PlayStation 4 and Xbox One Power Differences
Published: Monday, September 23, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 14:09
The PlayStation 4 is faster than the Xbox One. At least that’s what is being reported by Edge, based on reports from reliable sources within the game development industry.
“Multiple high-level game development sources have described the difference in performance between the consoles as ‘significant’ and ‘obvious’,” says an article on Edge’s website.
Specifically, memory read speeds on PlayStation 4 are around 40-50 percent faster than that of the Xbox One. Meanwhile, the ALU, or algorithmic logic unit, clocks in at about 50 percent speedier than Microsoft’s contender.
“One basic example we were given suggested that without optimization for either console, a platform-agnostic development build can run at around 30FPS in 1920×1080 on PS4, but it’ll run at ‘20-something’ FPS in 1600×900 on Xbox One,” the article continues.
One very blatant developer sums the issue up, concluding that “‘Xbox One is weaker and it’s a pain to use its ESRAM.”
This isn’t a huge surprise, considering the two companies’ track records. Sony has traditionally been a hardware company, putting power and design over ease of use. Meanwhile, Microsoft made its millions in the software space, designing easy-to-understand user interfaces, and an architecture used by practically every software engineer on the planet.
However, the PlayStation 3 was built on the notoriously complicated “Cell” processor. That means, while the system is technically superior to the Xbox 360, it is a pain for third-party developers to build for. That is why this generation saw games like Uncharted and The Last of Us looking as good as they did, while games like Call of Duty built for the lowest common denominator and looked largely the same on both consoles.
This time, however, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are based on the X86 architecture—essentially making them very powerful personal computers, and almost identical to design for. The change-up is rumored to have been the result of a more Western approach to design, than the traditionally Japanese philosophy.
Ken Kutaragi - often called the “Father of the PlayStation”—headed up design of the PlayStation 3, as well as its predecessors. The PlayStation 4’s lead system architect, however, is American Mark Cerny.
Cerny has been a designer, programmer, and consultant on dozens of video games, dating as far back as the arcade days. He was a producer, as well as executive producer on the first three Crash Bandicoot games, which were seminal mascot platformers for the original PlayStation. He’s even acting as the director on one of the PlayStation 4’s launch titles—Knack.
Both systems are currently being updated, and will continue to do so well beyond launch. Microsoft is supposedly aware of the power gap between its system and the new PlayStation.
The main point of contention now seems to be Microsoft lagging behind with its graphics drivers.
One designer states the Microsoft’s Xbox One team “has been late on their drivers and that has been hurting them.” Another simply calls the drivers “horrible.”
Microsoft recently upped the clock speed of the Xbox’s processor, which has apparently helped—if only slightly.
One of the aforementioned, anonymous developer puts it, “Of course, something is better than nothing.”
Multi-platform games will probably continue looking more-or-less the same, as it is always easier and cheaper to develop for the lowest common denominator. However, in the long run this could once again mean better looking first-party games for Sony’s platform.
Whatever the future holds, the PlayStation 4 will almost definitely remain the most powerful console when it launches in North America on Nov. 15.