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Sponsored Feature: Resident Evil 5 Takes Full Advantage of Intel Core i7 Processors

September 28, 2009 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

One of the things Capcom wanted to do with RE5 was to instill fear even when the environment is bright and easy to scan for enemies. "A lot of horror games do horror in the dark," Svensson said. "It's easy, because people are scared of what they can't see. You can generate suspense about what is coming into the field of view given a very limited lighting condition. When you've got a completely bright African environment, creating that same level of suspense, or fear, is a very different challenge."

Svensson noted that while Capcom has the most credibility as a console powerhouse, Capcom is also planning to expand its presence in the PC market. "PC gaming in general is an area of increasing investment for Capcom," he said.

"A few years back, if you thought of PC gaming and Capcom, you wouldn't actually use them in the same sentence. We're seeing that PCs have pulled so far ahead that basically they can do everything a console can do, at higher resolutions, and at 4x the frame rate. We've come a very long way, in our technology development, in marketing, in community outreach, to bring PC gamers into our family, and we've brought some of our biggest brands, in their best forms in many cases, to the PC."

Svensson points to the power of a new generation of Intel processors as unlocking a growing wave of gaming potential. Freed from the single-thread world of limited possibilities, game developers can truly challenge themselves with interesting "what if?" questions. "What that brute strength and overhead in the new CPUs allows us to do is ask ourselves, ‘What are some of the things we couldn't do on a console that this horsepower now enables?'"

"Some of the new things, like new shaders, DirectX 11 support, better lighting, better depth of field, higher resolutions, higher frame rates, are all possible now, and those are the nice, easy things . . . We just can't give that experience on a console. We think we're providing PC gamers something special and unique to them."

Much of Capcom's success is driven by their investment in the MT Framework, a proprietary game-development engine used for several recent titles. "MT stands for two things: multi-target and multi-threaded," Svensson noted. "We target multiple platforms, with the PC being a key one. ‘Multi-threaded' refers to how our engine deals with multi-core, multi-threaded CPUs and GPUs, and how we can put those technical resources to better use."

Svensson said that for years, the MT Framework team (led by Jun Takeuchi, Capcom Japan's video game director and chief producer of RE5) has been creating a world-class game engine. With help from Intel, that work is starting to pay off handsomely, and Svensson is noticeably proud of the result. "Dare I say that Resident Evil 5 is the game that cements that engine as certainly being among the upper echelon? If Devil May Cry, Dead Rising, and Lost Planet didn't do it, Resident Evil 5 certainly does. The team has long looked at the challenges of multi-core and multi-threaded architectures and the complexity that brings. We made some significant investments early on, and we are now moving onto newer versions of the engine. We support more threads and more cores, across CPUs and GPUs."

Like Intel, Capcom is a member of the PC Gaming Alliance (PCGA), which publishes the annual Horizons Report. The private document provides an accurate estimate of gaming sales with a decided hardware bent. Svensson, a board member of the PCGA, noted that according to forecasts, the notebook and mobile markets are exploding.

How much is the market exploding? Check the news release about mobile gaming on the PCGA Web site: "In 2008, globally there were 42 million desktop consumer PCs and 31 million notebooks shipped that could be used for gaming. By 2013, that annual consumer desktop figure will climb to 59 million and the notebook figure will grow to 118 million. Globally consumer PCs that could play games and gaming hardware market was $68 billion in 2008 and it's expected to reach $143 billion in 2013. The installed base of consumer PCs in the world (desktops and notebooks combined) that could be used to play games in 2008 was 228 million and by 2013 will jump to more than 600 million."

"The market is increasingly shifting to be a mobile market," Svensson said. "Making sure our games run on laptops that are gaming-capable is a no-brainer. The market is going mobile, and we're going to make sure our games are ready."

To do that, Capcom optimized RE5 across the full range of options, from the Intel Core2 Extreme mobile processor to the Intel Core i7 processor Extreme Edition. The game is fully compatible with mid-range and upscale Intel-based motherboards, in all flavors, and including graphics.

The upper end of the mobile market -- premium laptops with gaming chops -- has always been a sweet spot, but the PC space buzz is dominated by systems with cooling towers that protect full-featured multi-core processors. No matter what improvements are made in graphics, the brute strength of the processor dictates how close your home PC is to the bleeding edge and deserves the biggest investment.

Here's some news you can use: not long after its introduction, the Intel Core i7 processor shattered benchmarks and quickly earned a reputation as the "best processor on the planet." (see for additional information) This is what you get with the new Nehalem architecture: Intel Turbo Boost Technology, which provides processing power on demand, boosting the clock speed whenever temperature and power levels permit.

Intel Hyper-Threading Technology provides two threads per core, enabling optimized multi-threading with up to 8 threads on a 4-core Intel Core i7 processor. You get an integrated memory controller, Intel QuickPath Interconnect, and an 8 MB shared cache. For high-end gaming, the Intel Core i7 processor Extreme Edition is the reigning powerhouse.

Intel makes sure that the biggest games work well on their hardware; they spend a lot of effort reaching out to developers and making that the case. As a result, if you've got Intel hardware, you're pretty assured that if it's a big game, it is going to run well.

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