[PCGH Extreme] Technical Q&A with Crytek and Intel (Part 2: Engine/Physics/General)


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[digg]http://extreme.pcgameshardware.de/showthread.php?t=5254[/digg]Part 2 of our Crysis-related interview. You may find part 1 here.

We had to chance to make a massive e-mail interview with Doug Binks, R&D Development Manager Crytek, and Leigh Davies, Intel, regarding Crysis, probably the hottest game in town for 2007.

Engine related questions

PCGH: What is better for the game in general: higher core clock or larger L2-cache?
Leigh Davies, Intel: What is true for the whole system is also true for the CPU. You need a balanced architecture. If you have lots of GHz but an insufficient Cache size to feed the data hungry cores you will end up waiting for the data to be fetched from the far away main memory.

PCGH: How important is the memory performance for the engine? How much will the engine benefit from higher memory/Front-Side-Bus bandwidth, how much will it benefit from low latency ram? (especially with DDR3 in mind)
Leigh Davies,Intel: Weve seen a substantial difference in performance between 1GB and 2GB systems, and when running the highest quality modes on a 64bit system you can benefit from more than 2GB. Weve not investigated the effect of increased memory bandwidth and lower latency RAM, but my guess would be that properly configured these would be of significant benefit.

PCGH: Whats the structure of the engine code? Does the engine use more integer or floating point operations? Will a stronger FPU make the game run clearly faster?
Leigh Davies, Intel: Both are important.

PCGH: Generally speaking, who is doing the major work on floating point operations - the FPU or the SSE-units?
Leigh Davies, Intel: Certain floating point calculations dont make sense to move to the SSE units, but for intensive calculations these can give massive performance boost so both standard FPU and SSE units are important.

PCGH: Does the engine make use of SSE2/SSE3/SSSE3 or even SSE4 instructions? If yes, could you please give us an estimate on the performance benefit.
Leigh Davies, Intel: Yes, with a significant performance improvement of the code converted from ordinary floating point calculations to SSE, though we dont have an overall figure for all the optimizations made in this area.

PCGH: How many CPU power is used by the AI?
Leigh Davies, Intel: This is difficult to quantify exactly as an overall figure for the game, but the during intense combat periods the AI system can be the most significant user of cycles on the main thread.

PCGH: Speaking of shadows: Are they completely handled by the video card or is there some work left for the CPU?

Doug Binks, R&D Development Manager Crytek: The majority of the shadows is done on the video card some work is done on the CPU.

PCGH: What compiler is being used and why? What utilities (Vtune etc.) are used?
Doug Binks, R&D Development Manager Crytek: Were using Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 for the PC, as this is pretty much an industry standard, along with VTune and Intels tools for Thread performance monitoring.


PCGH: Do you use advanced physics simulation? If so, rather for gameplay purposes or to create impressive eye candy like explosions or particle effects?
Doug Binks, R&D Development Manager Crytek: The CryENGINE 2 used in Crysis features our own highly advanced physics engine. Its used for gameplay, explosions and particle effects. By using complex physics the gameplay experience becomes highly emergent, nonlinear and open.

PCGH: As far as we know, there are two different ways of physical interaction in crysis, depending on the Video card you use (at least in multiplayer games). Theres one basic physic mode for Dx9-cards and a more sophisticated one for Dx10-Hardware. Why does that depend on the video card and not on the amount of cpu cores?
Doug Binks, R&D Development Manager Crytek: In the single player campaign the level of physical interaction does not directly depend on whether you have a DX9 or DX10 capable graphics card. In multiplayer only players with DX10 can experience the full range of physical gameplay effects.

General questions

PCGH: How does the cooperation with Intel look like? Does Intel provide Crytek with special engineers?
Leigh Davies, Intel: Intel have worked with Crytek since the beginning of Crysis development. We both share the same vision of the market and how the next generation of games should look like. Intels software developers have supported us in our development, particularly with multithreaded performance enhancements. Intel's contributions also includes tools such as the Intel VTune performance analyzers or the Intel threading analysis tools

PCGH: According to the minimum requirements, gamers are supposed to have a 2,8 GHz CPU this obviously applies to single-core-cpus. Can you give us the corresponding frequencies for dual and quad core processors?
Leigh Davies, Intel: The current entry CPU to the Quad-Core experience is the Intel Core 2 Quad processor Q6600 with 2,4GHz. The game runs well on that CPU. But in the end its up to user as to what effects are turned on or off and what type of gaming experience they want.

Pictures: Doug Binks on the left, Leigh Davies on the right
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