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Digital Foundry: the complete Xbox One architects interview

The final transcript of Digital Foundry's discussions on the Xbox One architecture with two integral members of the team that helped create the hardware.

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eurogamer.net
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Chaostar2859d ago

Well Mr Leadbetter decided to finally give us the full picture. This is only after cherry picking parts of this interview and making 3 previous hit seeking articles.

*slow clap*

nukeitall2859d ago (Edited 2859d ago )

At least this is a new fact filled piece with real journalistic work as opposed to the amateur blog hit seeking flamebait and clickbait articles with lots of mis-informed information being passed around here as top news stories essentially spreading FUD!

I applaud Mr Leadbetter for great job on getting real information right from the horses mouth, but I'm sure you would rather have the latter, because it serves your cause.

@Gamingcapacity:

No, this is a detailed hardware architecture discussion that you probably don't get, so to you it might be secret sauce.

EVILDEAD3602859d ago

Shout out to Richard and the Xbox hardware reps for providing one of the best pieces I've seen on Xbox ONE since..ever.

Salute Eurogamer for not crumbling under the fake power of the SonyGAF PR pressure to not give those guys a platform to speak on their next gen decisions.

This article has me more excited for my XB1 preorder than any of the 'speculative' rumor stuff on Mister's site. Although Mister's site is pretty entertaining and strangely addicting.

Forget the endless comparison loop, MS was right all along, the latest Ryse gameplay vid is ridiculously stunning and makes a lot of the best 3rd person graphics this gen look like cartoons.

If what they learned from post 360 that 'balance' is the key to amazing games then they can say it 50 times in the interview. Give me Forza 5, Ryse (holy surprise after the weak E3), TitanFall, and Halo 5, on this system and I'm happy.

That I until Last guardian or Naughty's next masterpiece arrives and I cry like a baby as I pick it up and my PS4 umm next year?

Life is sooo good these days for console gamers period. Silly console war or not.

Evil

P0werVR2859d ago (Edited 2859d ago )

"we've measured about 140-150GB/s for ESRAM. That's real code running. That's not some diagnostic or some simulation case or something like that. That is real code that is running at that bandwidth. "

Straight from the horses mouth fellas! Wow!!

204GB/s is peak and 150GB/s from ESRAM ALONE is it's achievable bandwidth. That is solid sustainable bandwidth. Then you add on to that 50-55GB/s from DDR3? Great design indeed Microsoft.

I know I'll get flak for this (stating facts), this is N4G. No biggy. I'm free riding from here until launch, and my assumption was right after all. Very well balanced Microsoft, bravo.

EDIT:

Also forgot to mention, memory coherency confirmed between ESRAM and DDR3 via a cross bar. probably the black line there:

http://images.eurogamer.net...

I wonder how Black Tusk Studios will utilize that whopping 200GB/s solid bandwidth. And also the hardware's technology. Or even Halo 5!

Nekroo912859d ago (Edited 2859d ago )

@PowerVr oh good you still dont understand how the esram works, the problem with it its just 32mb it doesent work as normal memory, it can ony be used to small things, like render skys, targets etc and thats not a bad thing, the target system on killzone alone uses 800mb.

So no xbox doesent have more memory speed its like you use 5% to process graphics at 150gb/s and the other 95% at 68gb/s.

do you have a brain?, if you could use the 32mb of esram to process everything they wouldnt had 8gb of ddr3.

but its a good console

P0werVR2859d ago (Edited 2859d ago )

^

Render target and depth buffers are not small tasks my friend. And if anything it would be mainly for Render Target Texture(RTT). Efficient memory usage, and lower storage space.

Textures takes up more than 70% of a typical 20GB triple A game, and is the largest uptake of memory than other factors in 3D graphics.

So if ESRAM potentially be used for textures, you can pretty much get the idea.

EDIT:

@computersayno

"On paper Xbone has more memory bandwidth, in practice it needs it and possibly more just to do the same things PS4 can do in its unified architecture."

Bandwidth is bandwidth. You don't need more of anything just to do the same thing on another platform. If you have that amount of bandwidth, then that is simply what that available bandwidth is to the developers in what they can do with.

I agree, that it is a more complex than PS4 and why they had to rely on low latency hardware. But be fair, Microsoft ALWAYS provide the best tools for developers...they're developers for crying out loud. They won't put anything on the market if they didn't have the know how, *cough*...Cell...

Computersaysno2859d ago (Edited 2859d ago )

The bandwidth thing was always an interesting point but their figures are still based on the assumption you will always read and write at the same time and you are always doing that.

Read alone is still limited to 109GB/s maximum from the ESRAM and its impossible to ever do more.

The beauty of Sony's setup is they can dump everything into one pool which is less complex, you don't actually have to use read/write cycles to move memory between a main pool and the ESRAM like Xbone will have to. That will always be a waste of resources but just how it is when you split your memory into small n fast, large n slow.

You can just drop data in the 8GB GDDR5 and not even waste a write cycle because basically the system doesn't necessarily have to move data if another part of the system wants to access it, it can just effectively 'relabel' it while it remains there saving more read/write bandwidth.

On paper Xbone has more memory bandwidth, in practice it needs it and possibly more just to do the same things PS4 can do in its unified architecture.

You can split your code to improve the efficiency between ESRAM and the DDR3 but you are always fighting to achieve the perfect balance all the time, nothing will run fast unless you do the juggling.

PS4 just won't be nearly as difficult to optimise more of the time.

2859d ago
Computersaysno2859d ago (Edited 2859d ago )

@ BF4x1

Please quote me where I said Read/Write simultaneously is a downside?

All I said is that the maximum read you can ever do in the ESRAM is 109gb/s.

What if you want more? Well you have to shuttle to the main memory. You have to split up your code. The machine stalls otherwise.

This is a similar sort of thing where PS3's maximum video memory was only ever going to be 249mb. What if you wanted more? Its not possible. But Xbox 360 having a unified architecture you could (and devs did) have a memory split favouring more video memory. So games could use 280mb for video easily.

The point being that PS4's memory architecture is blatantly more flexible. On Xbone you have a way of making the code work well set in stone, and if you don't get that juggling perfect between the split pools it'll never be fast.

Developers much prefer a big pool of resources they can just do whatever they want with. They want a big blank canvas and then they can design it however they please.

Its been that way since forever.

Xbone's fancy memory setup looks clever n all, but there no denying that the simplicity of PS4's setup is preferable to pretty much any developer you'll talk to.

@ P0werVR

Bandwidth is bandwidth even if you using it to read from main memory, and then writing to ESRAM, and then reading from ESRAM to move data out, and writing to system memory.

You are going to HAVE to do this at some point. 32mb of ESRAM means you'll be shuttling data in and out. Xbone means you'll try desperately to avoid doing too much because its bandwidth wasted going to moving data to get it in the right pool at the right time.

This uses bandwidth that PS4 doesn't even have to use. Data will just be written once into main memory and sit on its ass without moving and chewing up more cycles.

2859d ago
Computersaysno2859d ago (Edited 2859d ago )

I'm just telling you how it is, and you're not liking what Im saying. Thats not really my problem, its yours.

Developers prefer more straightforward, flexible memory architectures. They prefer not having to balance their memory usage, juggle split pools and try to keep a small fast pool fed.

They will do it if they have to, but it'll never be as flexible as just one unified pool and it'll never be as efficient. It never was in PS3 compared to 360, and it never will be in Xbone compared to PS4.

Being an SoC is totally irrelevant. I was obviously talking about read/write between the ESRAM (inside the SoC) and the main memory, which is obviously NOT on the same chip, its on memory modules on the motherboard.

Efficiency is always a key word when programming. Hitting a higher efficiency on seemingly slightly less bandwidth chances are is going to easily beat having an average or poor one on a bit more memory bandwidth system wide.

It depends on the programmer. But flexibility and ease of use rules, not to mention early on makes companies want to lead their games on the easier machine and the better selling one. So we'll see.

GameNameFame2859d ago (Edited 2859d ago )

@BF4X1 what kind of desperate response is that?

"Are you lead architect"

Facts are facts. Lead architech was told to make a cheaper machine. Did best he can. Result is a weaker machine.

All I am hearing is Xbox fanboys complaining media is overan by PS fanboys. No. Media is just general view and Xbox fanboys just blaming all their problems on media.

Regardless. No secret sauce. Significant Power difference is confirmed.

creatchee2859d ago

@GameNameFame

"All I am hearing is Xbox fanboys complaining media is overan by PS fanboys. No. Media is just general view and Xbox fanboys just blaming all their problems on media."

So what you're saying is that Xbox fanboys from next generation are the same as PS fanboys from this generation?

imt5582859d ago

@ POwerVR

This, this, this :

X1 GPU:
1.18 TF GPU (12 CUs) for games
768 Shaders
48 Texture units
16 ROPS
2 ACE/ 16 queues

PS4 GPU:
1.84TF GPU ( 18 CUs) for games + 56%
1152 Shaders +50%
72 Texture units +50%
32 ROPS + 100%
8 ACE/64 queues +400%

ShinMaster2858d ago

@ imt558

How are you getting disagrees for stating facts? lol

+ Show (10) more repliesLast reply 2858d ago
Gamingcapacity2859d ago

Was secret sauce mentioned?

Ezz20132859d ago (Edited 2859d ago )

the secret sauce is ....saying *balance* 25 times in the interview

P0werVR2859d ago (Edited 2859d ago )

The "secret sauce" IS balance. Like cars you NEVER perceive architectures in general as if it's a 1:1 score.

It's all about making use of that raw power and achieving the highest performance.

Okay, you have the numbers, now what can it do?

abc12332859d ago

Even if they did manage to get a perfect 1:1 relative power score, if the PS4's worst component is at 1.5 then it still wins

vigilante_man2859d ago

Seem like selected questions to me. They never asked or answered regarding HSA.

ProjectVulcan2859d ago (Edited 2859d ago )

Sigh, always the "balance."

I don't doubt Xbox one has a smartly engineered SoC but its mainly because they had to solve a problem they themselves created, namely using slow system memory.

He says that the 8GB choice was made early on, which instantly locked them into using DDR3 (only modules large enough at the time of the decision)

So, you are then trying to resolve the problem of having insufficient memory bandwidth for even the very modest GPU in the class they have selected.

To patch up this shortage of memory bandwidth, they devoted an absolutely enormous amount of the available SoC die space to this absolutely enormous ESRAM cache. We are talking at least one third of the transistors used inside Xbox one are just the ESRAM cache.

To me, thats a huge blow. You are giving up a vast amount of available transistors to solve a problem you created by using DDR3.

Sony never created this problem to engineer around. They just made a chip with the biggest GPU they could get away with and they see the gains as a result. It was a gamble using GDDR5 but it totally paid off big time when they realised they could jam 8GB in there.

Sony may have gotten lucky in having large enough GDDR5 modules at the last minute, but that sort of gamble won the power war.

Now we have Microsoft trying to explain their system in articles like this, while Sony sit back not saying a word knowing that they have the much faster machine which is easier for developer to exploit.

Sony's lack of talk speaks volumes to me.

nukeitall2858d ago

@vulcanproject:

What if that GDDR5 gamble didn't pay off?

After all, Sony was very very close to putting in 4GB of GDDR5 until otherwise convinced by Gearbox developers.

Fact of the matter is, MS decided couldn't afford the gamble, and Sony wasn't planning on it, just stumbled upon it.

So to call it even a gamble for Sony is to give too much credit.

"Sony may have gotten lucky in having large enough GDDR5 modules at the last minute, but that sort of gamble won the power war."

That could have easily have backfired and illustrates how Sony was developing a purely gaming machine. With 4GBs of RAM, there is hardly any memory space for the OS as everything as to be dedicated to the games.

ProjectVulcan2858d ago (Edited 2858d ago )

What if?

The what if didn't happen. It did pay off.

It paid off hugebigtime.

If Sony were building a console aimed more at games and that helped their gamble pay off, then more kudos to them. More win for them from me, as a gamer who wants a games console not a media box with compromised gaming hardware in it.

If I wanted a media box I would have one which was incredibly more powerful and much more flexible and open than the one Microsoft chose to build. Its called a PC, by the way.

But anyway, I digress. Sony won by gambling and it'll pay off in the next generation of consoles from start to finish.

Gamingcapacity2858d ago

@Nuke
You make it sound that developers having input on how the PS4 was fortunate for Sony.

Sony has made it clear that they actively made a console based on what developers wanted and used their input. The whole design was made with the developers in mind.

They didn't just stumble on developer input, they looked for it.

+ Show (5) more repliesLast reply 2858d ago
allformats2859d ago

Well said, Chaostar. Well said.

TheKayle12859d ago (Edited 2859d ago )

@necroo91

u dont have idea of what u talking about dont u?:D

the esram can do everything that the rest of ram could do

if the data r fitting well

Animal Mutha 762858d ago

Does anyone else think its odd that after 24hrs this has only reached 290 deg on N4G?

Chaostar2858d ago

No, why what are you suggesting?

+ Show (2) more repliesLast reply 2858d ago
majiebeast2859d ago (Edited 2859d ago )

They use the words balance and balanced only 25 times in the entire interview.

Mike134nl2859d ago

Did not count the number of the word balance or balanced but I tend to agree balancing your system it is an important factor in performance.

(25/7500) that's les than 1% about 0.3% of the entire interview.

thehitman2859d ago (Edited 2859d ago )

They actually used the words balance 44 times but hey whos counting :P.

Tctczach2859d ago

They got the point across though. You are taking about it. Did overuse it though.

girevik2859d ago

Question... So is the X1 a balanced machine? =p

2859d ago
hazardman2859d ago

How about a recent article, there has been some changes since June! smh

Animal Mutha 762859d ago

To what changes do you refer?

Something GPU related? Just curious.

Flutterby2859d ago

So ps4 better in all areas nice to know

TechMech22859d ago

Except for online multiplayer

thrust2859d ago

Everyone knows that! We do not need to bring that up ;)

Sono4212859d ago

care to.. elaborate?.. I have both 360 and PS3 and so far i've had more issues regarding online on the 360 and I even play it way less.. so that's more issues with less play time... so how you come to that conclusion is beyond me. I feel like all Xbox fanboys think "oh i'm paying for it so it must be better"