Final Words

It’s nearly impossible for the Xbox One not to be a substantial upgrade over the Xbox 360. The fact that Microsoft could ship a single integrated SoC instead of a multi-chip CPU+GPU solution this generation is telling enough. You don’t need to integrate anywhere near the fastest CPUs and GPUs to outperform the Xbox 360, something closer to the middle of the road works just fine.

Microsoft won’t have any issues delivering many times the performance of the Xbox 360. The Xbox One features far more compute power and memory bandwidth than the Xbox 360. Going to 8GB of RAM is also a welcome upgrade, especially since it’s identical to what Sony will ship on the PlayStation 4. As AMD is supplying relatively similar x86 CPU and GCN GPU IP to both consoles, porting between them (and porting to PCs) should be far easier than ever before. The theoretical performance comparison between the two next-gen consoles is where things get a bit sticky.

Sony gave the PS4 50% more raw shader performance, plain and simple (768 SPs @ 800MHz vs. 1152 SPs & 800MHz). Unlike last generation, you don't need to be some sort of Jedi to extract the PS4's potential here. The Xbox One and PS4 architectures are quite similar, Sony just has more hardware under the hood. We’ll have to wait and see how this hardware delta gets exposed in games over time, but the gap is definitely there. The funny thing about game consoles is that it’s usually the lowest common denominator that determines the bulk of the experience across all platforms.

On the plus side, the Xbox One should enjoy better power/thermal characteristics compared to the PlayStation 4. Even compared to the Xbox 360 we should see improvement in many use cases thanks to modern power management techniques.

Differences in the memory subsytems also gives us some insight into each approach to the next-gen consoles. Microsoft opted for embedded SRAM + DDR3, while Sony went for a very fast GDDR5 memory interface. Sony’s approach (especially when combined with a beefier GPU) is exactly what you’d build if you wanted to give game developers the fastest hardware. Microsoft’s approach on the other hand looks a little more broad. The Xbox One still gives game developers a significant performance boost over the previous generation, but also attempts to widen the audience for the console. It’s a risky strategy for sure, especially given the similarities in the underlying architectures between the Xbox One and PS4. If the market for high-end game consoles has already hit its peak, then Microsoft’s approach is likely the right one from a business standpoint. If the market for dedicated high-end game consoles hasn’t peaked however, Microsoft will have to rely even more on the Kinect experience, TV integration and its exclusive franchises to compete.

Arguably the most interesting thing in all of this is the dual-OS + hypervisor software setup behind the Xbox One. With the Windows kernel running alongside the Xbox OS, I wonder how much of a stretch it would be to one day bring the same setup to PCs. Well before the Xbox One hits the end of its life, mainstream PC APUs will likely be capable of delivering similar performance. Imagine a future Surface tablet capable of doing everything your Xbox One can do. That's really the trump card in all of this. The day Microsoft treats Xbox as a platform and not a console is the day that Apple and Google have a much more formidable competitor. Xbox One at least gets the software architecture in order, then we need PC/mobile hardware to follow suit and finally for Microsoft to come to this realization and actually make it happen. We already have the Windows kernel running on phones, tablets, PCs and the Xbox, now we just need the Xbox OS across all platforms as well.

Power/Thermals, OS, Kinect & TV
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  • Rogatti - Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - link

    If Sony allow Linux OS ... PS4 GO !

    Next generation of EyeToy...E3 2013 ?
  • blacks329 - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    They've already showed the next gen PS Eye and it was announced back in February that it would be shipping with every PS4 (just like Kinect) ... Sony needs better marketers lol.
  • Majeed Belle - Sunday, September 8, 2013 - link

    All of you who are trying to use the "Sony will ship with the PSeye" thing is missing a very big point.

    The PSeye IS NOT required for ANY functionality. That's a big difference there big man.

    I personnaly don't give a damn about the eye or kinect I didn't use either of them last gen and I won't use either now. If you are going to try and make a though you should try to state ALL the facts. Not just the ones that you think will validate your argument.
  • rasatouche - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    Memory bandwidth is going to be a huge issue, no? I'm mean we've all seen the benchmarks when you get an AMD apu based X86 pc, and then you change the speed of the ram and you see 30 - 40% difference in FPS, on PC with all it's glorious overhead. In games GPU's are the deciding factor, and probably still will be for sometime, not to mention the PS4 will likely have a less intensive ram overhead for the OS to boot.

    What this is going to mean this gen IMO, is that sony's first party titles will probably look better, and third party games, and the 'ports' if you will, will be the reverse of last generation. I remember one of the main reasons I got a 360 was that it was the better console for 3rd party titles, they ran better, less texture popping & FPS dips / tearing, than the ps3 at the time. It will likely be the reverse this generation, seeing as games should be easier to get running optimally on the ps4, simply because it has more GPU. 50% more shaders in the GPU is nothing to sneeze at, to put it in PC performance terms, it's probably about the relative difference between a 660ti & a 680.
  • elitewolverine - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    you might want to re-understand how the internals will work.

    ddr5 is great at bandwidth, something a video card needs, because its sharing large amounts of predetermined data, latency is not a real issue. DDR3, is used in pcs because its cheaper, but also because it has lower latency in general.

    You off load one of main things a gpu does, framebuffering, and ddr5 becomes a highly priced memory module.

    Don't forget, the x1 is carring a set of 2133 ddr3's, what you are talking about is people going from 1333 ddr3 to 1800 or 2133. Good thing the x1 already has 2133
  • mayankleoboy1 - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    Could it be that 2 years down the line, MS or Sony could overclock the CPU part to something like 1.8GHz through a firmware update ?
  • tipoo - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    Why would they not launch at that speed then, since every single shipped PS4 would have to be validated for the higher speed first?
  • WoodyPWX - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    Sony is the winner here. The architecture is the same, so developers can easily tune some numbers (higher quality shaders, more particles, higher FPS, higher resolution etc) to get noticeably better results on the PS4. I would prefer PS4 as my next gaming device. Hopefully Sony will not screw up developer tools.
  • kensa99 - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    I prefer Xbox one too! I liked playing Xbox 360 games ever and even read many articles about it from Aneesoft Xbox 360 column. And now I will choose Xbox as my favorite game console.
  • alex@1234 - Thursday, May 23, 2013 - link

    GPU is the most important factor in determining the console. PS4 holds the advantage here. Xbox one unless they change the GPU similar to PS4, I will not opt for it. Other than this the integration of TV, Internet is not necessary for most of the gamers. Still Xbox should change the GPU, otherwise it will lose.

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