Microsoft Director of Product Planning Albert Penello caused a stir last week with a forum posting stating "There is no way we’re giving up a 30%+ advantage to Sony" with the Xbox One. He returned Tuesday with a new post directly comparing the hardware of Microsoft's next-gen console against the Playstation 4 and promising a more in-depth look at the Xbox One's hardware in the future.
Debate following Penello's original post in a NeoGAF thread became so heated that the moderators at the popular gaming form were forced to lock it. Penello said in a new thread he was only looking to stir debate on games and was not trying to create any "spin or FUD" nor was he trying to disparage Sony. What he does want to do though is, "explain that the way people are calculating the differences between the two machines isn't completely accurate" and clear up misinformation about the Xbox One.
He then provided a series of comparison points between the PS4 and Xbox One starting with the graphics performance.
- 18 CU's vs. 12 CU's =/= 50% more performance. Multi-core processors have inherent inefficiency with more CU's, so it's simply incorrect to say 50% more GPU.
- Adding to that, each of our CU's is running 6% faster. It's not simply a 6% clock speed increase overall.
Memory performance is up next where much of the debate has been between the PS4's use of newer GDDR5 memory versus the Xbox One's use of older DDR3 chips. Microsoft's use of ESRAM is the difference maker though according to Penello.
- We have more memory bandwidth. 176gb/sec is peak on paper for GDDR5. Our peak on paper is 272gb/sec. (68gb/sec DDR3 + 204gb/sec on ESRAM). ESRAM can do read/write cycles simultaneously so I see this number mis-quoted.
CPU performance has been one of the least debated areas of performance because most assume that the two custom AMD chips in the consoles are roughly equal. However, Microsoft recently announced a clock speed boost for the Xbox One.
- We have at least 10% more CPU. Not only a faster processor, but a better audio chip also offloading CPU cycles.
And General Purpose Graphics Processing Unit (GPGPU) is the last on the docket with Penello saying that Microsoft has plenty of experience in this arena already.
- We understand GPGPU and its importance very well. Microsoft invented Direct Compute, and have been using GPGPU in a shipping product since 2010 - it's called Kinect.
- Speaking of GPGPU - we have 3X the coherent bandwidth for GPGPU at 30gb/sec which significantly improves our ability for the CPU to efficiently read data generated by the GPU.
"I still I believe that we get little credit for the fact that, as a SW company, the people designing our system are some of the smartest graphics engineers around – they understand how to architect and balance a system for graphics performance," Pennello explained. "Each company has their strengths, and I feel that our strength is overlooked when evaluating both boxes."
He concluded by stating more information about the Xbox One hardware directly from the people that worked on it would be coming in the future.
"Given this continued belief of a significant gap, we're working with our most senior graphics and silicon engineers to get into more depth on this topic. They will be more credible then I am, and can talk in detail about some of the benchmarking we've done and how we balanced our system."
While debating hardware numbers and how they add up is fine, the winner of this console war will ultimately come down to which side can produce the best content.
You can follow Scott via Facebook, Twitter, RSS feed or email alerts for all the latest game news and deals as well as the weekly Furious Fourcast podcast/videocast. All game news on Examiner can be followed at the Game On Facebook page and Twitter feed.