Project Morpheus: Sony talks advantages of fixed hardware, VR refresh rates

Saturday, 22nd March 2014 14:31 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Project Morpheus and Oculus Rift were the hot topics at GDC 2014 this week, with the former in development on a fixed platform, and the latter developed for a system which becomes more powerful each year. It would seem Oculus Rift would have the advantage in the VR sector, but according to Sony R&D senior software engineer Anton Mikhailov, that’s not the case at all.


Speaking with Eurogamer at GDC, Mikhailov said while fixed systems such as PlayStation 4 aren’t revised every year, there’s still an advantage to the hardware.

“We’re in this for the long haul first of all. One thing people forget is what they’ve seen from PS4 so far have been the launch titles – if you look at the difference in quality between PS3 launch and PS3 end of lifecycle, the quality difference is massive,” said Mikhailov.

“The advantage of fixed hardware is, while it doesn’t revise every year, developers continuously find new tricks to employ because it is a fixed platform. There’s a duality there. What you’re seeing currently is a pretty compelling VR experience, and these are tech demos that haven’t been optimized by top games studios. I think we’re in a good place.

“The Castle and The Deep, those are running on PS4. Eve Valkyrie and Thief are running on PC. They’re special builds for Morpheus, but I think you can get a sense of what’s possible with the PS4 with The Deep and The Castle, both of which are running at 60fps – and actually higher than 1080p in some cases.”

Games with high refresh rates, as Mikhailov noted above with The Castle and The Deep, are important for VR, and he doesn’t see issues preventing higher frames per second.

When Eurogamer questioned Mikhailov on the Thief demo for Project Morpheus, the site asked how a game which “struggles to reach 30fps on PS4″ fares on the VR headset.

“The build we have for Thief is running 60fps, but it’s a PC build so it’s not really a comparison,” he said. But The Deep and Castle are both running at 60, and there’s other games on PS4 that are graphically intense that are running at 60. Really 30 or 60 on PS4 is more an aesthetic choice than a technological choice. Of course you can squeeze in more graphics at 30, there’s no doubt, you have double the frame time.

“The reality is that when you’re rendering VR, a lot of the details that traditionally get done in games like post-effects, motion blur – they’re not needed. Things like a lot of the lens effects, a lot of the distortions people do, they’re quite expensive to do in post. You don’t need those in VR, because you’re trying to make a more believable world. So a lot of what people do in current games are camera artifact effects – vignetting, film grain noise – so you save a lot of processing power there first of all.

“There’s also another belief that people think it takes twice the power to render stereo – that’s not true because your physics, your AI, everything runs once when you’re rendering stereo, and a lot of the graphics even only run once. For example, shadow computations can be re-used from eye to eye. So it’s really not a 2x jump going from mono to stereo.

“I think it’s quite feasible to run 60 in stereo for Morpheus on PS4.”

Project Morpheus is still in the development stages, and Sony hasn’t announced when development kits will be available, but “it’s fairly soon.”



  1. Tormenter

    “I think it’s quite feasible to run 60 in stereo for Morpheus on PS4.”

    Didn’t Sony also state.. or rather, STRONGLY infer that 60fps would be a standard for all games on the PS4?

    Yeah.. I think we all know how much marketing blurb is worth.

    It would be nice however if this article did something other than simply state “Sony’s VR is a thing.”… How about telling them to shove their press release until they actually have something YOU can show US?

    Unsubstantiated posturing is SOOO old.

    #1 8 months ago
  2. Panthro



    I find it so hard to believe anything Microsoft and Sony say until I see proof of whatever they’re stating.
    These consoles have been nothing but smoke and mirrors from day one.
    I see the ability to be a fan of the exclusive games a console can give access to but I will never understand the attatchment some people have to the console manufacturers.
    Same goes for the fans of Apple, Nvidia, AMD, and others I just don’t get it. No company is perfect and gets every move right, it would be so difficult to support actions I would normally be against just because I am a fan of the company…

    Rant over. I went a little bit off-topic. I’m bored.

    #2 8 months ago
  3. runbmp

    I know the Oculus is striving to get past the 60Hz mark and are able to do so with the DEV kit 2

    From experience with my first dev kit, you need some horsepower to get you past the 60fps because essentially your GPU rendering two scenes. I usually do… I game with 120Hz in mind and have 4 7970′s running to get the frame rate there,

    Without a doubt there will be some compromises made on PS4 to get the smooth frame rate working along side the response time of Morpheus.

    #3 8 months ago
  4. TheWulf

    That’s a worryingly fallacious argument from Sony. See, the graphics API not changing in Windows very often is almost the equivalent of that. DirectX doesn’t magically gain new features because a new card arrives on the scene, it’s just that new cards allow you to play existing DirectX [whichever version] better.

    The same is true with OpenGL. Though admittedly OpenGL is ahead of DirectX and the consoles, it still doesn’t have huge updates that often.

    So whilst there’s new hardware, all of that hardware has to be DirectX compatible. A better card means you might be able to jam some settings up a little bit higher, but ultimately you’re going to have a very similar experience to another user so long as you have a DirectX [whichever version] compatible card.

    This is something people never really think of when they’re talking about the PC. They treat it like it’s some kind of arms race, and it’s not. Even if we switched over to OpenGL, the cards would be based around being OpenGL [whichever version] compatible.

    So better hardware gives you better performance and allows you to crank some settings up, but until there’s an agreed upon leap by everyone, that doesn’t really happen. I mean, this is why there was no tessellation before DirectX 11 and so on. Each new DirectX version allowed for new kinds of hardware. As will each new OpenGL version if/when the change happens.

    So you have the fixed state on the PC, too. It’s just that if you want to wring more performance out of it, you can get a higher end card. If you’re okay with putting your options (resolution and anti-aliasing especially) lower, then you’re fine with a lower-end card.

    Really, anyone who thinks the PC has an arms race going on is talking out of their arse. And it’s really weird to see a Sony engineer talking out of their arse.

    #4 8 months ago
  5. TheWulf

    I mean, yes, back in the days of Windows 95/98, there was an arms race, but does anyone actually realise how long ago that was? That’s some seriously outdated information right there.

    #5 8 months ago
  6. TheWulf


    Yay! Thank you! I could hug someone whenever I see them say that.

    Throughout my time, I’ve flip-flopped between so much hardware. I was happy to try out a Riva TNT card after my last Voodoo card, and I’ve gone back and forth between AMD and Nvidia between various different card suppliers ever since. The thing is is is that it isn’t just AMD and Nvidia, there are so many graphics card producers, like Asus, Sapphire, Gigabyte, and many others. Over the years I’ve had all sorts of concoctions, and the thing is is that they all provide a similar kind of result, so I just buy the product that gives me what I want.

    If AMD or Nvidia gives me more of what I want, I’m happy to switch. I have no brand tribalism. Currently I’m running an Nvidia card, but I’m thinking of hopping over to AMD for my next card because Mantle is an interesting technology that I’d like to take advantage of.

    My sound cards have been anything between Creative, Turtle Beach, and many others. I’ve even just settled for on-board, whereas other times I’ve had something more fancy. I think currently I have an X-Fi but I’m not actually 100 per cent sure because I don’t fetishise my hardware! 8D It’s just a pile of junk that I do stuff on and play games on.

    With the new consoles, I’ve actually been asking people what the consoles are doing for them, and why they’re buying them. And I haven’t had a single logical, sensible, real world answer. It all comes down to brand tribalism. They just want a new talking point. They want to talk about how great the XBox One is, and how shit Sony and the PC are by comparison, or they want a PS4 so they can talk about how shit the PC and XBox One are.

    Ignoring, of course, the fact that games look the same on all platforms. (Hello titles like Titanfall and Watchdogs.) And that the only difference between titles is some fidelity and extra options, but nothing to go crazy about. And the fact that I get called a Maaaaster Raaaace Eliiiitiiiiist [echo-y voice] because I can put my anti-aliasing up a little higher than an XBox One owner is, quite frankly, fucking ridiculous.

    And this is why I hate brand tribalism. It seems to cut off the air supply to their brains.

    #6 8 months ago
  7. TheWulf

    Essentially, my problem here is that Sony is trying to convince me that their hardware is god because [reasons]. The [reasons] are obviously false, but that’s not even the crux of the matter, the issue is that they’re putting down another platform with these [reasons], and they’re doing this to try and convince me that their platform is the one, true platform. The god platform.

    It isn’t. No platform is that. Shut up, Sony, please. And Microsoft, you too. I’m sick of this. There is no ‘god platform,’ stop using cheap trickery to pull the wool over the eyes of brand tribals, because all that does is it makes any particular societal group more toxic. We waste more time arguing over the bullshit that pours from the mouths of Sony and Microsoft than we ever should.

    The consoles, even, are barely a step up from the 360 and the PS3. This is something that’s going to become apparent over time, which is why I wonder why people would even rush to make the leap in the first place.

    Why buy a Sony console?

    Because Sony is god!

    No, Sony isn’t god. Brand loyalty, which turns into brand tribalism, has to die. It really does. It’s just really winding me up at this point that people are so thick that they buy into this. That they don’t even know why they’re buying into it, just that they feel more validated by having a new brand sitting under their telly. I’m interested in AMD’s new Mantle technology, sure, but as a technology. I’m not rushing out to rebuild my entire computer TODAY because of that, I’m biding my time and watching, because it fascinates me.

    I’m wondering what’s going to come of Mantle, and if it does turn out to be something good, especially something that enables my staying on Windows 7, then it’s going to become desirable. Not because I lust after the Mantle brand, but more because it’s moving quicker than DirectX right now and it allows me to not upgrade to Windows 8. Not only that, but I may be in a good position with an AMD card when the Linux exodus happens. Or I might not.

    I buy what suits me. You know, me, muggins, the consumer. We forget about the consumer, don’t we? Sony and Microsoft aren’t religious zeitgeists to be worshipped. They’re companies supplying products. Can we please start treating them like that again? The PS4 and XBox One are no different than having an Asus Nvidia card or a Gigabyte AMD card. You pick which works for you, and you’re happy for someone else if what they have works for them.

    For the longest time I’ve been happy to be happy for console users. They made their choice and they’re happy with it. But they attack me for my choice, and then they call me the Master Race elitist after they attacked me!!! This is what’s pushing me over the edge. PC users aren’t making me hate console owners. Console owners are making me hate console owners.

    You could just stop insulting me and be happy with the platform you own.

    #7 8 months ago
  8. Djoenz

    Sony never stated that ->

    60fps a standard ? I would hope so for Morpheus games,but Yoshida never stated that. Only the fact it should have no problems hitting that 60fps.

    #8 8 months ago
  9. Djoenz

    What the hell dude? You feel attacked because according to Sony R&D senior software engineer Anton Mikhailov, “The advantage of fixed hardware is, while it doesn’t revise every year, developers continuously find new tricks to employ because it is a fixed platform. There’s a duality there. What you’re seeing currently is a pretty compelling VR experience, and these are tech demos that haven’t been optimized by top games studios. I think we’re in a good place.

    What has this article have to do with PC’s?

    #9 8 months ago
  10. Gekidami

    “What has this article have to do with PC’s?”
    Just the usual PC “tribe” witch doctor feeling his backside aking so he invokes the PC spirits to banish the dirty console savages.

    I’d recommend you do what i do in regards to Wulf; Read the first line of his comments (if that even) then ignore the rest. His boring diatribes are always the same anyway, “PC GUD! CONSOLE BAD! LOOK HOW THEY VICTIMIZE ME!”

    #10 8 months ago
  11. Tormenter


    Re-read what I wrote..

    #11 8 months ago

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