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If you want a next generation gaming console, then you want a PlayStation 4--and not an Xbox One

QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,130

Microsoft's long-awaited Xbox One reveal finally came yesterday.  The rumored hardware specs had long been rumored to be underwhelming compared to the PlayStation 4, and Microsoft didn't even make a token effort at dispelling such rumors.  Add in that Microsoft may not even have a cost of production advantage over Sony, and you have the makings of a disaster.

So how does Microsoft marketing handle this in their reveal?  Basically, they announce a game console, but don't want to talk much about gaming.  Instead, they focus more on, look at all the other things that the Xbox One can do.  Oh, and yeah, it can play games, too.  We think.

It actually reminded me some of the launch of Intel HD Graphics.  Intel marketing said, we're focused like a laser on a bunch of things that aren't gaming.  Now, that's too harsh to Microsoft; considered in isolation (or compared to a Wii U), the Xbox One will be a capable gaming machine, unlike the dismal failure known as Intel HD Graphics.  But if your gaming console is arguably better at games than the competition's, you're going to shout that to the rooftops.  That Microsoft didn't even make a token effort here is revealing.

Let's look at hardware.  Both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One have 8 AMD Jaguar cores, likely clocked at or a little below 2 GHz.  So they're basically identical there.

Both use AMD GCN graphics, but the PlayStation 4 has 18 GCN CUs, while the Xbox One only has 12.  Both are clocked at 800 MHz, so the PS4 has a 50% GPU advantage.  Advantage Sony, right?

Not so fast.  A Radeon HD 7870 is a lot faster than a Radeon HD 7770, and a GeForce GTX 660 is a lot faster than a GeForce GTX 650 Ti, but the latter card in both comparisons surely have an important role because they're cheaper.  All that Microsoft has to do is use its cheaper hardware as an opportunity to price its console cheaper than Sony's, right?

That's plausible until you look at memory.  Both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One have a 256-bit memory bus.  But the PlayStation 4 uses GDDR5 memory, while the Xbox One uses DDR3.  That means that the PS4 has vastly more memory bandwidth.  But we already knew that the PS4 was faster, so this also makes the Xbox One cheaper, right?

Well, no.  While DDR3 does tend to be cheaper than GDDR5, the Xbox One is strongly rumored to be using 2133 MHz DDR3 memory--that is, the very top bin of DDR3 that memory manufacturers sell.  Will that still be cheaper than GDDR5?  Maybe, but if so, likely not by all that much.

Now, it's pretty obvious where Microsoft is going with this.  While 2133 MHz will be top bin DDR3, it will be bottom bin DDR4.  A year or two after launch, Microsoft probably does a die shrink to 20 nm and shifts the memory from DDR3 to DDR4.  Will bottom bin DDR4 be cheaper than high bin GDDR5?  You bet it will.  Eventually.

But there's still the problem that traditionally, any card using DDR3 memory really shouldn't be considered a gaming card.  You could at various times make a case for a DDR3 version of a Radeon HD 4670, 5570, 5670, or 6670 as a budget card, but you don't want to pay $400 for a gaming console with all of the GPU performance of a $60 budget card.

While there is a big difference between dual channel DDR3 at 1600 MHz (like the budget video cards use) and quad channel DDR3 at 2133 MHz (as the Xbox One is rumored to use), the Xbox One would still very much be crippled by memory bandwidth.  So Microsoft tried to fix this by adding 32 MB of ESRAM to the die, with something like 100 GB/s of bandwidth to the GPU.  That gets it total memory bandwidth in the same ballpark as the PS4.  Yay, Xbox One?

Well, no.  With the PS4, you can use the memory bandwidth any way you want and it's there and it works.  With the Xbox One, you need to use a majority of your memory bandwidth from a small 32 MB pool rather than the normal 8 GB if you want to take advantage of the memory bandwidth.  Anything that the Xbox One can do here, the PlayStation 4 can mimic pretty well, but the converse is wildly false.

To be fair to Microsoft, using a large fraction of your memory bandwidth from a small 32 MB pool actually is realistic for a lot of games.  Every single time you run a pixel/fragment shader with the depth test enabled--which typically means, most of the time that you run a shader, period--you have to read from the depth buffer.  If you pass the depth test, you write to it as well and also write to the frame buffer.  Meanwhile, post-processing effects involve reading very heavily from a frame buffer-like object used as an intermediate step.  At 1080p, the depth buffer is just shy of 8 MB, as is a frame buffer.  With one depth buffer, a front frame buffer, a back frame buffer, and an extra frame buffer available for use as an internal step in a multi-pass rendering algorithm, you total just a shade under 32 MB needed for the very heavily accessed data.  The 32 MB of ESRAM is not a coincidence.

But what happens if you need larger buffers?  For example, if you want a monitor resolution higher than 1080p?  Or if you want stereoscopic 3D?  Or MSAA, SSAA, or any other form of anti-aliasing that computes multiple pixels for each pixel of the final image and then averages them?  (FXAA, MLAA, and other forms of post-processing anti-aliasing are fine here.)  Well then, suddenly you need a lot more than 32 MB for your very heavily accessed buffers--meaning that the fraction of your memory reads from ESRAM drops precipitously and you suddenly have a massive memory bandwidth bottleneck that the PS4 won't have.

But what about the cost of production?  The first problem here is that on-die ESRAM greatly bloats the die size--and hence the cost of production.  Microsoft is claiming that the die has 5 billion transistors.  For comparison, that's substantially more than the 4.3 billion of a Radeon HD 7970 or the 3.5 billion of a GeForce GTX 680.  Some have estimated that the ESRAM accounts for around 1/3 of the transistors in the SoC of the Xbox One.  With cost of production proportional to die size, the main chip in the Xbox One might actually cost more than that of the PlayStation 4.

That would leave Microsoft with a much slower console but without a big price advantage.  So why did they go that route?  Well, it is lower power, for one.  Even if it's not cheaper today, it could still become cheaper eventually, as ESRAM will probably scale very well with future die shrinks and DDR4 will eventually be cheaper.

But there's also the possibility that Microsoft was counting on having a memory capacity advantage.  Early rumors put the PlayStation 4 at 4 GB of total memory, not the 8 GB that Sony announced.  One channel of GDDR5 memory can only have four memory chips attached.  With 2 Gb (256 MB) as the largest size of GDDR5 memory chips available, that caps you at 1 GB per channel.  Having four memory channels means that Sony is capped at 4 GB of total memory.

Unless, of course, someone comes out with 4 Gb (512 MB) GDDR5 memory chips.  Not coincidentally, Hynix has promised to do exactly that later this year, just in time to be used in the PlayStation 4.  Samsung and Micron will presumably do so as well, and probably at about the same time, though I haven't seen any announcement on it.  (That's not to say that Samsung and Micron haven't already announced it, but only that I haven't seen such an announcement.)

Also, don't count on this ending up like the Xbox 360 versus PlayStation 3, in which the latter was theoretically faster in peak performance, but much harder to exploit the hardware.  If anything, it will probably be easier to exploit the full capabilities of the PlayStation 4 than the Xbox One, not harder, because there's no need to fuss with ESRAM capacity.

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Comments

  • ShakyMoShakyMo Member CommonPosts: 7,207
    They will both be bad compared to a current mid / high end pc though.

    Say they cost £300, you can build a better pc for £600. Now people might think, double the price.

    But then current old gen console games cost £45, where as Aaa pc games cost £30.

    So within a year, if you buy a game a month, your better pc is costing you £420 when you take into account what you save on game prices minus the markup to Sony / microsoft

    So if you buy a lot of games the pc soon works out cheaper, and will be more powerfull and will let you do all that non gaming stuff better than a console. And that's not counting all the steam sales, indie scene etc..

  • DamonVileDamonVile Member CommonPosts: 4,818

    Most of the performance numbers end up, the games all play the same but some guy can show you on a chart why one is better than the other.

     

    I'd be more worried about the other BS microsoft is tossing around like always online or a fee for second hand games. Nothing confirmed but something that would be a deal breaker if I was actually inclined to buy either.

  • mrBurns210mrBurns210 Member Posts: 114
    I am hoping Steam does it right by the Steam Box.
  • RidelynnRidelynn Member EpicPosts: 7,061

    I don't think it will matter all that much.

    Grand scheme of things, we'll get games that run on the lowest common denominator anyway.

    As far as "other BS" that Microsoft forces: least of which is the paid Live subscription to do things online that every other console lets you do for free.... and that's been since the original XBox.

  • InsaneDalekInsaneDalek Member Posts: 119

    Microsoft has completely lost my support after the Xbox One (seriously, who chose that name?) announcement. Very disappointed, bordering on heartbroken.

    If I want to watch TV, I'll head over to Hulu, not turn on my 'gaming' console. Or better yet I'll head to the living room and watch one of my many satellite channels.

    MS went from serious contender to a laughingstock in one damned night. For shame!

    It's a sad day indeed when a family is too afraid of reprisals to publicly thank somebody for saving their lives.

  • whisperwyndwhisperwynd Member UncommonPosts: 1,668

     If I do go for a console, it will be the PS4. The Xbox360 disappointed me greatly. Ran games fine, but only in later models did it have wi-fi. Want to play online? Pay for membership..Can I use it to watch netflix? Sure, but you must have that membership.

    Nah, won't get the Xbox One. 

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,130
    Originally posted by Ridelynn

    I don't think it will matter all that much.

    Grand scheme of things, we'll get games that run on the lowest common denominator anyway.

    Are there any games that run on a Radeon HD 7870 but not on a Radeon HD 7770?  Any at all?

    Then why does anyone ever buy a Radeon HD 7870?  The answer is obvious:  they can run the same games, but the 7870 can do it at higher settings than the 7770.  Likewise, I'd expect to see the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One run many of the same games, but the PlayStation 4 to commonly run the game at higher settings or higher frame rates.

    Now suppose that you have your choice of a Radeon HD 7870 or a Radeon HD 7770 for the same price.  Even if you don't think that the higher settings of the 7870 are a bit deal, do you really decline it in favor of a 7770 at the same price?  Likewise, if the Xbox One costs the same as a PlayStation 4, do you really have to think about which one to get?

    And that's before you consider Microsoft trying to harass people with excessive online requirements for single player games and so forth.

  • jpnzjpnz Member Posts: 3,529
    I'm really interested at MS short term strategy here. You have the used game fee ($60) which alienates your retail partners and no indie self publish. That is a sizable chunk to exclude from your platform.

    Gdemami -
    Informing people about your thoughts and impressions is not a review, it's a blog.

  • ninjapyninjapy Member UncommonPosts: 39

    360 Gamers will stick with there 360's , PS3 gamers will buy PS4. Xbox One was built to appeal to someone different. The gadget guy or gal and so on. It wasn't made to appeal to PS3 fanboi's or even compare itself to PS4. Its a whole new animal. It's about longevity for Microsoft. PS4 will do well this Christmas I'm sure, but Xbox One will endure for the next ten years  while Sony wonders what there goin to do next as Microsoft pulls market share. So don't compare the 2 just yet. Like Microsoft said at the Unveiling, they will show games at E3. Or was I the only one to catch that comment.

     

  • GruntyGrunty Member EpicPosts: 8,657
    Originally posted by ninjapy

    360 Gamers will stick with there 360's , PS3 gamers will buy PS4. Xbox One was built to appeal to someone different. The gadget guy or gal and so on. It wasn't made to appeal to PS3 fanboi's or even compare itself to PS4. Its a whole new animal. It's about longevity for Microsoft. PS4 will do well this Christmas I'm sure, but Xbox One will endure for the next ten years  while Sony wonders what there goin to do next as Microsoft pulls market share. So don't compare the 2 just yet. Like Microsoft said at the Unveiling, they will show games at E3. Or was I the only one to catch that comment.

     

    I know where you can score a great deal on an AMC Pacer.

    "I used to think the worst thing in life was to be all alone.  It's not.  The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone."  Robin Williams
  • ElRenmazuoElRenmazuo Member RarePosts: 5,361
    Originally posted by ninjapy

    360 Gamers will stick with there 360's , PS3 gamers will buy PS4. Xbox One was built to appeal to someone different. The gadget guy or gal and so on. It wasn't made to appeal to PS3 fanboi's or even compare itself to PS4. Its a whole new animal. It's about longevity for Microsoft. PS4 will do well this Christmas I'm sure, but Xbox One will endure for the next ten years  while Sony wonders what there goin to do next as Microsoft pulls market share. So don't compare the 2 just yet. Like Microsoft said at the Unveiling, they will show games at E3. Or was I the only one to catch that comment.

     

    Sony hasnt even revealed all the features of the PS4 yet cuz they are also waiting til E3 for that.  In the end for gamers it all comes down to which one has the best exclusives and so far PS4 is winning in that part and they still have more to reveal coming E3.  And sony will get cash for every xbox one sold since sony owns the license to blu-ray...sony stock spiked when MS said the xbox has blu-ray.  i can watch tons of television entertainment on my PS3 already if i wanted to, it has netflix and all that too and thats just PS3.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,130
    Originally posted by ninjapy

    360 Gamers will stick with there 360's , PS3 gamers will buy PS4. Xbox One was built to appeal to someone different. The gadget guy or gal and so on. It wasn't made to appeal to PS3 fanboi's or even compare itself to PS4. Its a whole new animal. It's about longevity for Microsoft. PS4 will do well this Christmas I'm sure, but Xbox One will endure for the next ten years  while Sony wonders what there goin to do next as Microsoft pulls market share. So don't compare the 2 just yet. Like Microsoft said at the Unveiling, they will show games at E3. Or was I the only one to catch that comment.

    And why exactly would someone with an Xbox 360 stay with that forever as game developers move elsewhere?

    And do you really see a bunch of people rushing out to buy a game console for reasons other than playing games on it?

  • drbaltazardrbaltazar Member UncommonPosts: 7,856
    Op!you probably don't know ms much!they have a lot of flaw true !but being stupid isn't one of them.why do you think Intel still use 4 core as its main processor.ya ms had a huge impact in this!why?because ms always said if you have to chose go for speed not the number of core.for ms to go 8 core means only one thing!they aren't telling the whole picture.they are doing things differently.I was using a single core wp7.5 and to tell you it was faster then almost any smartphone.ya ms is a software company .I don't doubt Sony won't be able to keep up with ms .donnybrook alone can kill most of what Sony can bring.and ms got ton of optimisation like donnybrook.my main concern will be more on the sRGB scrgb front.ms just need to optimise for 1080i and they all be better then Sony.as for the graphic optimisation like msaa etc.none will be needed if they fix sRGB and scrgb.(yep we need the GPU setting only because sRGB and scrgb are set for CRT not led IPS.
  • SmikisSmikis Member UncommonPosts: 1,045
    Originally posted by drbaltazar
    Op!you probably don't know ms much!they have a lot of flaw true !but being stupid isn't one of them.why do you think Intel still use 4 core as its main processor.ya ms had a huge impact in this!why?because ms always said if you have to chose go for speed not the number of core.for ms to go 8 core means only one thing!they aren't telling the whole picture.they are doing things differently.I was using a single core wp7.5 and to tell you it was faster then almost any smartphone.ya ms is a software company .I don't doubt Sony won't be able to keep up with ms .donnybrook alone can kill most of what Sony can bring.and ms got ton of optimisation like donnybrook.my main concern will be more on the sRGB scrgb front.ms just need to optimise for 1080i and they all be better then Sony.as for the graphic optimisation like msaa etc.none will be needed if they fix sRGB and scrgb.(yep we need the GPU setting only because sRGB and scrgb are set for CRT not led IPS.

    nothing you said even made any sense, da fuck,, both of them runs 8 core cpu btw

    both of them will have same looking games, one might run at higher fps rate, but i seriously doubt there will be big performance different for devs to ever consider different textures for each console, they wont

    ps4 is more of gaming console, xbox one is just random joke, any smartphone or pc can and already did for decade all that new xbox will do, i am not even sure why you need console to watch tv, maybe thats NA thing where you need extra hardware to watch tv,, seems like big thing for xbox one,

    anyway i will stick with my pc, so should all of you

  • RynetRynet Member UncommonPosts: 114
    I'm getting PS4 for the fact that I've always been a PlayStation fan and I really don't want to have pay monthly/gold membership.
  • GravargGravarg Member UncommonPosts: 3,424
    Both Microsoft and Sony know that consoles are dying, that's why they're trying to branch out away from gaming.  PC is the next gen console :)
  • sbantingsbanting Member Posts: 238

    One thing I've heard time and time again is that MS have great support for devs, and Sony don't. That might be down to the Cell being a pain in the ass, when it first came out, I dunno, but I always felt the PS3 didn't ever unlock all its potential. Saying that, games haven't advanced much in the last few years, so hardware wise it won't take much to keep up. Hopefully, dev's will now push their engines to give us better textures, and better quality models, now that the consoles have more RAM.

     

    Like all the other posts, most dev's will just make for the xbox one, and port over to the ps4, as the xbox one will be the lowest in hardware. I doubt they would even play with the textures, settings, to give the ps4 something to chew on, instead cheap port, and make money lol. Hopefully though, the exclusives will show us what each console is really made of, and I hope that Sony comes back out on top, as I loved the PS2 days, let down by the PS3 lol. Saying all that though, I doubt i'll ever pay £400 for a console worse or equal to my current computer!!

    image

  • YaevinduskYaevindusk Member RarePosts: 2,094
    Originally posted by Gravarg
    Both Microsoft and Sony know that consoles are dying, that's why they're trying to branch out away from gaming.  PC is the next gen console :)

     

    You know, I think there's some truth to this.  Though computer gaming will likely evolve as computer chips do.  Who knows?  Maybe we'll be playing games on our walls in the future (with wall paper having computer chips a hundred times more powerful than what we have now).  That is, if you believe in Moore's law.

     

     

    Edit:

     

    I forgot to mention...

     

    TELEVISION!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbWgUO-Rqcw

    Due to frequent travel in my youth, English isn't something I consider my primary language (and thus I obtained quirky ways of writing).  German and French were always easier for me despite my family being U.S. citizens for over a century.  Spanish I learned as a requirement in school, Japanese and Korean I acquired for my youthful desire of anime and gaming (and also work now).  I only debate in English to help me work with it (and limit things).  In addition, I'm not smart enough to remain fluent in everything and typically need exposure to get in the groove of things again if I haven't heard it in a while.  If you understand Mandarin, I know a little, but it has actually been a challenge and could use some help.

    Also, I thoroughly enjoy debates and have accounts on over a dozen sites for this.  If you wish to engage in such, please put effort in a post and provide sources -- I will then do the same with what I already wrote (if I didn't) as well as with my responses to your own.  Expanding my information on a subject makes my stance either change or strengthen the next time I speak of it or write a thesis.  Allow me to thank you sincerely for your time.
  • WhiteLanternWhiteLantern Member RarePosts: 3,044

    Remember when Sony said something along the lines of " we want the PS2 to do everything"? Ya, somebody at Microsoft bought that line and still thinks its a good idea for a game console to function as a game console when it's not being a blender in the kitchen.

     

     

     

    I want a mmorpg where people have gone through misery, have gone through school stuff and actually have had sex even. -sagil

  • Nhoj1983Nhoj1983 Member UncommonPosts: 185

    I'm with the op about the specs as well as their conference being stupid.. you don't unveil a console and not focus on games.  I originally went xbox instead of ps2.. this gen I went ps3 (boat loads more exclusives..) and the next.. well it'll come down to three things.. Price, value, and games.  Truth be told the features they talked about were cool.. just not at all what I wanted to hear about when they pulled the curtain

     

    Price.. If xbox is 50-100 dollars less than ps4 it'll be far more tempting a product than the ps4.  We don't know where the game's going to be played here and this leads to value.

     

    Value-  This gen ps3 won here.  Playstation plus gives at least one major game a month plus about three others one for vita and two psn games, deep discounting, and beta preference.  All the while not requiring anyone to pay to use netflix or play games online.  The biggest opportunity Microsoft has is by changing xbox live's membership from an all encompassing requirement to perk based a la playstation plus.  For example they could use their new halo series to kick off a whole new streaming service that is free for xbox live members.  Otherwise... ps4 wins here again. (barring a serious difference in cost)

     

    Games-  Games are what we buy these things for.. Playstation again won here this gen.. comparatively xbox's exclusives right now are meager and comparatively redundant... no new ips the last few years.  They said they were going to change but are all these new ips kinect games?  Will they just just be new shooters?  It's all talk until they tell us something and right now.  PS4 already has them licked games wise with the info we have if that's all they're bringing to the table.  I can't help but think Microsoft's better than this.. they can't expect this to win the system wars... can they?  I'll wait until E3 but if they don't come out shooting they'll lose the hard core audience if they haven't already with this weak reveal.

  • ChrisboxChrisbox Member UncommonPosts: 1,729
    As a hardcore 360 player, PS4 is appealing to me right now more than one.  

    Played-Everything
    Playing-LoL

  • grndzrogrndzro Member UncommonPosts: 1,156

    PS4 and Xbox have common architecture this time so there will be very few titles that are not on both consoles that are from independent developers. 

    Sony has more flagship titles and more powerful hardware. PS4 has GDDR5 while Xbox has DDR3. With that said PS4 will dominate because Sony pays far more attention to RPG developers. FPS developers will make their games for both platforms. Sony charges less for it's online components and IMO has better controllers. Sony also has BR allowing even the most absurdly large titles to be on 1 disc.

  • RemyVorenderRemyVorender Member RarePosts: 3,858
    Next-Gen Console = Upgrade your PC.

    Currently playing: Destiny 2, Apex Legends and MTG: Arena

    ==============================================================

    Played: AA, AC1, AC2, Aion, AO, AoC, BDO, CO, CoX, DAoC, DCUO, EVE, EQ1, EQ2, ESO, Fallen Earth, FFXI, FFXIV, GW1, GW2, Istaria, L2, LoTRO, MxO, Neverwinter, Rift, RoE, Ryzom, Shadowbane, SWG, SWTOR, TERA, TSW, WAR, WoW, WURM...and a bunch of others not worth mentioning.

    ===============================================================

    Joined - July 2004

  • grndzrogrndzro Member UncommonPosts: 1,156
    Originally posted by remyburke
    Next-Gen Console = Upgrade your PC.

    If you want to play rpg's then a console is the only way. Unless you wait 10 years for an emulator.

     

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,130
    Originally posted by Nhoj1983

    Price.. If xbox is 50-100 dollars less than ps4 it'll be far more tempting a product than the ps4.  We don't know where the game's going to be played here and this leads to value.

    While we don't know how Microsoft and Sony will price their respective consoles (Sony is rumored to have a launch price of $425, though prices often change later), the amount they charge is related to the amount that it costs to build the consoles.  There, it's not clear that Microsoft will have any cost of production advantage at all.  If they do, it surely won't be as large as $50, let alone $100.

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