Technologies that will change the PC Gamer.
Five advances in technology that marked a huge leap in PC gaming
The planet of the PC is full of essential technology advances. Its chronicle is so rich that we could intensely create a product summarizing the much more attractive ones and in the end it would "eternalize". I'm not exaggerating, think for a moment in those "honorable retirees" formed by vacuum cylinders that occupied entire rooms, and in what the arrival of transistors meant both in terms of performance and miniaturization.
Personally, I think that that was the most essential and much more important jump of each and every one of us who have lived on the planet of computing, that transition from the vacuum tube to the transistor, and I doubt that we will know something equally dazzling again in the coming years, more than anything knowing the drawbacks that quantum computing has to take off.
If we jump from that general level to a much more specific one, it is easy to realize that the advances in technology of enormous depth in the PC planet had a very different clash depending on each field. Thus, for example, the jump from 8 to 16 bits, and the subsequent arrival of 32 bits, are clear turning points in the professional world, but it is clear that several of the much more essential also had a corner on the planet of gaming, and to them we are going to dedicate this product.
Picking five advances in technology from each and every one that took us from those traditional dot-and-line games to giant three-dimensional worlds with a finish that increasingly approaches photo-realism is, of course, an ambitious approach but it is also correct because it will reduce the consistency and difficulty of the product, and that will make it much more entertaining and comfortable to read. As always and at all times, I invite you to comment and share with us other advances in technology that, for us, have been fundamental.
1.- The use of color was among the greatest advances in technology
Today it is something that has no relevance, but in the eighties color reproduction on the PC planet, and in games, had nothing to do with what we are today. EGA graphics cards could display up to 16 colors at a resolution of 640 x 350 pixels. It was a huge jump, since we went from playing in monochrome (no color) to playing it with a whopping 16 simultaneous colors, but the much bigger thing came in the following years.
In 1987, another of the much more essential advances in technology focused on the use of color in PCs was caused, thanks to the launch of graphic resolutions based on the VGA standard, which could use up to 256 colors on screen with a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. This represents a colossal advance that is very difficult to understand for those who did not experience it at the time, but do not worry, I have loved to show it to you with three images of DOOM, the traditional one from 1993.
As you can see, the jump to 256 colors completely changed the planet of gaming on PC, and although other essential evolutions were generated later in this sense, none was as dazzling or had exactly the same influence as that one. The causes are obvious, think about playing your favorite game today with only 4 colors, or with 16 poorly delegated colors to try to contemplate a colossal void, as the second image shows. Playing 256 colors was a genuine delight.
2.- The democratization and standardization of three-dimensional graphics
We are able to distinguish multiple stages at this point, and it so happens that the transition from 2D to 3D was quite extensive, and the democratization of that technology was not immediately caused either. Throughout the much earlier stage, three-dimensional games they were quite poor, but in return they worked partially well as long as we had a strong processor.
In the second stage, at the time when the three-dimensional graphics accelerators began to arrive, was at the time when this genre of graphics really took off. Games like Quake GL, Quake II, the first 2 Tomb Raider, Resident Evil 1 and 2 and Half-Life showed the planet the potential of 3D graphics, and also made visible the differences that a 3D accelerator graphics card could make. .
From there, three-dimensional graphics have evolved in each and every one of the senses. every time we had games with much freer levels, much more complicated geometry, and a much truer finish, although there are some titles that marked a before and after on their own merits. Games like Quake III and GTA III are two great examples, and much later titles like DOOM III and Half-Life 2 raised the bar again.
3.- Taming three dimensions: T&L, programmable shaders and unified shaders
The evolution that was gradually caused on the planet of three-dimensional graphics was so colossal that we went from flat and loose worlds, with fully gridded individuals whose faces were just a few blocks with a flat texture glued on, to organic and rich worlds that, sometimes, they could perfectly pass for a scene from the whole real world.
To get to where we are today, a barbaric increase in capacity was not enough, it was also necessary to complete a sequence of advances in technology that I always like to group around three huge keys: T&L, programmable shaders and shaders unified. The first is what is known as transformation and also lighting, and represented a colossal advance in that it freed the central processing unit from an essential workload, which ended up falling on the GPU.
It was one of the key specifications of the GeForce 256, and it greatly improved the realism of the games through transformation development, through which the image is molded to each new frame, and lighting, which reached higher levels of realism. Max Payne 2 is one of the best examples. Programmable shaders made viable that fabulous game of light and shadow that we have seen in DOOM III, and the unified shaders ended the division of premeditated elements to pixels and vertices, marked a colossal advance in concept of wild capacity and defined the foundations of graphics technology today.
4.- Intel 2-core processor: A key step towards creating considerably more complex games
The evolution experienced by the GPU had a colossal relevance in PC gaming, but this should not lead us to underestimate the leap that marked the arrival of dual-core processors with a monolithic design. Intel had now realized what the future of the entire consumer processor world was going to be by the time integrated HT technology into its Pentium 4. This allowed its kernel to work with 2 threads, and it is a feature that has remained as such until today.
It was a first step, but the genuine revolution came through the AMD Athlon 64 X2, which were the first mainstream dual-core processors to feature a monolithic core design. Intel responded with the Pentium D, which in essence were 2 "glued" Pentium 4s and were very much under AMD's choices, but much later it made up for it with the Core 2 Duo, among the much more essential generational leaps in the field of the prominent performance general consumer CPUs.
The jump to 2 physical cores became one of the most essential advances in technology due to the fact that it opened the doors, directly, to another way of developing games for video consoles, where it was feasible to parallelize the workload in 2 finished cores and offer shape to Considerably more complex and rich titles, both in terms of physics and AI (artificial intelligence). It is not random that crisis It was among the first games that required a dual-core processor to run properly, and yes, it managed to load both cores to a hundred%.
Currently we have processors with up to 16 cores and 32 threads, but recent games do not use much more than 6 cores and 12 threads well, and the evolution that has occurred at the technological level I was much less amazing than the leap to 2 cores with the mythical Crysis was at the time.
5.-Dedicated sound cards: The “peep, poop, boom” is over
This is another one of those advances in technology that few of our readers will have lived, but I am sure that those who have done it will agree that it deserves to be in this article without any doubt.
Throughout the second half of the first decade of the year 2000, the recognition of sound cards started to wane with the heyday of built-in sound resolutions on the motherboard. These resolutions largely cannibalized the sound card market due to the fact that, in the end, they offered acceptable quality and allowed the user to save a considerable proportion of money, which could be invested in improving other elements of the PC.
This situation has continued to this day, although I can confirm that the difference between using a sound solution inside and a dedicated card is very large. Now I told you about this at the time we were able to investigate the Sound BlasterX AE-5 Added, but the truth is that the real revolution came with the abandonment of the old "speaker" of the PC and the arrival of dedicated sound cards.
Games from the 1980s and 1990s could make use of the speaker built into the PC, but the result was a group of sounds and noises that, in the most remarkable of situations, they could approach the much more basic quality of an 8-bit system. With the advent of sound cards, the leap was so colossal that it is hard to describe, but in essence it would be something like going from the “stone age” to the “modern age”.
I have loved to illustrate this topic with one of my favorite videos, since it perfectly summarizes that leap that marked the arrival of dedicated sound cards as opposed to the PC "speaker". DOOM from 1993, to serve as an example, is a group of noise sounds and has no music, but with an easy Sound Blaster the experience changes completely and we have the chance to enjoy the carefully watched soundtrack created by id Programa, some fabulous sound effects for the season, and that unique setting made by the noises, grunts and moans of the opponents.
Other advances in technology that deserve lies of honor
As I said at the beginning of the product, even if we limited ourselves to the much more important advances in technology for the world of PC gaming, we could make a huge list, especially if we touch on both hardware and hardware issues. That is not the purpose of this product, but I think that it was unfair to leave three enormous advances in the pipeline partially recent technological ones that have also marked a point of change in the field, and that in the end are not only the present, but rather the future of gaming.
I say that they are the present because, although these advances are now free, they have not yet been able to develop their full capacity and have enough room for optimization, that is, a huge evolution ahead. The first of these advances in technology we have in the SSD entities, an ingredient that went from being an (expensive) extravagance for the professional field to becoming essential in any gaming device.
With an SSD we not only have the possibility to reduce the load times of the games, but we also offer them a base on which to they have the possibility of working at greater agility at the same instant. In other words, it is essential to circumvent performance issues, stuttering, popping and other issues in rigorous graphics engines used to recreate free worlds. However, this ingredient still has a lot of potential pending development, something that will soon change thanks to DirectStorage.
Ray tracing is another advance in technology that marked a huge leap in the world of gaming. I know that it is still in a partially early stage, and that thanks to its high demands at the hardware level it was only applied in a limited way, but Even so, the graphic quality of a game can improve so much that it is overwhelming. Of course, it also has a long way to go, little by little it will progress and thanks to the arrival of little by little stronger hardware, its app will be more and more complicated, and much more interesting.
In that sense, think, for example, of the clash that ray tracing had when applied to Battlefield V, and what happened years later with Cyberpunk 2077. In the first it was only applied to reflections, while in the second it was used in reflections, shadows, ambient occlusion and also global illumination, achieving a simply incredible result, so much so that it belongs to the games that have best used ray tracing.
Finally, there are the advanced rescales that use temporary elements and exclusives. In this bag we have the possibility of putting the FSR 2.0 and the TSR, while the DLSS positions itself on a different rung due to the fact that it uses, in addition to this, AI (artificial intelligence) to reconstruct the image. These upscalers made it possible to play at 4K resolution more smoothly without sacrificing excellent image quality, while also being key to making ray tracing workable at 4K without sinking in performance.
Of course, they also have in front of them plenty of room for optimization. This has now been demonstrated by AMD with FSR 2.0, which optimizes quite a bit in opposition to FSR 1.0, and also by NVIDIA with DLSS 2.3, which significantly reduced the inconvenience of "ghosting". Over the years, we can expect ever-increasing image quality, to the point where it will be almost impossible to distinguish it from native resolution, and ever-increasing performance optimization.
Read also: How to build a Gaming PC.