The Xbox One is getting better, says Metro devs

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For a while, PlayStation 4 games were running at higher resolutions and framerates than their Xbox One counterparts. This is changing, as games like Diablo 3: Ultimate Evil Edition, Destiny and Metro Redux have shown. Much of this increase in performance has been ascribed to the extra 10 percent of power that was reserved for Kinect, but has now been freed up. It’s not quite as simple as that, as Metro developer 4A games explains.

“Well, the issue is slightly more complicated – it is not like ‘here, take that ten per cent of performance we’ve stolen before’,” 4A’s Oles Shishkovstov told Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry

“…actually it is variable, like sometimes you can use 1.5 per cent more, and sometimes seven per cent and so on. We could possibly have aimed for a higher res, but we went for a 100 percent stable, vsync-locked frame-rate this time That is not to say we could not have done more with more time.

Right now, the Xbox one is still behind the PS4 in many ways, but it’s something that’s changing, with 4A saying that “the XDK and system software continues to improve every month.”

“Microsoft is not sleeping, really. Each XDK that has been released both before and after the Xbox One launch has brought faster and faster draw-calls to the table,” he said.

“They added tons of features just to work around limitations of the DX11 API model. They even made a DX12/GNM style do-it-yourself API available – although we didn’t ship with it on Redux due to time constraints.”

There is a very definite power gulf between the two consoles though, as Digital Foundry found out… though it’s probably not as great as you imagine.

PS4 is just a bit more powerful. You forgot to mention the ROP count, it’s important too – and let’s not forget that both CPU and GPU share bandwidth to DRAM [on both consoles]. I’ve seen a lot of cases while profiling Xbox One when the GPU could perform fast enough but only when the CPU is basically idle. Unfortunately I’ve even seen the other way round, when the CPU does perform as expected but only under idle GPU, even if it (the CPU) is supposed to get prioritised memory access. That is why Microsoft’s decision to boost the clocks just before the launch was a sensible thing to do with the design set in stone.

“Counting pixel output probably isn’t the best way to measure the difference between them though. There are plenty of other (and more important factors) that affect image quality besides resolution. We may push 40% more pixels per frame on PS4, but it’s not 40% better as a result… your own eyes can tell you that.”

The whole interview is a long and technical one, but it’s interesting reading for people who like to know more about the hardware powering their games, without really divulging in to fanboy drivel.

Last Updated: August 28, 2014

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