Physx was the same it started off crude and unreliable and is used successfully now.
Same with OpenGL.
For the high end system comment from Shotgun, the only high end part would be the card itself if it can calculate the texels, etc then any CPU over 2.6ghz would work. For what they are doing just now the extra power from other hardware is helping them develop the hardware, it is trial and error and with any type of hardware in this world it has to go through the same processes.
Would have been a laugh if they sent Neil Armstrong to the moon on very little tested hardware :P
That's the thing, though. They've been showing bits and pieces of this same island for the tech demo for god knows how many years now, and they're still running the demos on developer-level software - even when they carefully cut to small environments to showcase their "unlimited detail" rocks, it's still running at 20 FPS. I'm not saying that nobody could run it if they refined it and actually handed it off to people who knew what they were doing - just that because of the way it works, at best you'll be seeing this engine used to draw parts of a level that are beyond the player's reach.
That might be all they are able to use it for at first, but eventually they might be able to use it to create a whole environment for the game. We will just have to wait and see how it goes.
Oh believe me, I'm not skeptical. I just have programmer friends. I can't even begin to count the number of terms they used that I myself had never heard of describing how this company was basically flinging a load of crap. I can tell you that my posts are at least accurate, though ranty.
I do know, however, from personal research into some of our own biology (specifically around the eye, and the nerves/synapses/all that jazz, was for a horror fiction book I wrote years ago though, can't remember terms, heh), psychology, and sociology that essentially, even if this "infinite detail" were to somehow happen (or if myself and my friends have come to think, even could happen) - it would only help or be noticeable to a point, you know?
As cynical and skeptical as I am here, were it to be possible - even just to hit the actual limit of what we as humans can perceive through a monitor or TV - it would not only be an astounding feat in the graphics department, developers would literally only have to focus on creating a good physics/animation engine. Sadly, if it or any other project as ambitious as it could bear fruit - gaming would actually become about gameplay again after the hype over how amazing it looked died down, not just making it look good.