Posted on September 23, 2013, Mike Sharkey Balance or Power? Comparing Xbox One and PS4 Hardware
Which next-gen console will be better? Game Front gives the definitive opinion with our massive Xbox One vs. Playstation 4 Ultimate Buyer’s Guide..
Kudos to the folks at Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry. The tech geeks not only went in-depth with the Microsoft Xbox One architects over the weekend, they put one of the designers’ biggest claims to the test. A balanced design allows the Xbox One to bridge the gap the PlayStation 4 enjoys in terms of raw power, Microsoft claims. But does it really?
Here’s the deal: while the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 feature nearly identical AMD-designed custom eight-core CPUs, their GPUs are very different. The PS4′s GPU features 18 compute units to Xbox One’s 12. This is the critical hardware differential cited when anyone says the PS4 is more powerful than the Xbox One.
Digital Foundry asked Microsoft’s Xbox One designers about this differential, and in a highly detailed response, the architects explain at length why balancing memory, CPU clock speeds, and raw GPU power is the real key to avoiding bottlenecks and achieving peak performance. With plenty of time to tweak their design (and boost the Xbox One CPU’s clock speed) ahead of launch, MS says it has found that perfect balance, essentially negating the PS4′s GPU advantage.
So Microsoft says that game performance doesn’t truly scale with the number of compute units you have. Is that true? Digital Foundry put that claim to the test:
In their tests, Digital Foundry found that 50% more compute power (the same advantage the PS4 enjoys) actually yielded an average of 24% improvement in game frame rates. That’s a real, significant advantage.
To be fair, these tests were done using hardware that mimics what we know about the consoles, not the consoles themselves. However, if the Xbox One really does keep up with the PS4, it will have to feature some pretty amazing balancing to overcome that 24% advantage.
We’ll finally get to see how these consoles perform for ourselves when the PlayStation 4 launches November 15 and the Xbox One follows a week later on the 22nd.