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Dynamic Resolution

DynamicRes_FN1.png

Dynamic Resolution adjusts the primary screen percentage according to the previous frames' GPU workload. The resolution adjusts (as needed) based on a heuristic, for example, when there are too many objects on the screen, or if there is an expensive effect that suddenly enters the frame. The GPU rendering time will increase, and the resolution of the screen will be lowered to maintain the targeted frame rate.

Enabling Dynamic Resolution

You can enable Dynamic Resolution for your project by using Operation Mode to set how it can be overridden and used in your game. To control this, in your project's per-platform configuration profile (or device profile) for your platform (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, etc), you can use the following console command:

r.DynamicRes.OperationMode

Use one of the following values to set how the Operation Mode works for your project's platform:

  • enables Dynamic Resolution based on the Game User Settings state (set in C++ or in Blueprint).

  • 2 enables Dynamic Resolution regardless of the Game User Settings state.

After enabling Dynamic Resolution, the following console variables set the minimum and maximum screen percentages, and the maximum budget of any given frame before it lowers the resolution. There are default values that are in place until you do set them:

Console Variable

Default Value

Description

r.DynamicRes.MinScreenPercentage

50

Sets the minimum screen percentage to use.

r.DynamicRes.MaxScreenPercentage

100

Sets the maximum primary screen percentage that is used to allocate render targets.

r.DynamicRes.FrameTimeBudget

33.3

Sets the budget of the frame (in milliseconds).

You can use the Device Profiles window in UE4 to set up the configuration files and manage them for you. You can access this window through the file menu by selecting Edit > Developer Tools > Device Profiles.

Pausing and Resuming Dynamic Resolution

At times, you may need dynamic resolution enabled for project but not in areas like the main lobby. Dynamic resolution can be paused and resumed alongside Operation Mode. The following console variable can be used to set the Operation Mode of Dynamic Resolution:

r.DynamicRes.OperationMode

Value

Description

0

Disabled (Default)

1

Enabled based on the setting used in GameUserSettings.

2

Enabled regardless of the setting used by GameUserSettings.

The table below outlines the different states that are available when a specific operation mode is enabled or disabled and how GameUserSettings is affected:

Game User Settings = False

Game User Settings = True

Paused

Not Paused

Paused

Not Paused

OperationMode=0

No

No

No

No

OperationMode=1

No

No

No

Yes

OperationMode=2

No

Yes

No

Yes

In C++, you can use the following functions to control and check the status of dynamic resolution:

Action

C++ Function

Pause

GEngine->PauseDynamicResolution();

Resume

GEngine->ResumeDynamicResolution();

Check Status (Disabled/Enabled or Paused)

GEngine->GetDynamicResolutionStatus();

The functionality provided by the C++ functions in this table for Pause and Resume can be achieved by enabling or disabling the node Set Dynamic Resolution Enabled. To check the status, use the node Is Dynamic Resolution Enabled.

Using Stats

There are several stat screens that you can enable to debug performance with Dynamic Resolution. You can enable them by opening the console using the backtick ( ` ) key and entering one of the following commands:

  • Stat Unit is used to look at the overall frame time as well as the game thread, rendering thread, and GPU times.

  • Stat UnitGraph is used to see a graph with the Stat Unit data.

  • Stat Raw outputs unfiltered data using Stat UnitGraph.

Stat Unit

When Stat Unit is called, you can immediately see if dynamic resolution is enabled for your scene by referencing the DynRes line.

DynResOFF.png

Once enabled, DynRes label will show the Primary Screen Percentage  and the Secondary Screen Percentage  :

DynResON.png

The primary screen percentage is displayed here for the X and Y so that you don't forget that it is scaled on both axes. The number of pixels drawn by the GPU is actually proportional to Screen Percentage x Screen Percentage.

An example would be 1920x1080 or 1280x720.

Stat UnitGraph and Stat Raw

When Stat UnitGraph is called, a graph will be drawn to show the Primary Screen Percentage  chosen by dynamic resolution.

StatUnitGraph.png

  1. Timings (Filtered or Raw)

  2. Target Frame Time Threshold

  3. Dynamic Resolution Max Screen Percentage

  4. Dynamic Primary Screen Percentage Curve

The UnitGraph can show the primary screen percentage that is chosen by Dynamic Resolution. However, that curve is proportional to the amount of pixels drawn by the GPU using Screen Percentage x Screen Percentage.

Additionally, you can get unfiltered (raw) timings in the UnitGraph by using Stat Raw to toggle between filtered and unfiltered. The timings label of the graph will change to indicate that it's displaying raw timings.

Raw Timings

Filtered Timings

Toggle between filtered and unfiltered timings by using the console window. Before Stat Raw can toggled, Stat UnitGraph must first be entered.

Dynamic Resolution Cruising

The implementation of Dynamic Resolution in UE4 is a little different than others that have been used before because we allow for the resolution to change as needed within a given range rather than being constrained to a single resolution (1080p, 900p, 720p). In this example graph, this model demonstrates what the console variables control. It demonstrates how dynamic resolution automatically adjusts within a given range (3) when everything is running fine and not over budget for the given frame. Think of this range as the cruising altitude for an airplane where it can move freely around this altitude range for an ideal speed to get to its destination. Like the airplane, the resolution does the same thing by going up and down as need to maintain a good balance of resolution and adequate performance.

This model is for demonstration and doesn’t consider everything that is happening in a given scene. For example, it does not capture what the GPU not being synced with the CPU would look like, or even that the heuristic is making the right guess of how much to change the resolution. It’s purpose is to clearly demonstrate the “ideal” circumstances to show how the dynamic resolution console variables operate.

FrameGPUGraph.png

Reference Number

Console Variable

Description

1

r.DynamicRes.FrameTimeBudget

The frame's time budget measured in milliseconds (ms).

2

r.DynamicRes.TargetedGPUHeadRoom

The headroom left for the GPU to increase before going over budget (in percentages of the frame's budget). This will likely depend on the shipping platform or according to what rendering features are enabled. For example, motion blur needs additional room for cost to account for fast rotation of camera movements.

3

r.DynamicRes.ChangePercentageThreshold

The minimal changes that are required in percentage to actually resize the allocation. It is useful to not constantly change between a very close resolution size. If the value is too small, it may end up constantly changing the resolution, and if it's too large, it may cause a higher risk to go over the GPU budget.

4

r.DynamicRes.MinResolutionChangePeriod

The minimum number of frames before any resolution changes are allowed. This command has multiple purposes. These include having a better reliability of the heuristic to model the GPU consumption at a given primary screen percentage despite the measurements noise, being able to avoid Temporal Upsample's input sample offset interference that can occur between per-frame offset jittering, and the changing resolution that can be responsible for anti-aliasing divergence.

You can also use the following console variables to adjust the history of the heuristic used for dynamic resolution and a screen percentage to use if you’re CPU bound instead of GPU bound:

Console Variable

Description

r.DynamicRes.HistorySize

The number of frames in the heuristic frame history. If it's too short, the history may be too noisy for the heuristic to be reliable, or if it's too long there may be very delayed adjustments.

r.DynamicRes.CPUBoundScreenPercentage

The primary screen percentage that should be targeted when you are bound by the CPU. It's useful to set a lower screen percentage to decrease the resolution on platforms where the CPU and GPU are sharing the same memory bandwidth.

Over Budget Panic

If you find that dynamic resolution is going over budget very quickly, like during a camera cut or when an expensive visual effect happens, the heuristic that is used can’t actually predict when this will happen. In these cases, a “panic” switch is used to quickly lower the resolution when it does happen to reduce the number of frames that are over budget. If the heuristic finds that N (some number) consecutive frames with the available GPU timings is over budget, it is going to immediately adapt the resolution to combat these over budget timings. It will also perform an automatic history reset so that the previously less expensive frame timings do not influence the heuristic for the more expensive frames.

Use the following console command to control the maximum number of consecutive frames the GPU can be over budget before flipping the “panic” switch to lower the resolution:

r.DynamicRes.MaxConsecutiveOverbudgetGPUFrameCount

In this graph, the frame receives a sudden jump that puts it over the set budget of 33.3 ms for more than two frames consecutively. The panic switch is activated to quickly lower the resolution so that the frame is no longer over budget.

OverBudgetPanicGraph.png

  1. Max Consecutive GPU Frames that are over budget.

  2. The frame latency between detection and resolution change caused by the GPU being not synchronized with the render thread. 

  3. Panic detection happens to trigger the drop in frames.

  4. The resolution change occurs for the given frames.

In the following captures (taken from the Infiltrator demo that is available on the Learn tab of the Epic Games Launcher), the Stat Raw command is used to clearly identify scene behavior when there is a camera cut or when an expensive visual effect happens on the screen:

Click image for full size.

  1. After the camera cut, the frame becomes significantly more expensive to render, at least for a few frames. 

  2. Dynamic resolution has a panic reaction and quickly lowers the resolution to compensate before gradually rising back to normal again.

Click image for full size.

  1. A visual effect happens that is more expensive to render causing a spike that is the allotted frame budget for more than a couple of frames. 

  2. Dynamic resolution acts quickly by lowering the resolution before gradually rising back to normal again.

Testing Content with different Primary Screen Percentages

If your project has enabled dynamic resolution, you'll need to test it and make sure that it doesn't look significantly different than intended when using a lower primary screen percentage. At lower resolutions, some details can be lost and your assets may not retain the look that you intend them to have. For this very reason, all Editor Viewport can set a Screen Percentage using a slider for testing.

Click image for full size.

Editor Screen Percentage: | 100 (default)

Editor Screen Percentage: | 50

When adjusting the screen percentage slider, the viewport (lower-right) will display any value for Screen Percentage that is higher than 100. This is meant as a reminder that the viewport screen percentage value has been changed to one that is not default and can potentially cause performance issues since it’s using a higher than normal resolution.

Editor_ScreenPercentageIndicator.png

Screen Percentage values higher than the default value can cause sluggishness or a decrease in performance for the Editor. When this happens, try resetting the value to the default of 100.

Supported Platforms

Currently, the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 (excluding PSVR), Nintendo Switch, and Oculus VR support Dynamic Resolution. Additional platform support is planned for future Engine versions.

Enabling dynamic resolution for non-whitlisted platforms is dangerous and can have unintended consequences. This could include having the wrong GPU timings which could unnecessarily drop the resolution or increase the resolution too much and drop frames. Ultimately, it could ruin the gameplay experience. By default, the Engine does not allow you to use non-whitelisted platforms.

Replacing Dynamic Resolution Heuristic in C++

The engine-provided render thread heuristic is completely self-contained within DynamicResolution.cpp. The architecture is set up so that it allows the heuristic to be fully replaceable by Plugins in game code.

For example, if your project needs to replace the default heuristic because you want to do something like game play code giving hints of what is going to happen in the next frame, you can rewrite the entire heuristic to do just that. By implementing IDynamicResolutionState and ISceneViewFamilyScreenPercentage, you can replace the default dynamic resolution states, like the example below:

GEngine->ChangeDynamicResolutionStateNextFrame(new FMyGameSpecificDynamicResolutionState());

The renderer will now work with ResolutionFraction to avoid the divide by 100 everywhere in the screen percentage math. It is named fraction instead of "scale" because the upscale ratio is done by the TAA upsample or the spatial upscale is actually represented by 1 divided by the Resolution Fraction, like so:

Resolution Fraction = Screen Percentage/100 = 1/Upscaling Factor

Limitations

The following are some current limitations of Dynamic Resolution:

  • It is not supported for use with multi-world Play-In-Editor by design.

  • When TAAU is enabled, it will work with VR. Multi-Sample Anti-Aliasing (MSAA) support will follow in a future release. 

  • The API is fully compatible with the mobile renderer. However, there hasn't been an effort to maintain the view size not being equal to the render target buffer size that is set by the primary screen percentage upper bound. 

  • Gaussian Depth of Field (DoF) and Distance Field Ambient Occlusion  (DFAO) have issues with resolution changes.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are some general frequently asked questions regarding dynamic resolution: 

Can the heuristic for Dynamic Resolution be replaced?

Yes, it was designed to be modular and pluggable in C++. Unreal Engine 4 will only maintain a single heuristic, but the architecture allows for the creation of a standalone custom heuristic with custom game thread events that could be triggered by gameplay code or Sequencer.

Does dynamic resolution work with any arbitrary secondary screen percentage?

Yes. This can be achieved by using the console variable r.SecondaryScreenPercentage.GameViewport.

For additional information, see the Screen Percentage with Temporal UpsampleNEW! page.

Is it possible to control the dynamic resolution of the secondary screen percentage?

No, it's not possible and is by design. You would not want to change the size of Temporal Anti-Aliasing history and is why you should not need to dynamically change the secondary screen percentage.

Why is the function in FPostProcessSettings for ScreenPercentage ignored by dynamic resolution?

This was part of the previous mechanism where screen percentage could be configured in the settings for a Post Process Volume to manually scale up or down. With dynamic resolution, there is no need to set that any longer since it is automatically handled according to the GPU workload.

Why is there not an optional show flag for dynamic resolution in the Editor?

Because it happens globally and at game thread discretion. The screen percentage show flag will only toggle the Primary Screen Percentage .

Why is dynamic resolution not supported in Editor viewports?

Currently, dynamic resolution is only supported for Xbox One ,PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch which don't use PIE. When it is available for platforms (Vulkan, D3D12), you will be able to use it in the Editor with PIE.

Can the Primary and Secondary Screen Percentages be accessed in Materials?

No they cannot. Materials should be rendering independently of the resolution.