View Full Version : Next-Gen Broadband Requirements

August 10th, 2005, 05:14
The next generation of consoles are nearly upon us. Assuming a November release for the Xbox 360, we're but three months away from the first next-gen system. All three consoles promise not only enhanced visuals and some exciting new features, like wireless controllers standard for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and the highly secretive Nintendo Revolution controller, but they also promise greatly enhanced online and network functionality.

The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are both capable of being turned into media centers for your entertainment system as the Xbox 360 has built-in Windows Media Center Extender capabilities and the PlayStation 3 hard drive will ship with a version of Linux. The Revolution too promises great online functionality with Nintendo creating its own online service and even offering NES, SNES and Nintendo 64 games for download and play on the Revolution.

How demanding will the next-gen systems be on an Internet connection though? While the networked media functions and whatnot should work nicely over a fast wireless or 100Mbit wired connection, online gaming and media downloads looks like it may require quite a hefty connection to take full advantage of the systems' abilities.

For instance, many Xbox 360 games will feature support for 64 players online, and many PlayStation 3 games will likely support the same number. Add in full voice support and something like a first-person shooter will already require double the bandwidth of similar 32 player games on current-gen machines. Battlefield 2 for the PC supports 64 players, but you need to be on a very, very fast pipe in order to handle it.

Next-gen games will have a lot more going on that needs to be sent to each player in the game as well. For one, physics systems should be much more advanced than they are in current games, and all of that data will need to be sent to each client. As well, many next-gen games seem to be pushing many, many times more AI characters on-screen simultaneously than current games, so anything with online co-op play will need to send data for each one of those characters. We've heard of games having 2,000 characters/enemies on-screen simultaneously; it would take a massive connection to be able to keep up with that data.

So the question then is whether or not "standard" broadband access will be enough for some of these games. Will a 1.5Mbps DSL connection be good enough, or will gamers need something like a 6Mbps, 10Mbps or even higher to play at the games' most advanced settings? It seems as though college kids may have it best with dedicated optical connections running through their dorms.