Unreal Engine 5.1 is now available, and its a big deal for PC gamers

New optimisations, stronger performance, and less stutter

Unreal Engine 5.1 is now available, and it boosts performance and reduces shader compilation stutters

With promises of boosted performance and reduced shader compilation stutters, Unreal Engine 5.1 is a big deal for PC gamers

Starting today, Unreal Engine 5.1 is now available to developers, and it brings to the table some huge changes to Epic Games' latest engine. For starters, thanks to new optimisations and other improvements, developers should now be able to achieve much higher performance levels with Unreal Engine 5, allowing developers to more easily target 60 FPS framerates on current-generation consoles and PC.   

Unreal Engine 5.1's performance improvements come from many areas, including changes to their Lumen, Nanite and Virtual Shadow Map systems, changes to Unreal Engine 5's Temporal Super Resolution system, and additional support for hardware accelerated ray tracing to boost the performance of Nanite.

With Unreal Engine 5.1, developers can now target higher performance levels for their games, which is great news for PC and console gamers alike. Let's hope that this means that more games will be built with high framerates in mind. 

Unreal Engine 5.1's changes to the engine's Temporal Super Resolution system features performance optimisations for 60 FPS performance targets, improved quality and reduced ghosting for certain geometries, and can better detect pixel flickering and moiré to deliver improved anti-aliasing and less ghosting. The feature is also now better able to support anti-aliasing on animated materials. 

      Lumen, Nanite, and Virtual Shadow Maps updates

We’ve laid the groundwork for the Lumen dynamic global illumination and reflections system, the Nanite virtualized micropolygon geometry system, and Virtual Shadow Maps (VSM) to support games and experiences running at 60 fps on next-gen consoles and capable PCs, enabling fast-paced competitive games and detailed simulations to run without latency.

Unreal Engine 5.1 is now available, and its a big deal for PC gamers

For PC gamers, one of the biggest changes to Unreal Engine 5 comes in the form of reduced shader compilation stutters. Thanks to new changes within Unreal Engine 5, PC gamers should be able to expect DirectX 12 games to stutter less frequently moving forward, enabling smoother gaming experiences with less hitching. Moving forward, reducing these stutters and increasing the performance of shader compilation workloads will be a targeted area of improvement for future versions of Unreal Engine 5, and an effort will be made to bring similar improvements to the Vulkan API. 

   DX12 PSO Compilation Improvements

UE 5.1 aims to reduce stalls caused by shader compilation by starting to compile PSOs earlier, when components are loaded, rather than at the point where the object is rendered. This reduces or eliminates the need to manually gather PSO caches, which is a time-consuming process and cannot guarantee perfect coverage.

It is still possible to experience stalls if an object has to be rendered immediately after it's loaded. For the case of background streaming of distant objects, we've added the option to skip rendering the mesh until the PSO is ready, which trades stalls for delays in drawing these objects. Similarly, if a title needs to teleport the camera to a completely new location, or otherwise needs to display many new materials at once, there won't be enough time to compile all the PSOs. In this case, the game code needs to load the materials and meshes earlier, and hint the renderer ahead of time that it will need to draw them.

The existing PSO cache system can still work alongside the new system. It's possible to devise hybrid approaches, where there's a small, manually generated PSO cache containing materials which are known to be needed all the time, or are going to be used after a teleport event, and let the automatic system take care of most of the other materials.

This system is still under development and its performance will improve in future engine releases. It will also be expanded to support other RHIs, such as Vulkan.

Unreal Engine 5.1 is now available, and its a big deal for PC gamers

Unreal Engine 5.1 brings a lot of new features and improvements to the table for game developers, to many changes to detail within this article. If you want to learn more about Unreal Engine 5.1, you can read Epic Game's article on the engine here and see Unreal Engine 5.1's change notes here

You can join the discussion on Unreal Engine 5.1 on the OC3D Forums.

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