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
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • Thermalzeal - Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - link

    Anand, any information on whether the Xbox One will utilize HMA (Hybrid Memory Access) in comparison to the PS4?
  • tipoo - Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - link

    Do you mean HUMA by any chance? Yes, both would have that.
  • Buccomatic - Friday, May 31, 2013 - link

    xbox one - everything we don't want in a video game console, except the controller.
    ps3 - everything we do want in a video game console, except the controller.

    that's how i see it.
  • Buccomatic - Friday, May 31, 2013 - link

    can anyone tell me if the following statement is correct or incorrect?

    pc games will be ports from the games made for consoles. both consoles (xbox one and ps4) will have 5gb vram in their gpu. so that means the system requirements for pc games, as early as december when they start porting games over from the consoles to pc, will require a pc gamer to have a video card of at least 5gb vram, or more, just to run the game.


    yes or no and why?
  • fteoath64 - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    Before the hardware is released and analysed, we have no idea how much of the PS4 GDDR5 ram is going to be shared and/or dedicated for gpu use and how much of those are going to be available to user data. It is anyone's guess at this stage. But the improvements in hUMA design with dual ported frame buffer for gpu and cpu makes it a rather quick gpu by PC standards. Since only one game is loaded at a time, there can be shared memory reconfiguration going on just before the game loading so it can depend on the game and how much ram it can grab. The cpu counts very little in the process and it is why it can be clocked at 1.6Ghz rather than storming at 3.6Ghz as in Trinity chips. Still with faster gpu and globs of ram now, there is certainly greater leeway in the development process and optimizing process for game developers. One can assume at 3X the Trinity gpu core counts, the PS4 must be at least 2.5X the speed of Trinity gpus since those ran at 900Mhz. With good cooling, the PS4 could well clock their gpu cores at 1.2Ghz since Intel is going 1.3Ghz on the GT3 core.
  • SnOOziie - Sunday, June 2, 2013 - link

    Looking at the motherboard they have use solder balls on CPU to BGA it's going to RROD
  • Wolfpup - Monday, June 3, 2013 - link

    This has never been an easier choice-Microsoft doesn't let you buy games, Sony does, and their system is 50% more powerful, more focused on games, while Microsoft's off doing yet more Kinnect.
  • SirGCal - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    YUP, and as a cripple, what good is flailing my arms about and hopping around like a retard going to do me? Kinetic is about the dumbest thing I've seen people use. Accept for work-out stuff and kids stuff sure, makes sense. But then now they give those in the dial-up and cellular internet locations the finger and say 'stick with the 360' when they know damn well developers won't make games for it within a year... Morons. I'm done with M$. If I do get a new console, it will be the PS4. Besides, I've always loved the Kingdom Hearts series more then any others...
  • NoKidding - Monday, June 24, 2013 - link

    i am glad that these consoles have finally seen the light of day. though a bit underpowered compared to an average mid range rig, at least game developers will be forced to utilized each and every available core at such low clock rates on these consoles. heavily threaded games will finally be the norm and not just a mere exception. if the playing field no longer relies heavily on ipc advantages, will amd's "more cores but cheaper" strategy finally catch intel's superior ipc advantage? will amd finally reclaim the low to mid range market? no, not likely. but one can hope so. i yearn for the good old c2d days when intel was forced to pull all the stops.
  • kondor999 - Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - link

    Who gives a shit about heat and power consumption in a console? Both machines are miserly, and they're not notebooks for Gods sake. Looks like MS simply cheaped out to me. Letting them off the hook by pointing out the tiny heat/power savings as a "benefit" is a real reach. By this logic, why not just cut the compute power even more?

    No thanks.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now