Digital Foundry vs. the Xbox One architects

Two months away from the release of the next generation consoles, many have already made up their minds about which machine offers more gaming power before a single game has been released. Compare basic graphics and memory bandwidth specs side-by-side and it looks like a wash - PlayStation 4 comprehensively bests Xbox One to such a degree that sensible discussion of the respective merits of both consoles seems impossible. They're using the same core AMD technologies, only Sony has faster memory and a much larger graphics chip. But is it really that simple?

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iamnsuperman1430d ago (Edited 1430d ago )

I feel Microsoft has brought on the confusion themselves getting PR men to talk about technological stuff when you should get the tech guys to talk about that. Look at Sony's method. Cerny talks technical and the PR men talk PR which is for a reason. He knows what the system can do as he was the lead on building it. Microsoft should have done the same. Getting Penello in the GAF forums was a bad idea. He knowledge was shown up.

pyramidshead1430d ago

lol ikr

Balanced weak specs are still weak specs.

NewMonday1430d ago

having weaker specs puts the XB1 at a disadvantage with 3rd party multiplatform games, MS can't leverage that like they did with the 360, but the XBone should be good enough to make interesting true exclusive 1st party games that will set the console apart, but MS will need to have a consistent investment to convince gamers not PR.

AsimLeonheart1430d ago (Edited 1430d ago )

lol. MS has been so desperate with PR ever since the console reveal. A company should never lie about the capabilities or features of a product. Lies always get exposed eventually and only result in shame and loss of credibility. MS is trying too hard to win the PR battle. They should accept their console's weaknesses and highlight its strengths instead of outright lying about them just to look better or equal to PS4. Even PR should be based on facts and truth.

EDIT: After reading the whole article, I think it was a detailed explanation. I feel like MS now admits that their console is weaker and that is why they continue to emphasize "balance" whenever figures come into discussion.

Ritsujun1430d ago Show
devwan1430d ago

@newmonday "the XBone should be good enough to make interesting true exclusive 1st party games that will set the console apart"

This is maybe more likely if they really get an idea of where the One's strengths lie and designing their games to those strengths, but it will likely take some time to get a truly worthwhile picture of that. So instead of saying "I have a great idea and plan for a game, let's make it" it's be more "I've noticed we get decent performance if we do x, y and z and avoid doing a, b and c, let's make a game that uses lots of xyz and not much abc".

Not ideal, as most people prefer the design of games to be a truly creative process free of tech barriers, but there are a rare few that excel in the confines of hardware limitations.

So I suppose microsoft need to find themselves some of these rare-breed creative programmers.

Of course, most great games don't rely on truly cutting edge graphics and tech tricks, so the whole question is moot :)

torchic1430d ago


exactly! like we get it we're all so so happy for you Microsoft, you have a really balanced console but it's still much weaker than PS4!

why can't they just accept that? why would they want to live their lives in such hardcore denial?

vulcanproject1430d ago (Edited 1430d ago )

It's an interesting read. What I got out of it is this: if the developer is incredibly talented and designs the game for this hardware and exploits every small trick and squeezes every design win, the gap will be smaller than you all think. But there will still be a gap.

By implication it confirms my suspicions that in reality Sony's hardware is infinitely more simple to use.

Despite them saying they are mystified why people have claimed their hardware is complex it seems ever more obvious after that article that relative to PS4s superior raw performance it is more complex to extract anything like the systems peak.

PS3 and 360 is case in point. For 95 percent of the time for 95 percent of of the developers and their budgets out there it was easier to extract as much or more performance out of 360. Only a few high budget top end devs could make PS3 sing.

Except this time round not only do you have essentially more complex hardware in Xbox one you have theoretically inferior potential performance on top, unlike PS3 V 360.

You have less, and what you do have is more complicated to exploit. Erk.

Computersaysno1430d ago (Edited 1430d ago )

The balance!!!

Honestly Messi hasn't got the best right foot in the world but he surely has the best left one and that still makes him one of the greats....

As long as you have it where it counts and Sony do. Where it really matters for developers like ease of use and fill rates PS4 has killer advantages

nukeitall1430d ago (Edited 1430d ago )

Haven't we learned anything from the past. Remember how Sony focused on bandwidth on the PS3 and decided to have split memory with a VRAM pool with superior bandwidth and general purpose RAM?

Turns out, more RAM was preferential than bandwidth and subsequently the PS3 had pretty poor performing games.

You play the same game now?

Again with the memory bandwidth and of course now also CU, but it turns out latency and CPU matters!

This goes on and on, from the PS3's memory footprint of 48MB of RAM vs Xbox 360s 32MB of RAM, yet can the Xbox 360 can support cross game and party chat to the bandwidth discussed above.

Real developers excited about games KNOW performance is the sum of it's parts, not particular parts.

That said, don't be fooled by carefully crafted numbers and look at the results, but more importantly all the power in the world doesn't make a good game.

All the power of PS Move didn't produce a single title worthy compared to Wii Sports! I had so much fun with Wii Sports, yet Sports Champion bored me to death despite PS Move technological superiority!


"It's an interesting read. What I got out of it is this: if the developer is incredibly talented and designs the game for this hardware and exploits every small trick and squeezes every design win, the gap will be smaller than you all think."

I think that is only partially right, because MS went with a well known design pattern with a small fast cache, just like the Xbox 360 eDRAM.

This is the same team that designed the Xbox 360 that designed the Xbox One so I'm sure they designed it as an equally balanced system.

This in so many ways mirror the PS3 vs Xbox 360. More "cores" (or PPE) and more "memory bandwidth" in the PS3 didn't have the fallout we expected. PS3 certainly got similar PR back in the day.

JokesOnYou1430d ago

Good read. I won't pretend I understand it all but it sounds like microsoft knows exactly how they want X1 to perform in relation to games. I predict when we get the final bench tests the overall performance differences will be marginal at best.

devwan1430d ago (Edited 1430d ago )

@nukeitall "MS went with a well known design pattern with a small fast cache, just like the Xbox 360 eDRAM. "

Did you even read the DF piece? The MS guys confirmed it's not a cache at all - it's a scratchpad - user managed memory. Any benefits of this setup require careful planning and implementation and that's all down to the programmers, it's not a cache that's just there that makes things run faster using its own hardware magic.

Anything that requires such micro-management and excessive planning to obtain decent results is going to struggle to be universally effective. There are parallels here with the ps3's non-standard hardware requiring new or different programming techniques to obtain best use of resources... the only problem here is the xbox one requires this as it attempts to gain parity with ps4, unlike the ps3's hardest pushed efforts that out-shone the 360.

Basically put, xbox one's esram is not "raw power", it's an addition to offset the system's memory bottlenecks and to be effective will require planning, forethought, skill, time, manpower... jumping through hoops. It's not simply raw power that's there for the taking with ps4.

As for the whole "balance" thing, that's very cleverly worded PR spin that's only there to reassure troubled xbox fans to keep them loyal to the brand...

@Jokes " I won't pretend I understand it all but it sounds like microsoft knows exactly how they want X1 to perform in relation to games. I predict when we get the final bench tests the overall performance differences will be marginal at best."

See - it worked. It's there to hoodwink those who don't know better and reassure them that MKB - Microsoft Knows Best.

"In terms of getting the best possible combination of performance, memory size, power, the GDDR5 takes you into a little bit of an uncomfortable place." - complete damage control technosloblock, Panello couldn't have said it better himself. Really unworthy of a supposed "Technical Fellow".

nypifisel1430d ago

You got a point. "Balance", is just a buzzword. I can't believe DF would be so uncritical. Matte of the fact still stands, the Xbox One will never preform as good as the PS4 and it's actually all down to raw power, the GPU in the PS4 is just that much better in pretty much every aspect (so is the RAM, eSRAM is a cop out to make manufacturing cheaper, nothing else).

gaffyh1430d ago

Talk in confusing technical jargon so that nobody understands anything, so you can say "MS knows what they are talking about."

Massive damage control, no real new information, repeating the same thing trying to get people to believe it.

Death1430d ago

Are we actually talking a few frames a second as being the 50% increase in power the PS4 has?

Here is my question to all those that believe the PS4 is more powerfull. What is the benefit going to be of all this power? Will the games look better, have more textures, faster frame rate, or a higher resolution? What do you think you will see to justify the arguement?

We had a "weak" Xbox 360 slug it out with the super-computer like PS3 and it's Cell processor along with it's massive Blu-ray drive. GTAV just released with the biggest budget in gaming to date. I'm pretty sure the PS3 version got a very slight edge up on the Xbox 360 version but if you don't run them side by side you might not know which is which. Is this difference we can expect next gen?

tokugawa1430d ago (Edited 1430d ago )

good read

once devs (if they dont aready) have the tools to use every piece of silicon correctly, then they should be able to make some stunning looking games.

@ fanboys. seeing as the ps4 is massively more powerful right? we should see the difference in november yes??

i cant wait to get both myself

edit gaf breaks down the spin rofl..

99% of gaf know f'kall just like here. and just like here there is a huge bias. the difference is only the quality of the mods. it is the fear of the banhammer that keeps gaf readable

b3d would be a better place for a breakdown.

LonChaneyTV1430d ago

I agree specs do matter, I upgraded from a ps4 to two Nvidia 770s, not bothering with such petty technology again. Agni's philosophy tech demo here i come!!

Haules1430d ago (Edited 1430d ago )

HAHA DF are using a HD7850 card as a reference to Xbone GPU.

Xbone uses a HD7790 which is way slower than the HD7850!

What a useless article.

DigitalRaptor1430d ago (Edited 1430d ago )

@ JokesOnYou

It's nice to stay positive about your purchases, but let's face it, decisions are made for a reason, and wishful thinking is not the answer. Facts are: http://www.computerandvideo...

@ Tokugawa

Since when have launch titles ever been the judge of anything? I would've thought by now that you Xbox fans would've learned to look ahead and judge the long-term, but nah. Nothing's changed.

tokugawa1430d ago


normally i would agree. but, seeing as everyone keeps talking about 50% more power, ease of use, better ram and ofcourse the massive power difference. i think that it is fair to assume that when all that is combined, the difference should been seen out of the gate no??

i think more like it is the droids like yourself that are already preparing the excuses.

dantesparda1429d ago (Edited 1429d ago )


So why is he a droid and you not a bot then? Cuz it seems that all MS fanboys think that only Sony fanboys are "fanboys" and "they" (MS fanboys)are not. The fact is the PS4 is more powerful, period end of discussion. The problem is the MS fanboys cant accept that so they keep coming up with every excuse in the book to try and deny that it, just like how the WiiU fanboys kept trying to deny that the the WiiU is just a current gen system.

You're not going to see the big "50%" difference at launch, especially from 3rd parties, cuz of parity. Now all you MS fanboy need to stop calling the Sony fanboys, fanboys, cuz you's are fanboys too.

Personally I go with whoever has the best system, and so far thats looking like PS4 to me. I bought the 360 in 2005 and jumped ship in 2008 when they started abandoning the hardcore. But honestly, neither system is looking that great technically

Ju1429d ago (Edited 1429d ago )

See, it's very simple:

"You can use the Move Engines to move these things asynchronously in concert with the GPU so the GPU isn't spending any time on the move. You've got the DMA engine doing it. Now the GPU can go on and immediately work on the next render target rather than simply move bits around"


unless you have a unified memory pool allocating the full bandwidth where switching render targets is setting up a different memory address. No memory move needed at all.

Now, even in layman's terms it should be plain obvious that

a) not moving data is infinite faster than moving data and
b) it is simpler to handle and
c) does not require any power at all (re: power savings using fixed function HW).

This is one example. We would have built something like this 30 years ago (actually, if I think back, that's what the Amiga did when PCs had b/w "graphics").

But today, there is no benefit to such a thing.

pixelsword1429d ago

In time the games will tell the tale.

It seems like the architectural styles of Microsoft and Sony has switched in terms of ram, but if the cpus aren't designed the same, it may have no consequence.

I wonder why Ryse is not 1080p although that may be just a lack of experience on the console; if that's not the case, then Crytek is being honest and turn 10 is not. I'm thinking that's why Ryse isn't 1080p, and it casts doubt on Forza's specs not being upscaled. I don't think that's the case.

In time the games will tell the tale.

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kevnb1430d ago

Sonys method is, "dat ram!" Xbox one is a cluster you know what.

vigilante_man1430d ago

Have got to say that was an interesting read (a bit technical in parts). They should of had this conversation months ago. Not once did they try and say that the XB1 is as powerful as the PS4, just that they balanced their system to meet their multi-purpose needs.

In reality you would expect a pure gaming console that can do social media and TV stuff should be more powerful than a system built for gaming, social media and TV at its core.

Lets praise the honesty of the interview.

Just one thing confuses me: They went for 218 ESRam. Why not higher? I remember Mr Cerny discussed Sony having ESRam of 1,000 but decided to go for the more simple instant raw power. He added that it would take a good few years to unlock the true potential of the 1,000 ESRam but wanted developers to hit the ground running on PS4.

So if Mr Cerny is correct it will take a few years before XB1 starts to make full use of that ESRam and even then they lose out on GPU power. If you are going to go with ESRam go for big numbers in speed like 500 or 1,000 to make the trade-off worth it.

Nekroo911430d ago

@vigilante_man your messing everything up, your mixing esram speend with memory size. cerny said that the 8gb of gddram+ edram would achieve 1000gb/s but that would make the console complicated to work with and devs dont want to waste time with that

Elzer1430d ago

Look at apples iPhone 5s today. Its A7 chip architecture is heavily customized that it blows the rest of its competition away. On paper it lacks the raw power. Smartphones today tackle performance based on more ram and more cores. But why is it that the iPhone 5s dual-core and 1gb ram "specs on paper" outshines in most tested benchmarks compared to smartphones with 2gb ram and quad-core processors?
It seems to me that Sony has brainwash most uneducated gamers into thinking that utilization, optimization, and efficiency don't exist...

kevnb1430d ago (Edited 1430d ago )

truth is most people don't know much about specs and are really easily mislead. apple doesnt try to impress people with big numbers, its always been about selling the experience.

Ju1429d ago

Well, if it'll take XB devs years to unlock the ESRAM than it's a little too late. The XBone will need that ESRAM to deliver. It will need to max it if it wants to match the PS4 - from day one.

Parapraxis1429d ago

"truth is most people don't know much about specs"
Well, you sure as shit don't.

+ Show (3) more repliesLast reply 1429d ago
gaelic_laoch1430d ago

"Microsoft should have done the same. Getting Penello in the GAF forums was a bad idea."

May as well of sent a chimp in a lab coat out to explain the inner working of the XboNe!

nukeitall1430d ago (Edited 1430d ago )

The difference is MS has done a lot of tweaks to figure out how to balance their system. How do you explain that to the masses that has the slightest idea of technology beyond use?

It's like a race circuit, more horsepower doesn't mean faster lap times if the circuit has many turns and twists.

Unfortunately the masses has been educated by one side that pure numbers they CAN understand is how it should be measured instead of real engineers tasked with designing said system.

Remember how Intel focused on the Gigahertz and AMD beat them in performance?

At some point people thought more Hertz would yield more performance too!