X1 ESRAM & 720p Why It's Causing A Resolution Bottleneck

" The ESRAM of the Xbox One is perhaps the single largest issue developers are facing right now when porting games over to the machine. Leaks and rumors say it’s not only responsible for the lower native resolution of Xbox One Games, but also causing games to be harder to develop on the system. Let’s investigate the cause and clear up any confusion over the X1′s ESRAM."

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decrypt2024d ago (Edited 2024d ago )

Well there is a reason Nvidia and AMD use GDDR5 for graphics. Memory bandwidth limitations can become a huge bottleneck. Luckily even todays mid range GPUs provide in excess of 250GB/s, high end GPUs provide north of 325GB/s. Cant wait till Maxwell when these figures will probably double.

No wonder PC pushes 4k gaming while other platforms are pushing 720p and literally struggling by the time they get close to 1080p.

shoddy2024d ago ShowReplies(20)
worldwidegaming2024d ago

people do not want to hear the truth. They wish to be mislead by catchy made up words and cool gimmicks.
Even when the ship is sinking they still think things are OK right down to the part where they are drowning.
In denial.

amnalehu2024d ago

THE CLOUD will fix it....right..

SmokexFFx2024d ago (Edited 2024d ago )


Yea, what ever happened to that powerful cloud Microsoft kept mentioning. Powerful enough to do significant amounts of processing and take the stress off the Xbox One didn't they say?

Oh but maybe 'developers haven't mastered it yet', just like developers haven't mastered the incredible complexity of ESRAM. /s.

Prime1572024d ago

Ok, shrink it back in scale to 2006 when the 360 came out. Do you think you think no one was saying this?

Look, I agree with you fully: Console gaming is the budget gaming. However, there is still something to learn from it.

vallencer2024d ago

Or, and heres a thought, maybe a majority of people just don't care as much as you or anyone else about how "powerful" a console is. That's the truth.

I'm buying both, not on day one mind you but eventually. I'm getting the x1 first and it's because of the games. I love killer instinct and im intrigued by Ryse. Also dead rising 3 sold me. I had planned on buying a ps4 at lunch but the only game i was interested in was infamous and that got pushed back.

Also as far as the rest of their games go more than half of those indie games i can just buy on steam so why spend the extra 400 when i have a pc.

But in all honesty both WILL be great systems regardless of what everyone wants to say on the internet. The amount of hate and doom everyone had for the ps3 ended up being false. Sometimes things just take awhile and microsoft knows that.

mewhy322023d ago

More and more problems for the bone.

Consoldtobots2023d ago

for those that are technically challenged the long and short of it is this:

MS REALLY!!!!!!!! screwed up by going with GDDR3 as the article goes on to explain that as the BPP count rises this obsolete technology is up 90% slower than GDDR5 which you see on high end GPUs.
Sony knows what they are doing and MS does not, it's that simple.

mikeslemonade2023d ago (Edited 2023d ago )

Yep Sony has been around the block several times at making systems.

And please stop saying 4K TV or resolution. It's 2160P which is negligible. 1080p is enough for now. 720p isn't good enough.

thorstein2023d ago

You're right. What I found most intriguing from the article is the phrase "...single largest issue developers are facing right now when porting games over to the machine"

PORTING games over to the machine. Is PC the lead? Is PS4 the lead development console? Is this what was referred to last gen as "gimping" a game to make it even for both consoles?

And if it is such a huge problem, then why is MS releasing the console now? Delay and do it right.

+ Show (5) more repliesLast reply 2023d ago
thehitman2024d ago

Mid range GPUs dont have that much bandwidth I dont know where your getting those crazy numbers from. Anything higher than 160ish is high end. Everything 250+ is like super high end not even for real gaming purposes but for commercial/business purposes. Those Gpus are like 300-1k dollars.

Anyways this guy talks for a very long time if you dont want to listen to the entire vid like I did. I can sum it up. Basically ESram is not large enough they went with lowest cost over better performance. DDR3 sucks for everything gaming like most PC gamers know already... and if xb1 devs try to close the gap between the systems using the best tools it still wont be enough because of other bottlenecks. Ps4 is stronger than xb1 but we all knew that coming in he just explains why.

nypifisel2024d ago

Here's a good chart showing the BPP for the most common rendering technique in modern engines (deferred rendering) without anti-aliasing.

A 1080p framebuffer using forward rendering and no AA at 32 bits per pixel would be ~24mb big, using deferred rendering which is far more likely would put it at the total of 2073600 pixels so at differing BPP(Bytes per pixel) we would get:

16 BPP: 31.64mb
20 BPP: 39.55mb
24 BPP: 47.46mb
28 BPP: 55.37mb
32 BPP: 63.28mb

As a reference BF3 (1080p on PC) is 20BPP and KZ:SF is 24BPP both without AA. I can't imagine Next Gen going any lower than 16BPP.

As you can see, even without any AA a FB using deferred rendering is almost always going to be bigger than 32mb (the maximum size for the eSRAM in Xbox One). It's the reason why the eSRAM is too small to be used as a FB for 1080p and why 720p will be norm on Xbox One if they want to keep up with graphical detail.

deecee332023d ago

Hey nypifisel:

I agree the ESRAM seems to be a huge hurdle at this point. I also think we might see that increasing graphics workloads could stretch the X1's fillrate to the limit earlier than the PS4 given that the gpu is less powerful than the PS4's. That's just a guess, but it seems likely.

Question for you since you seem to know a bit more about this: what types of visible issues could we see if indeed they decide to deferred render at 1080p using 16bpp? It seems like this might be noticeable?

nypifisel2023d ago


Well unless rendering techniques changes in the near future (it wont) we will see a big downgrade in visuals on Xbox One version of games to hit 1080p. Let me try put it in easier terms;


you got one 16 cl glass which you first have to fill half way up with resolution (1080p) which gives you 8 cl left to fill with graphical detail (colours essentially). On the PS4 which have no restrictions what so ever in that department you could just take a twice as big of a glass, 32 cl, resolution at 1080p still takes up 8 cl but you have 24 cl left for graphical detail.

16 BPP and 1080p on the Xbox One means there aren't enough space for graphical fidelity.

Some of the most visible effects will be lack of AA solution. But it will also be such essentials as lack of dynamic lighting, reflections or even big textures. We can actually already see some of this in Forza. It's 1080p but it lacks a lot of the things you would've taken for granted by now; dynamic lighting, day night cycle (which is a result of the above), and the aliasing is pretty terrible too - I think we will see a bigger disparity going forward though cause the Xbox One won't be able to keep up in these departments.

deecee332020d ago

Thx nypifisel- I get you. The more details I read the more it seems like the XB1 was designed to be a fast 720p machine, which is fine, but you gotta wonder who thought of non-optional Kinect. Might not matter in ten years, because MS shareholders may nix the xbox if it's not profitable enough.

nypifisel2018d ago

Hehe I'm sorry if it was a bit messy, It always makes sense in my head but trying to show this to other is a bit of a struggle. And yes your conclusion is very likely and fair!

+ Show (2) more repliesLast reply 2018d ago
Bigpappy2024d ago (Edited 2024d ago )

I don't believe ESRAM has anything to do with it. If it is under performing, it will more likely be the way the recourses are split among the 2 OS and Kinect. X1 is doing a lot more than the PS4 with its resources.

Most developers are very familiar with ESRAM. It requires the same techniques as those used on the 360.

thehitman2024d ago

esram has a lot to do with it. It really just isnt good enough point and simple. Developers maybe familiar with it, but that was when they were developing games with a lot lower textures and resolution. When you are trying to reach much higher power the esram falls short and developers have to find new tricks to use it in the best way with the other resources they have. Thats why every game that will launch will be not as good as the ps4 version because the ps4 architecture is not only easy, but very efficient in all aspects to meet todays demands for gaming.

MS having 3 OS on their system communicating with each other is a totally entire different discussion in itself that wont affect gaming but the applications part of the system which they seem to not be having a problem with. If there was apps crashing and game crashing when using the apps side by side then you would have a point.

Cernunnos2024d ago

The frame buffer simply isn't large enough to handle 1080p.

Bigpappy2024d ago (Edited 2024d ago )

So how are they doing it with forza (1080p 60fps)? Ryse is 900p. Could they not have reduced the polly count to make the files smaller?

What ever happened to developer being lazy and focusing on the lowest common denominator? How come they are not gimping PS4 games like I was constantly told was the case with PS3? Just goes to show how much of what is said on the internet is only to suit a purpose, or just plain old lies.

thehitman2024d ago

@Big just because the game is in 1080p @ 60fps doesnt really mean much if the quality of the textures themselves dont require much. Your forgetting forza is a racing game. It doesnt take much power to make plastic/metal look real like it does to make a human face and hundreds of animations/effects. Then you could dig deeper about the environments around not being dynamic etc just ultimately not requiring much power. Racing games are a terrible benchmark of what hardware can do.

Regarding Ryse it should be at 1080p not 900p. The fact its not even 1080p @ 30fps in itself is alarming. Also the gimping of ps3 games was not really because of huge power differences but because the 360 was still using dvd9 which means games were built to be a lot smaller. If you look at xb1 and ps4 look how huge the files are for the games. That is how it shouldve been this current gen for all games. Ps3 exclusives took advantage of the extra disc space but when it came to mulitplats majority didnt.

Christopher2024d ago

***Most developers are very familiar with ESRAM. It requires the same techniques as those used on the 360.***

This is actually very true.

MysticStrummer2024d ago

I don't know about other devs, but Rockstar admitted outright that things were cut from GTA4 because of 360.

Bigpappy2024d ago

@MysticStrummer: if things were removed from the game because of 360, would it not likely be because of DVD rather than, power. Think for a second before spewing what ever fit your argument. Also provide a link, cause I have never heard of this and you guy done let stuff like that pass.

LordMaim2024d ago

No reason they both can't be true.

deecee332024d ago

The ESRAM is one of a couple bottlenecks. As the article explained, the ESRAM has to be intelligently used to be useful at 1080p. There's also the issue of fillrate- you need enough raw tflop performance and a fast enough usable pool of memory to feed the gpu (and feed it fast enough) to push 60 frames at 1080p. Sony's machine seems capable with the stronger gpu- it is looking like the ESRAM may only be a secondary concern when the dust settles and developers re-learn to use it. At the end of the day they may need a faster gpu to keep up with increasing workloads at high res. Sony's best move wasn't just the GDDR5- it was a GPU with the fillrate to make true HD at stable fps a realistic goal for the devs.

Volkama2024d ago

The 32mb ESRAM is apaprently too small for a 1080p render.

The 360 had 10mb EDRAM, that was surely too small for a 720p render.

The 360 had 720p games.

Maybe it's a little premature to shout "GAME OVER" at Redmond?

nypifisel2024d ago (Edited 2024d ago )

Maybe none of you understand how displaying pixels on a screen works. See the chart I posted above for FB sizes using deferred rendering. If the Xbox One wants to push 1080p it have to sacrifice in other areas, it's as simple as that. Whether the 360 with 10mb eDRAM could do 720p or not is really irrelevant.

schubacca2024d ago

I will not be thinking about ESRAM when I am playing Forza 5, TitanFall, and Halo 5.

I have absolutely nothing bad to say about the PS4, which is the more powerful system with the best 1st party support.

However, I will still be also enjoying the X1.

+ Show (10) more repliesLast reply 2024d ago
Mister_Dawg2024d ago

PC pushing 4k?

Have you the cost of the hardware you would need to only just get acceptable frame rates?
To get it to the realm of decent gaming, you have to go with multiple gpu's. Have a look in this months custom pc magazine. Holy crap, there's no way I'm dropping £600+ to get just over 35fps minimum at 4k in crysis 3.

No thanks.
PC isn't ready just yet for mass 4k.

kane_13712024d ago (Edited 2024d ago )

Yeah, the top rigs that run 4k on crysis 3 cost actually around 6k.
They run dual Nvidia Titans, that alone is 2k+, then you have the rams, ssd, and CPU and suddenly you are bankrupt.

But hey, you can at least play crysis 3 on 4k full settings and show them console peasants who's the boss!

I hate PC elitist -___-

Cernunnos2024d ago

1440p on the other hand is still twice the resolution that 1080p is. It looks gorgeous, and you can build a PC for less than 1000$ that can max bf4 with 1440p.

lilbroRx2024d ago

I ran Crysis at max setting at a little over 2k on Nvidia 550 Ti. It ran smoothly.

Its really not as taxing as people think on PC.

FTLightspeed2024d ago

@Cernunnos Presuming the same 16x9 aspect ratio as current HD, 1440p would have a resolution of 2560x1440, an over 50% improvement in resolution over 1080p. not double.

decrypt2024d ago (Edited 2024d ago )


Titans are not needed.

You could go for 3x GTX 780s or 3x R9 290's and achieve simular results for a much lower cost.

In any case PC graphics power doubles in 12-18months time. Meaning 4k should be much more affordable in 12 months from now.

cooperdnizzle2023d ago

@LilbroRX. You are straight up lying. I have a 680, I7, 16GB of ram, and can not run the game at max settings higher then 1080p. No need to lie.

+ Show (3) more repliesLast reply 2023d ago
Bathyj2024d ago

Its a very interesting read. MS have played it cheap with RAM for the sake of putting a camera in the box. Then they want us to believe having a really good band aid is better than not having a bleeding gaping wound in the first place.

On top of all that Kinect reserves 10% of the GPU and who knows how much of the RAM. MS has hamstrung itself out of the gate. If this were a racehorse it would be used to hold a chair together next month.

OrangePowerz2024d ago

The 360 solution worked fine for the 360 with a maximum of 512MB RAM (not even deducting yet the OS memory).

When you bump up the RAM to 5GB for gaming and change to high res textures and so on from last gen the 32MB ESRAM don`t cut it anymore. With games taking up to 50GB there is a huge amount of data moving around constantly.

4k is nice and all but it takes a lot of performance and it`s not cheap with the TVs and Monitors and will take a couple of years until those are affordable. The performance need will further increase once games actually use 4k assets.

kipsta2024d ago

Maxwell is going to be sweet! Q1/Q2 2014 apparently, very interested in a 880.

Looks like the ESRAM will be the "CELL" of this gen, being a pain is the a** for devs to work with.

insomnium22024d ago (Edited 2024d ago )

Yeah well like we all know by now CELL actually worked. With the ESRAM being only 32MB I cannot see in what practical way the devs are able to use it. I just don't see it happening. It's like bringing a bus to are race where the opposition has a normal car. Sure you have lots more room for people but you are just too slow to be competitive. In this case it's the exact opposite. Lots of speed but no room whatsoever. You get the idea I'm sure.

Automatic792024d ago (Edited 2024d ago )

By this time next year all games on Xbox one will be 1080p native. We already have a few examples for Xbox one so its a matter of time.

LordMaim2024d ago

By this time next year, all games on Xbox will come with a party hat and a flamingo casserole. We already have a few examples of statements that have no basis, so it's just a matter of time before someone makes another one.

lilbroRx2024d ago (Edited 2024d ago )

You do know that there are many high end GPU's from Nvida and AMD that use DDR3 and work just as well right?

People have been gaming in 1080p and beyond for over a decade on RAM much smaller and slower than what the next gen consoles have in them.

Though why am I saying this here. No one cares about facts and reality on this site. All they care about is spec boasting, and ever since Sony announced that they are using all GDDR5, people have been treating it like god ram when its not.

Last gen it was the all about "THE CELL". Now its all about GDDR5.

The Wii U has enough 1080p games to make it clear that 32 MB of edram is more than sufficient for 1080p gaming.

Xone games not being 1080p likely has more to with the development decisions vs overall GPU processing power than RAM performance.

dredgewalker2024d ago (Edited 2024d ago )

There aren't any high end gpu's today that use ddr3, only the low end ones use it for cost reduction.

SkullBlade1692023d ago (Edited 2023d ago )

Never mind, replied to wrong person.

+ Show (8) more repliesLast reply 2018d ago
OlgerO2024d ago ShowReplies(6)
DarkLordMalik2024d ago

The article lists PS4 GPU TFLOPS as 18.4TFLOPS. It is a simple mistake here. It is actually 1.84 TFLOPS.

Deividas2024d ago (Edited 2024d ago )

Not sure why you have disagrees for pointing out a mistake.

Sci0n2023d ago

some can't handle the truth

reynod2024d ago ShowReplies(5)
Agent_00_Revan2024d ago

Could you imagine if it was 18.4? o.O

reynod2024d ago (Edited 2024d ago )

Not a problem get 3x R9 290's in Crossfire and you are close to 17 TFLOPS of power :P Probably hit 18 TFLOPS with a bit of overclocking probably eclipse it lol.

Will cost about 1500usd though Not bad to have power that may be available on the next consoles when they launch in 7-8 years time.

Cernunnos2024d ago

a pair of R9 290's are not even close to 17 TFLOPS.. It would be closer to 6 TFLOPS.

Volkama2024d ago

A single R9 290X is something like 5.1 tflops stock. The regular R9 290 is expected this week, priced at approximately 1 PS4 and pushing 4.6 tflops.

They're still quite expensive, but the expensive PC of today is the mid-range PC of next year.

The moral of the story is console gamers should just talk about games :)

saikorican2023d ago

Just because someone can't afford $1500+ of tech doesn't mean they shouldn't be concerned about visuals. A little tired of PC users coming in and commenting about on every console article abut how PC is so far ahead if you have the cash for it. There's other forums for that you know.

+ Show (1) more replyLast reply 2023d ago
mark134uk2024d ago Show
creatchee2024d ago

This is a well-written, unbiased article that actually explains a lot of things instead of simply saying A is better than B. Even though X1 will have developers working harder, I'm sure that they will be able to get a lot out of the console once they've learned the tricks of it.

iceman062024d ago

I've heard the same thing stated from our resident "tech experts" on N4G. But, it's great to see this coming from an unbiased source.

Edsword2024d ago

I agree, the XB1 will likely have some very pretty and excellent games. However, I don't think its just a matter of working harder, XB1 games will likely always lag behind the PS4 in terms of graphics. MS best path forward is to focus on gameplay mechanics and new IPs to convince people graphics is not everything. However, the PS4 is pretty formidable and will likely have new IPs and great games as well. MS can still win this generation and certainly they have some capable development studios to do so. I just hope they don't try to buy this gen by purchasing a bunch of 3rd party exclusives, that is not fair to gamers of either console or PC.

Kushan2024d ago

There's nothing unbiased about this source, he's actually completely mistaken about the ESRAM as well. He's trying to state that the ESRAM is the bottleneck of the system when the reality is that it's the DDR3 that's holding everything back. The ESRAM actually helps reduce that bottleneck.

It's still not an excuse for cheaping out on the system Memory.