that it set “wrong expectations” for the event.