The Unreal Engine 5 tech demo, Lumen in the land of Nanite, has caused quite a bit of excitement since it was released. While we won’t be seeing anything using the technology any time soon, and the engine itself won’t be dropping until next year, that hasn’t stopped a small war erupting between would-be fans of the next-gen consoles.
This escalated after an interview with an engineer from Epic China (which has since been taken down) revealed that the demo seen running on the PS5 ran just as well on a laptop. In fact the PC reportedly ran the demo better, with the PS5 managing 30fps at 1440p while the laptop hit 40fps at the same resolution. The laptop in question is no slouch mind, featuring an Nvidia RTX 2080 graphics card and a 970 Evo Plus.
It feels weird quoting the SSD of the laptop alongside the graphics card like that, but that is the world in which we now live, or rather where we will be living if the next-gen hype lives up to its promise. This is because one of the big selling points of the PS5 is its storage, with Sony claiming a throughput of 9 GB/s (using compression) or 5.5 GB/s in terms of straight throughput. The assumption was that the UE5 tech demo was managing some of its impressive feats because of this throughput, although now looks like it isn’t the case.
For reference, the Samsung 970 Evo Plus that can be found in the laptop has a throughput of 3.5 GB/s, which is great, but it’s not the fastest drive you can buy, and can’t touch the growing number of PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs that can hit up to 5 GB/s. In other words, the incredible fidelity that can be seen by the tech demo isn’t going to be limited by the technology that can be found in modern PCs.
Epic’s Tim Sweeney responded to reports of the laptop performance, although this just added to the confusion, as his initial response was that they were playing the PS5 demo video on the laptop:
They playing the video on the stream. Do you see the “.mp4” in the title bar?May 17, 2020
Tim then shot down more questions with a classic wait and see:
All of the next gen console hardware is unreleased and still under NDA. Early next year, we’ll release the first public preview version of Unreal Engine 5 with full C++ source and everyone can dig into it as much as they want.May 17, 2020
It’s worth reiterating that the Unreal Engine 5 is cross-platform, and it’ll run on the Xbox Series X, the PlayStation 5, and on PCs when it is finally released. So all of this spear waving is essentially pointless anyway, but we wouldn’t want simple facts to get in the way of tribalism.
In (tangential but) related news, a certain Martin Nebelong, has managed to piece together the opening sequence from the Lumen in the land of Nanite using Dreams on the PS4. It’s impressive not just for what the final thing looks like, but simply because it’s all created using the console in two hours (it’s sped up for your enjoyment).