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DF Direct Weekly talks PS5 firmware performance, GT7 online/ray tracing and Intel GPU power

Plus: iPhone 13 Pro set to deliver 120Hz gaming.

Welcome the latest DF Direct Weekly - the 29th, in fact! As you are likely aware by now, this is our regular show where DF team members down tools for a couple of hours to discuss the latest in tech and gaming news, kicking off this week with a little behind-the-scenes information on our collaboration with Gamers Nexus in getting to the bottom of the PlayStation 5 CFI-1100 - but also in sharing some more on data gathered during production of that project, where we discovered that the new PS5 firmware seems to have a small, but measurable boost to performance in some scenarios.

Today's latest PS5 system software is yesterday's firmware beta 3.1, where I discovered that in very certain circumstances, the software upgrade results in higher frame-rates on my launch model PS5. This was somewhat problematic during the CFI-1100 review process, where it seemed that my old PS5 was running faster than the new machine - something that shouldn't happen. I got to the bottom of the issue by benchmarking all games three times in order to establish which games varied performance on a per-run basis. And then I repeated the process on a PS5 Digital Edition running the same firmware as the CFI-1100. I discovered that if I threw out the beta firmware data, the new PS5 ran exactly the same as the old PS5. And when I upgraded all of my PS5s to the new official firmware, all of them ran identically.

I benchmarked Control in graphics mode with its photo mode fps unlock, Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition in RT mode, Godfall and Resident Evil Village. Control and DMC5 do not vary by more than one percent on a run-by-run basis and yet the new firmware runs those titles two to three percent faster than before - a curious state of affairs. Resi has dynamic elements that adjust performance slightly each time, while I saw no change at all in Godfall. I'm wondering whether it's perhaps a system level ray tracing optimisation? A couple of percentage points in select scenarios is hardly game-changing but intriguing nonetheless.

Cover image for YouTube videoDF Direct Weekly #29: PS5 Firmware Perf Boost? Gran Turismo 7 Online/RT, Intel GPU Performance!
John Linneman, Rich Leadbetter and Alex Battaglia combine their skills to perpetrate the DF Direct Weekly #29.
  • 00:00:00 Introduction
  • 00:00:22 PlayStation CFI-1100/Gamers Nexus Collab/Firmware Perf Upgrade?
  • 00:12:51 GT7 Online-only situation + ray tracing discussion
  • 00:22:06 Intel slide leak
  • 00:27:57 Steam Deck dev kits are now out
  • 00:30:37 New Nintendo update with Bluetooth audio
  • 00:34:45 iPhone 13 announcement
  • 00:42:00 We've lost Sir Clive Sinclair
  • 00:47:55 AV Receiver HDMI update
  • 00:55:40 DF Supporter Q1: would a custom 8c/16t CPU and four teraflop GPU fit within a mobile power envelope?
  • 00:57:19 DF Supporter Q2: What are the DF team's favourite or most disappointing remakes so far?
  • 01:04:57 DF Supporter Q3: Is it always fair to expect ultrawide support as a standard feature on PC games?
  • 01:09:58 DF Supporter Q4: Why do you think most games aren't currently utilising the hardware blocks for IO on PS5?
  • 01:11:32 DF Supporter Q5: What do you think is the most important next-gen feature developers should focus on?
  • 01:14:25 DF Supporter Q6: Would you ever release any content that goes into depth on what's involved in producing content?
  • 01:18:21 DF Supporter Q7: Do you think that full path-tracing is the "endgame", with traditional rasterization becoming obsolete, at some point of time down the road?
  • 01:22:57 DF Supporter Q8: Why do poor PC ports continue to plague Japanese developed games?
  • 01:26:59 DF Supporter Q9: In your opinion, when does the game become retro?

Returning to the DF Direct line-up, the team discuss GT7's online-only campaign mode, the revelation that ray tracing may only be enabled in replays (according to a Japanese interview with Kazunori Yamauchi, translated by John) and we also discuss a leaked Intel slide revealing that the new Intel Alchemist GPU may top out at RTX 3070 levels of performance. We also continue to bemoan that lack of new 1080p gaming GPUs - though the rumours of the RTX 2060 returning with 12 gigs of RAM could do the trick quite nicely.

Beyond that, we discuss Steam Deck (again), the new Switch firmware revision with Bluetooth audio and the end of John's seemingly never-ending quest to find a working HDMI 2.1 receiver. We also talk about the loss of Sir Clive Sinclair and his momentous impact on the UK gaming industry. I'm probably not the only one amongst us here that started out programming on the ZX81 and Spectrum and even beyond that, he was ahead of his time in so many ways even as he departed the gaming arena, particularly in terms of electricity-driven single passenger transport. The C5 was derided at the time, but Sinclair continued to explore electric vehicles and it's finally becoming the kind of phenomenon that he always knew it would be. He will be missed.

We've got some big changes coming to the DF Supporter Program. We'll be adding an off-topic 'DF After Dark' podcast to our premium and retro tiers, while all supporters will get early access to DF Direct Weekly soon - as good a time as any to jump in, join the discussion, contribute to our brilliant Discord and of course, get properly decent quality download versions of every video we make. We're having a lot of fun with this and hope you want to get involved too.

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About the Author
Richard Leadbetter avatar

Richard Leadbetter

Technology Editor, Digital Foundry

Rich has been a games journalist since the days of 16-bit and specialises in technical analysis. He's commonly known around Eurogamer as the Blacksmith of the Future.