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Xbox One dev kit update to free up more power for the console

Xbox One
Xbox One
Photo courtesy of Microsoft, used with permission.

The Xbox One has been battered in the press and the gaming community for the perceived lack of power when compared to Sony’s Playstation 4. Part of that difference is because Microsoft made the decision to lockdown some of the console’s power at launch. Xbox head Phil Spencer announced Wednesday that will change for game developers in June.

“June #XboxOne software dev kit gives devs access to more GPU bandwidth. More performance, new tools and flexibility to make games better,” Spencer posted on Twitter.

The importance of this for the Xbox One can’t be understated as currently approximately 10 percent of GPU resources were reserved for Kinect even if a game had no use for the motion sensing device, according to an interview with Microsoft technical fellow Andrew Goossen. As a result, games released since the console’s launch have been a mixed back of resolutions between 792p and 1080p with varying frame rate performances as well.

This update to the Xbox One dev kit has reportedly been in the works for a while. Respawn Entertainment mentioned the freeing up of resources in an interview with Digital Foundry prior to the launch of “Titanfall” but it’s taken longer than anticipated for the change to be implemented.

Unfortunately, the freeing up of resources and tool improvements will have no effect on current Xbox One games. It’s not even known if developers will be able to go back and tweak the game with a patch to run at a higher or more stable framerate. That does nothing for resolution though which would require a rework of all of a game’s assets.

While we don’t know exactly how much extra performance the Xbox One will get out of the dev kit update, it is still not as powerful as the PS4 GPU. However, it should bring the Xbox One a little closer to par. The release of DirectX 12 later this year is also expected to help improve performance somewhat but, again, nobody knows how much at the moment.