Microsoft's Xbox One To Feature Faster GPU As Company Shrinks Gap With Sony

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News Posted: Fri, Aug 2 2013 2:06 PM
The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are more similar than any two consoles from competing vendors have been in decades, but as far as hardware specs are concerned, Sony has a decided edge. While both systems use AMD CPUs and Radeon 7000-derived, GCN-based graphics cards, the Sony system has 1,152 shader cores compared to just 768 cores on the Xbox One. Both chips are (or were) reportedly clocked at 800MHz, leaving Sony with a 50% shader core advantage over its Xbox rival.

It's far too late in the cycle for Microsoft to do much about its GPU design, so the company has decided to tackle the problem by increasing GPU clock speed. In a recent podcast, Major Nelson confirmed that the GPU is currently running at 853MHz, up from 800MHz in the core dev kids. That's an increase of 6.6%, which will likely translate into real-world performance gains of 3-4%. As bonuses go, this one is pretty minor.



As for why Microsoft would make the change, there are two reasons. First, it says good things about console yields that it can do so, and should help defray rumors that have circulated about catastrophic yield issues leading to an underclock or cache disabling (yes, those have been floating). The Xbox One cooling system is extremely robust -- the CPU fan is enormous -- so running the GPU a bit faster shouldn't be a problem. It's possible that Microsoft wants to continue nudging clock speeds upwards -- whether or not it can do so will depend on yield and power characteristics. The company could theoretically deploy a variable clockspeed technology that gives the GPU the option of pushing above a clock rate for short periods, provided TDP or temperature settings aren't exceeded.

The Cloud Question

With John Carmack publicly stating that the two consoles are virtually identical, it's a safe bet that the PS4's higher clock rates won't result in dramatic game differences in anything but PS4 exclusives. Historically, developers have targeted the lowest common denominator; the majority of last-generation games were virtually identical across the two platforms. Sony may hope that by offering more graphics horsepower, it can entice more developers to build PS4 exclusives, but Microsoft still has its own cloud rendering offload it wants to push as an alternative. If the company can bring that off, the potential horsepower from a server bank far outweighs any console advantage -- but the latency factor makes this a big "if."

 Still, we've already seen more evolution from Microsoft on major console features this gen than over the entirety of the last product cycle. Hardware specs are unlikely to change, but software capabilities and clock speeds are clearly still evolving.
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53MHz...what a pointless attempt

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Preordered my Day One Edition of Xbox One a few weeks back from the microsoft store and it says its due out November but amazon says December.... What's the deal?

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No official street date yet man, they're just placeholders.

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Thanks, It had me confused. I was excited thinking I was getting it early. D'oh!

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Joel H replied on Fri, Aug 2 2013 4:24 PM

Current rumor is Nov 29 and Dec 14 I believe.

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As much as Microsoft tries to improve from mistakes i still stickin to playstation :D

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Well, I guess Microsoft still sorta wins since I'll stick to PC gaming.

Granted they don't get the cut they'd like on their Windows platform. :)

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With video games and multimedia content, a faster GPU is definitely wanted. Microsoft should be aiming for the latest and most powerful GPU they can get before they reach the point that they must finalize on their components.

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That minor bump in speed will do jack when the rest of the specs are still aweful. ALOT more matters than just the speed it runs at.

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RBloch replied on Fri, Aug 2 2013 7:57 PM

Overclocking the GPU core, even a mere 53mhz increases the heat load which results in them using more powerful (louder) fans. It won't do anything performance wise. Even with my 7970 a 50mhz increase yields me maybe 1-3fps...maybe. Should have went the way that sony did, cut down on the camera and give the console a more powerful GPU. If people want a camera after they buy the console let them buy it....

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basroil replied on Sat, Aug 3 2013 12:28 AM

The so called latency factor isn't all that high when you actually think about it... If you currently have 20ms delay due to latency, that's still about 40% faster than 30fps would need!

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basroil replied on Sat, Aug 3 2013 2:02 AM

You do know DX11 can run 20% or more faster than OGL4 right? Sure OGL is great if you optimize the crap out of everything, but you'll see the first generation of games perform better in the xbox even with "inferior" hardware, simply because the developers can spend more time with the important things like actually making the game playable, not just pretty looking.

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basroil replied on Sat, Aug 3 2013 2:46 AM

That's like saying that a GTX780 is better than a Quadro600 because on paper it's dozens of times faster. Sure some programs will run faster, but properly optimized programs will have higher quality and render faster on the Quadro simply because of driver and software optimizations that let you use 100% of the potential. Sure PC gaming will have faster framerates at higher resolutions, but the hardware utilization will be ridiculously low (even if the GPU says it's at 100%)

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Joel H replied on Sat, Aug 3 2013 3:10 AM

The rest of the specs are comparable to the PS4. Same amount of RAM, same magnetic storage, same CPU. What exactly are you complaining about?

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zybch replied on Sat, Aug 3 2013 10:48 PM

Actually no. While Sony uses the faster GDDR5 system RAM (instead of DDR3) MS has stuck a massive wodge of even faster RAM into the processor itself which should be a great way to SMARTLY increase performance. Just think of the celeron compared to a 'real' P4 CPU, the only real difference was the high speed cache which the celeron had 1/4-1/8th the amount as the P4 and performed miserably against.

There is always the problem of developer tools too. MS has always had the better tools, and even though both consoles now use the same underlying hardware (x86) MS still has a huge advantage by using the well known, well understood and well used DX API developed and improved for almost 2 decades than whatever sony has had to come up with purely for this single console. Sony had sure hope their tools and what they expose to developers is a LOT better than the PS3 with its vastly superior Cell processor that was so damned difficult to code for that it almost always looked and performed worse than the older 360.

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Its still what 5 times faster then the 360.... still good in my view.

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