Gamesutra have a good interview
) with Hao Chen, the Senior Graphics Engineer at Bungie, discussing the engine tech they are currently developing for their upcoming game. The studios return to independence after being owned by Microsoft also detached them from the Xbox-exclusive Halo franchise and opened up a new world of multi-platform possibility.
OXM -- in their official xboxing ways -- latched onto the comment that the Halo games were "grossly under-utilizing" the Xbox 360 CPU cores, but the more interesting story here for those of us of the multi-platform persuasion is that the Halo creators are attempting to "future proof" their new engine tech, wanting to be ready to squeeze the most out of the next generation of consoles from the moment they launch (whenever that may be).
"We re-architected our graphics engine, and the primary reason is the need to go multiplatform and get ready for the next gen. The first challenge is to abstract out the platform differences and still be efficient for each platform.
"The other challenge is to have a good architecture for multi-threaded, multi-core designs that allow us to distribute work across different hardware threads, and have as many things execute in parallel as possible."
This has led to some interesting revelations. "We found out that even for Xbox 360, we were grossly under-utilizing the CPU, mostly due to our multi-threading design that doesn't allow us to spread the work and execute them in parallel," Chen admitted. "So we redid the whole architecture in the new engine.
"An even bigger challenge is to future proof the engine so when the next generation of consoles is here, we are already pretty good at squeezing the performance out of it. For example, we want the ability to have a particle system to run on the GPU for the 360, SPU on the PS3, and compute shaders on the future hardware, and this requires good design up front."
Presuming Bungie's new game will include a Windows PC offering, this is particularly good news for PC gamers as it means that, like the recently acclaimed Battlefield 3, this is another upcoming game that won't be hobbled by the lowest common denominator of the current console incumbents.
Based on the lack of information and media on the game however, it's likely still a long way off, so let's hope we find out more soon.