Unreal Engine 5 super resolution feature promises near 4K quality 'at the cost of 1080p'

Screenshot from within Unreal Engine 5 of a character in front of a canyon landscape
(Image credit: Epic, Unreal Engine)

One of the headline features arriving with Unreal Engine 5, which is available to demo today, is the impressive-sounding Temporal Super Resolution, which Epic says will help make possible the high-end graphics we're seeing in tech demos (mostly rocks, so far, but nice-looking rocks).

In brief, Temporal Super Resolution is how our PCs will keep up with all the geometric detail now possible to place into a scene with UE5's Nanite technology and its global illumination technology, Lumen, while maintaining decent framerates. It's billed as an anti-aliasing technique, although much like Nvidia DLSS, there's not much to discern that and what you might consider as an upscaling feature—they're essentially two sides of the same coin.

"UE5's new anti aliasing solution, temporal super resolution, keeps up with all this new geometric detail to create sharper, more stable images than before with quality approaching true native 4K at the cost of 1080p," Epic says.

Epic notes the following benefits for Temporal Super Resolution:

  • Output approaching the quality of native 4k renders at input resolutions as low as 1080p, allowing for both higher framerates and better rendering fidelity.
  • Less ghosting against high-frequency backgrounds.
  • Reduced flickering on geometry with high complexity.
  • Runs on any Shader Model 5 capable hardware: D3D11, D3D12, Vulkan, PS5, XSX. Metal coming soon.
  • Shaders specifically optimized for PS5's and XSX's GPU architecture.

Shaders specifically optimised for PS5 and Series X? That's AMD RDNA 2 optimised, then. 

AMD says it has "worked closely with Epic to optimize TSR features on Radeon powered systems. A standard feature of UE5, TSR is enabled for all GPUs and provides state-of-the-art upscaling not just on PC, but on PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S, too."

The freedom to work across all the common APIs and hardware—Nvidia GPUs included, of course—will certainly be a massive boon to Temporal Super Resolution.

You can actually check out two different screengrabs from UE5 from Epic below, one rendered at native 4K, the other at 1080p and displayed at 4K. You may want to check out the full size images over on the UE5 documentation page to spot the difference.

The native 4K frame manages 18.6 fps, while the 1080p rendered frame hits 43 fps.

Epic says this is a brand new algorithm, created from scratch, that totally replaces the Temporal AA in Unreal Engine 4. Temporal AA has previously played a role in the Unreal Engine, and Unreal Engine 4 already uses a form of it in temporal accumulation. Effectively, this is a way to use data from previous frames (hence "temporal") to add detail to the current frame.

Epic promised its use of temporal data would only increase with Unreal Engine 5 when speaking about the engine this time last year, and it appears as though Temporal Super Resolution is the major new feature in that respect. That 4K performance improvement is certainly nothing to be sniffed at, if it works as promised.

Unreal Engine 5 is coming early 2022, and we're likely to hear more about it between now and then. In the meantime, it's possible to download a taste of UE5 in early access.

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, and would go on to run the team as hardware editor. Since then he's joined PC Gamer's top staff as senior hardware editor, where he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industries and testing the newest PC components.