You may not know this, but the CPU in the Xbox One is actually a little more capable than the one powering Sony’s console. While they’re very nearly identical, the Xbox One’s CPU runs at a higher clock speed.
It was given an even bigger boost once Microsoft removed mandatory Kinect support, giving developers access to extra processing power that was otherwise taken up by the ill-fated motion-sensing peripheral. When both systems were released, just six of their eight cores was open to developers. Late last year, Microsoft updated its software development kit to allow for one extra core to be used for processing.
It’s why some games – particularly those that are CPU dependent – run better on the Xbox One, like Assassin’s Creed Unity with its thousands of (unnecessary) NPCs. The reason PlayStation 4 games tend to run and look better overall despite this though, is the beefier GPU in Sony’s system. For the most part though, the performance gap between the two consoles has been significantly reduced. It could, however, widen once again.
Sony has, apparently, unlocked a 7th core for use in games. The latest version of Sony’s PlayStation 4 SDK frees up one of the cores that was put aside for system functions. So says Fireflight Technology’s FMOD API’s changelog, which has been updated to allow the newly unlocked 7th core to work.
It’s not unusual for cores and memory to be locked to developers when systems are relatively new. Platform makers need to make sure that things run properly before freeing up those resources. It’s better to put them aside, than have an operating system that runs like syrup.
While this change won’t become immediately apparent, it does mean that future PlayStation 4 games should have increased performance. And with some patching, some old ones may as well. I do, however, suspect that this change was mostly made with PlayStation VR in mind.
Hopefully, with a few more revisions Sony can free up some of the memory that the PlayStation 4 has reserved for OS functionality.
Last Updated: November 30, 2015