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Ssnake

SB Pro PE 4.0 Hardware Recommendations

57 posts in this topic

All right, this is going to be a difficult topic for a variety of reasons. But the results of our internal benchmarking are trickling in and a few trends can already be seen.

 

  • Difficulty #1: Compared with Steel Beasts Pro 3.0 the frame rates have taken a significant hit. We're basically dying from a thousand paper cuts, and have already dealt with some of them. But there isn't enough time left to make significant progress right now. Just because you know what needs to be fixed doesn't mean that it's easy to do, or quick to accomplish.
  • Difficulty #2: There is no clear winner. My eight-core i7 @3.5GHz with a GTX980 doesn't fare much better than my four-core i5 @2.9GHz with GTX980M. In fact, the same notebook with the integrated graphics chip HD4600 can still run 4.0, albeit on minimal graphics settings rather than the default ones.

 

So far, everything we tested (with a single exception) falls into the "low performance" category (orange, in the 3.0 color code) which we define as "the lowest frame rate must still exceed 24 FPS"; the next higher category (yellow) we defined at "average frame rate >36 FPS AND lowest frame rate >30 FPS). In our benchmark scenario, NO hardware setup managed to accomplish this, and I don't think we'll see that anytime soon. The exception was an older AMD FX-6100 machine with a Radeon HD 6700 where the battalion sized battle in the end made the frame rate dip just below 10 FPS, presumably with default graphics settings.

 

Now, what does that mean?

Surprisingly, this is less disastrous than it may sound. At least on both of my machines the "feel" of the benchmark scenario wasn't that bad. The particle system doesn't kill performance per se, the new terrain (once made available to you) won't either. But of course nobody likes low frame rates. Here are some ideas:

 

  1. Cutting back on graphics settings CAN help to stabilize the frame rates, particularly on older/weaker machines. Disable the shadows, reduce the ground clutter to a minimum, disable antialiasing if you must. These three steps alone will usually bring a useless 10 FPS stutter to 20...25 frames where you can still aim at moving targets from the gunner's position.
  2. Reducing the screen resolution from 1920x1080 to 1280x720 can help a bit too and may not be such a terrible compromise to make.
  3. Above all, enjoy the bad weather!  Now, this may sound terrible, but hear me out: First of all, rain and snow are new and you want to try out these options anyway. Second, on my fast machine (i7, GTX980) reducing the visibility from 6km daysight to 3km helped to boost a certain scene from 40 to over 60 frames per second, a 55% increase. And for a European autumn day 3km visibility is actually somewhat above average, so it's not even unrealistic. Not every machine will profit from this strategy, but most of the machines that we tested do. One machine even almost tripled its daysight frame rate. Thermals profit less from this option, and the i5/intel HD4600 didn't change its frame rate at all - but still.

 

In the meantime we will apply more band-aid. Lots of it. Like I wrote, we know where it's coming from and we know what must be done. Not everything can be done quickly, but SOME of it can and will be done in the coming months. To that extent there's hope that over time the efficiency of our render process can be improved enough to increase the visibility again to distances that you're accustomed to.

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What link?

 

4.0 installation files?

Too early. But at least we now know where we'll end up on release, performance wise.

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so your saying these issues are becasue 4.0 ghx are not fully optimized yet, but eventually will work better?

 

 but as  general observation has happened with some other games or sims, its sometimes a case of DX9 rendering being older and simply just bottlenecking newer generation hardware. ( even high  end CPUS & GPU)

 

Either way with this keep up the good work, IL still be happy if we get a  summer 4.0 debut with only  the updated 3d tank models.

Edited by Kev2go

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21 hours ago, Ssnake said:

Surprisingly, this is less disastrous than it may sound. At least on both of my machines the "feel" of the benchmark scenario wasn't that bad. The particle system doesn't kill performance per se, the new terrain (once made available to you) won't either. But of course nobody likes low frame rates. Here are some ideas:

 

Can you please clarify?

 

What does 'wasn't that bad' mean, in terms of a FPS #?

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8 minutes ago, Apocalypse 31 said:

 

Can you please clarify?

 

What does 'wasn't that bad' mean, in terms of a FPS #?

 

I suspect it depends on a myriad of factors so his hardware combination might give him X FPS whilst yours might give you Y FPS.

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21 hours ago, Ssnake said:

My eight-core i7 @3.5GHz with a GTX980 doesn't fare much better than my four-core i5 @2.9GHz with GTX980M.

 

Doesnt sound like it. 

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His two machines gave results that fall into the region with minimum FPS at 24-30fps.

This would be too poor for counterstrike or battlefield twitch fests. In the context of SB Pro, this is actually usable, thus "not too bad".

This is what I personally took from his posts. YMMV.

When I had a ti420 frame rates were around that level, or a bit below and were quite acceptable. With a GTX970 they are quite a bit higher, but the overall behaviour is not enormously different.

 

Edited by GSprocket

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1 hour ago, Apocalypse 31 said:

Can you please clarify?

What does 'wasn't that bad' mean, in terms of a FPS #?

 

I stand by our version 3.0 categories. I'm not redefining them:

 

For an "unusable" rating the average frame rate in a test would be under 20 frames per second. Some people say they can still work with 15 FPS, but our threshold is 20. Anything less than that, don't bother, period.

 

For a "not recommended" rating the average frame rate in a benchmark scenario would be under 24 FPS.

A "low" performance rating is defined as an average frame rate above 24.

To earn a "medium" performance rating the average frame rate must exceed 36 FPS, and the lowest recorded frame rate would be above 30.

For "good", it must be 48 FPS average, and 40 FPS minimum.

"Great" performance is defined as an average frame rate avove 55 FPS.

 

 

Like I said, we stand by these categories. That there currently is no known hardware configuration that would perform better than "medium" (an eight-core Xeaon processor, a GTX 1080, and 32 GByte system RAM) only says one thing, that we, eSim Games, cannot be happy with the performance of our engine. I won't sugarcoat this. So, we must do more to optimize things. The question is, shall we not release anything until we improved the performance, or should we at least give everybody the choice to decide for himself.

 

Personally, the low performance (between 22 (low), 63 (top), and 39 FPS (average)) appears "fully usable". But someone else - you! - may have a different opinion about it. So, while I wouldn't be exactly "happy" about this kind of a performance from an "almost top of the line" hardware setup, at least _I_, personally, wouldn't feel cheated either if I had just bought a 4.0 upgrade license. But I would also understand if some other guy said that he would rather wait for better performance.

 

 

 

However, in the light of all this, keep in mind that roughly the same performance can be had from rather mediocre hardware setups as well. Just look at the i5 processor (2.9 GHz) with integrated graphics chipset HD4600. For heaven's sake, it's an Intel graphics processor, and you can still squeeze an average of nearly 34 FPS from it in this benchmark, albeit at minimum settings. So that's not too terrible IMO, and it shows that even weaker systems can still get a somewhat useful performance out of SB Pro PE 4.0 in its current form.

At the same time it is imperative for our development team to improve the overall performance in 3D scenes (from the map screen, everything runs just fine at 60 FPS). We will invest time and effort to improve here.

 

 

A few words about our benchmark scenario. It starts with a "maximum overdraw" situation where you look in high magnification into a deep forest, both in daysight and in thermal view. Since theremal views generally have a 3x longer render distance, it's no surprise that the day view generally performs better. The same scene then changes from 6,000m visibility to just 3km, and usually yields an about 40% frame rate increase.

 

The next scene shows a frame rate for a vehicle commander in the unbuttoned eye view in a rural environment.

 

Then follows a busy street scene inside a larger town with hundreds of pedestrians around.

This is then subject to some intense artillery shelling which, contrary to my expectations, actually doesn't change the frame rate much. So, this counts as our "urban combat" test.

 

Finally there's a big battle with one company team defending against a reinforced mech battalion's assault. Here we look at the frame rate when there are a lot of line of sight calculations are involved. Finally we look at the frame rate at the end of the battle when there's a lot of burning vehicles around that emit a lot of smoke and fire particles.

 

In other words, I tried to create a benchmark that reflects the reality of Steel Beasts scenarios. It's demanding, as are our performance categories. Even with SB Pro PE 3.0 only few hardware combinations will earn the "great" performance seal. This, by the way, says more about the (lack of) efficiency of the Steel Beasts engine. It's a constant reminder that we need to get better. 

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Im not expert, but.. isnt part of a problem sticking to DX9 old architecture?

If you upgrade engine to dx11 or dx12 it should gain HUGE fps if for nothing else then for pure fact that hardware supported tessalation and multi gfx CPUs of different type can be used to render scene together?

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Shocking news. So the performance is bad in general - but as the thread title suggest, do you have any hardware recommendations?

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, BigBadVuk said:

Im not expert, but.. 

 

 

Famous last words.

 

Maybe the guys eSim are paying to look into the problem have already thought of that?

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1 hour ago, BigBadVuk said:

Im not expert, but.. isnt part of a problem sticking to DX9 old architecture?

If you upgrade engine to dx11 or dx12 it should gain HUGE fps if for nothing else then for pure fact that hardware supported tessalation and multi gfx CPUs of different type can be used to render scene together?

 

DX12 is Windows 10 and up only, so that would probably not go over very well, and would also likely be far more work than using properly utilizing DX9.

 

SB 3 renders graphics very inefficiently, often sending many thousands of draw calls per frame. There's a fixed amount of overhead per draw call so you can end up wasting lots of CPU time just grinding away at drawing each individual cluster of grass, each segment of fence, each lamp post, and each copy of a particular building over and over instead of using instancing which, simply put, tells the GPU "Here's an object, draw it at all the locations in this list," which is far more efficient.

 

1 hour ago, daskal said:

Shocking news. So the performance is bad in general - but as the thread title suggest, do you have any hardware recommendations?

 

He didn't say the performance was bad, just worse.

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Quote

....The question is, shall we not release anything until we improved the performance, or should we at least give everybody the choice to decide for himself....

 

Thanks Ssnake for the detailed situation report B|After reading all the performance status I'm still think I'm ready for 4.0 and will happily wait for upgrades that sure will give better performance in the future. The ones that want to wait can wait for the patches and keep playing 3.028. And all happy ^_^

 

After reading all that also give me a grim expectation for a July release, even if the decision is to release now/upgrade later.  Please what are the chances that we still have for a July release? The next chance if we miss this shoot is december directly? I think that the better performance+new terrain maybe it can be achieved next year (deep in the year). Just speculating. After reading the engine problems (thanks for sincerity, really appreciate it) I start to think that will be a long road for have a full 4.0 working at 100% power. Patience. Love the sim (like all here) that is why each day is getting longer and longer more after the 4.0 preview videos. Thanks!! ps: like always, sorry for my english.

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6 hours ago, Gibsonm said:

 

Famous last words.

 

Maybe the guys eSim are paying to look into the problem have already thought of that?

Maybe :)

 

But i dont see a reason not to switch to something which will speed you up. IT will have to happen eventually sooner or later.

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  1. "July release" could still happen in the first week of August. But by July 31st we will at least know whether the important issues that we're still fighting with have been addressed. If not, I'll call it off. And yes, the next chance would be in the range December '16 ... February '17.
  2. The team knows quite well what must be done in order to make a transition to DirectX 11 or higher. Unfortunately that's not a small task (actually, it an effin' big one!) and 2013 I made the fundamental decision to go for the high resolution terrain first. So, my fault entirely. On the other hand, what good would be a DirectX 11 powered Steel Beasts that looks exactly like 3.0; you would have burned me at the stake just as well for a decision to boost reasonably good frame rates to much higher ones without any practical benefit, but stalling development in other areas for it. Also, at the time our .mil customers didn't know what kind of computers and operating system they would have in 2015/16. So, in the light of this uncertainty, I chose work on the terrain to improve the looks.

We're a bit behind with that work, admittedly, but if you look at the Marder Youtube video you'll admit that high res terrain looks much better and allows for more interesting tactical combat. So I still think that I made the right choice.

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Thank you for "1" Ssnake! B| all fingers crossed for that 1st week of August!! ;) we have our target now, will be a tense wait :ph34r: muchas gracias! ^_^

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I am left scratching my head a bit.

I considered to get an extreme wide monitor for my Assetto Corsa needs, a 29" thing. For that, I considered to upgrade my graphics card from a 660GTX to one of these new 1060 that are com ing out this month. Something in that range. My rig is a proven and reliable i5 2500K with 8GB RAM and W7.

Now what would SBP benefit more from, an updated CPU or GPU? I mean is the sim more CPU-dependent due to the physics and LOS calculations, or more GPU-dependent? I assume it is the first...!? I probably would not gain much in SBP by a newer GPU, maybe even lose in frames due to the wider screen and more pixels?

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Wow, these forums have heated up some what in the last few days.  IMO eSim, please wait until the upgrade project has reached all of it's goals before you release.  If this means that the civilian fan base waits till 2017 then so be it.  I mean look at the Division, lots of delays there.  I don't use PE for what it's real reason is intended to be, I just enjoy pretending - I can't jump into the real thing and do a company level exercise with 100's of others but I wish.  I think I saw a posting of a picture around here once that showed a Leopard 1 of some type all tied into Steelbeasts Pro, wow.  Release when fully ready please, not before. 

Edited by CalAB

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17 hours ago, Rotareneg said:

 

DX12 is Windows 10 and up only, so that would probably not go over very well, and would also likely be far more work than using properly utilizing DX9.

 

SB 3 renders graphics very inefficiently, often sending many thousands of draw calls per frame. There's a fixed amount of overhead per draw call so you can end up wasting lots of CPU time just grinding away at drawing each individual cluster of grass, each segment of fence, each lamp post, and each copy of a particular building over and over instead of using instancing which, simply put, tells the GPU "Here's an object, draw it at all the locations in this list," which is far more efficient.

 

 

He didn't say the performance was bad, just worse.

 

so for any future developmets or upgrades to 4.0 making a compromise to settle for Dx11, since that does not require win 10.  and is compatible with Windows 7/8 systems.

Edited by Kev2go

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12 hours ago, Ssnake said:
  1. "July release" could still happen in the first week of August. But by July 31st we will at least know whether the important issues that we're still fighting with have been addressed. If not, I'll call it off. And yes, the next chance would be in the range December '16 ... February '17.
  2. The team knows quite well what must be done in order to make a transition to DirectX 11 or higher. Unfortunately that's not a small task (actually, it an effin' big one!) and 2013 I made the fundamental decision to go for the high resolution terrain first. So, my fault entirely. On the other hand, what good would be a DirectX 11 powered Steel Beasts that looks exactly like 3.0; you would have burned me at the stake just as well for a decision to boost reasonably good frame rates to much higher ones without any practical benefit, but stalling development in other areas for it. Also, at the time our .mil customers didn't know what kind of computers and operating system they would have in 2015/16. So, in the light of this uncertainty, I chose work on the terrain to improve the looks.

We're a bit behind with that work, admittedly, but if you look at the Marder Youtube video you'll admit that high res terrain looks much better and allows for more interesting tactical combat. So I still think that I made the right choice.

I think Matt "Wags" Wagner can take some well constructive criticism, on how to handle customer service from you sir. You are what all "Devs" should aspire to; on handling of customer relations.  I salute you! ~ 

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5 hours ago, Skybird03 said:

I am left scratching my head a bit.

 

Yeah, I can relate to that. :o

 

Quote

What would SBP benefit more from, an updated CPU or GPU?

 

Instinctively I would have said that a CPU upgrade would be more benficial. But then again, looking at the comparison between my notebook's i5 at 2.9 GHz and the desktop PC's i7 at 3.5GHz, the frame rate differences aren't that dramatic. If your other games will profit from the GTX1060, go for it. Assuming that we succeed in improving the overall efficiency of our render engine in the coming months, the performance gains would then be biggest for people with faster graphics cards as the CPU bottleneck is gradually being widened.

 

Like with all predictions about the future, this one comes with a bit of uncertainty as well. But the way I see it, we don't really have much of a choice. I don't see CPUs becoming significantly faster in their single thread performance. We've had a CPU clock stagnation for five years now, which is in pretty remarkable contrast to the past 50 years of microprocessor development. Growth seems to come mostly from getting done more instructions per cycle, and from parallelization; parallelization however has its limits, at least when we're looking at the two...12 CPU cores realm (note that I'm not alone in this. One of the Intel big wigs said in a 2014/15 interview that "parallelization was a failure" (in the sense that it turns out to be almost impossible for all practical matters to actually double or quadruple performance of code by rewriting it from single threaded mode to parallelization)).

 

Now, some processors are looming on the horizon that promise to bring 32 cores within the next one or two years. Maybe this more substantial step up will increase chances to boost performance. But right now turning legacy code into parallelized code in a non-destructive way is a very difficult job if you're expected to continue developing on the feature side of the application at the same time. But what good, for example, is a factor two or four when we increased the line of sight calculation requirements by (potentially) a factor of twelve when we introduced multi-party capability?

 

Anyways, in your situation I would go for the 1060 right now. Even if SB Pro PE 4.0 may not immediately profit from it, other games will. While your other games would ALSO benefit from a CPU upgrade, the overall gain will probably not be dramatic.

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