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    Digital Foundry vs. the Xbox One architects

    Two months away from the release of the next generation consoles, many have already made up their minds about which machine offers more gaming power before a single game has been released. Compare basic graphics and memory bandwidth specs side-by-side and it looks like a wash - PlayStation 4 comprehensively bests Xbox One to such a degree that sensible discussion of the respective merits of both consoles seems impossible. They're using the same core AMD technologies, only Sony has faster memory and a much larger graphics chip. But is it really that simple?

    In the wake of stories from unnamed sources suggesting that PS4 has a significant advantage over its Xbox counterpart, Microsoft wanted to set the record straight. Last Tuesday, Digital Foundry dialled into a conference call to talk with two key technical personnel behind the Xbox One project - passionate engineers who wanted the opportunity to put their story across in a deep-dive technical discussion where all the controversies could be addressed. Within moments of the conversation starting, it quickly became clear that balance would the theme....
    More at the source

    A good lengthy read from DF as always

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    C'mon November. Spec talk is nice but nicer when we have true gaming evidence from which to compare everything

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    Just look at those graphics at the top of the article...Wow!
    Last edited by UkHardcore; 09-22-2013 at 15:17.
    Forza 5, Fifa 14, Battlefield 4 & Watchdogs - The Perfect Launch Line Up!

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    When you look at those framerates of the "PS4/Xbox One Target Spec PC Benchmark," you realize the framerate difference is identical to that of the Xbox 360 and PS3. It looks like the power difference really is nothing to fuss about.

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    Yeah I agree that the power advantage is probably being over played. It's certainly there but it remains to be seen how much it will be evident in multiplatform games.

    Hurry up November. Lets put all these Ifs and Buts to an end.

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    "Every one of the Xbox One dev kits actually has 14 CUs on the silicon. Two of those CUs are reserved for redundancy in manufacturing, but we could go and do the experiment - if we were actually at 14 CUs what kind of performance benefit would we get versus 12? And if we raised the GPU clock what sort of performance advantage would we get? And we actually saw on the launch titles - we looked at a lot of titles in a lot of depth - we found that going to 14 CUs wasn't as effective as the 6.6 per cent clock upgrade that we did."

    Assuming level scaling of compute power with the addition of two extra CUs, the maths may not sound right here, but as our recent analysis - not to mention PC benchmarks - reveals, AMD compute units don't scale in a linear fashion. There's a law of diminishing returns.
    Meaning that the PS4 isn't really 40% more powerful, and also meaning that the 6% upclock provides more of a power boost than a 16% increase in CU core count. People really just assumed the math was as simple as 2 + 2, but as this shows, they were just too ignorant to realize nothing is ever that simple when it comes to such things.
    Last edited by Foraeli; 09-22-2013 at 16:23.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Foraeli View Post
    Meaning that the PS4 isn't really 40% more powerful, and also meaning that the 6% upclock provides more of a power boost than a 16% increase in CU core count. People really just assumed the math was as simple as 2 + 2, but as this shows, they were just too ignorant to realize nothing is ever that simple when it comes to such things.
    There are more than just CU counts that differentiate the GPU's in both systems. With the information of Ryse being not quite Full HD and other games not being up to scratch, those differences are coming to to play.

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    Richard leadbetter? Nuff said

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    From what I'm reading, this tacitly confirms that the XBone is severely ROP limited. This is why they didn't activate the additional 2 CU's and instead settled for a 6% upclock. In that article, they said this. Granted, they put it around in such a way where it puts it in a better light (spin) but we can really deduce what the issue is:

    16 ROPS

    Them talking about "Sony agreeing with us" when it came to the 'balance' of 14+4 was kind of funny given that the PS4 has 2x the rops (32) and developers can choose to do whatever they want with all 18 CU's... But GPGPU might be 'balanced' with 4 CU's dedicated to it. But it's not hard capped.

    For the Xbox One, what does come out to? The article says they are handling GPGPU "differently" and say they will go into it later. Point is, that GPGPU allocation will have to come from somewhere.

    10 CU + 2 CU 'balance'?

    http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=683665

    ^ some good insights here.

    And here:

    http://forum.beyond3d.com/showthread...62867&page=256
    Last edited by Vulgotha; 09-22-2013 at 18:20.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Foraeli View Post
    Meaning that the PS4 isn't really 40% more powerful, and also meaning that the 6% upclock provides more of a power boost than a 16% increase in CU core count. People really just assumed the math was as simple as 2 + 2, but as this shows, they were just too ignorant to realize nothing is ever that simple when it comes to such things.
    Quote Originally Posted by Vulgotha View Post
    From what I'm reading, this tacitly confirms that the XBone is severely ROP limited. This is why they didn't activate the additional 2 CU's and instead settled for a 6% upclock. In that article, they said this. Granted, they put it around in such a way where it puts it in a better light (spin) but we can really deduce what the issue is:

    16 ROPS

    Them talking about "Sony agreeing with us" when it came to the 'balance' of 14+4 was kind of funny given that the PS4 has 2x the rops (32) and developers can choose to do whatever they want with all 18 CU's... But GPGPU might be 'balanced' with 4 CU's dedicated to it. But it's not hard capped.

    For the Xbox One, what does come out to? The article says they are handling GPGPU "differently" and say they will go into it later. Point is, that GPGPU allocation will have to come from somewhere.

    10 CU + 2 CU 'balance'?

    http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=683665

    ^ some good insights here.

    And here:

    http://forum.beyond3d.com/showthread...62867&page=256
    M$-- is walking around with their heads in the clouds again.
    That's Microsoft Losing Money btw.... M$--.

    It's about BANDWIDTH, which is why SONY has this idea of high bandwidth data synthesizers as the idea for their system designs. Truth be told, if Commodore's old engineers were building new Amiga's, they'd probably look like PS4 with some more custom things, and they'd probably still build the MOUSE logic into the hardware, because, they know mice just work.
    Anyway...

    Clouds and bandwidth. What do you do? You crunch DATA in the clouds. So, on a game like GTAV for example, that open rich world could get more realism by crunching data in the cloud based on whatever, either other players or AI, and stream it back to your HDD. But, you have issues with the Cloud, and optimistically, those issues are with YOUR ISP LINK.
    If you have FIOS with 8 or 16 or 20MB up, that's pretty good, if your on Cable (raises hand) you have maybe 4mb up. So, your downlink is good for data dumps but your up will vary alot.
    In Europe, cloud processing sucks wind, it's all hodgepodge.
    Sadly, the most important thing is the data you get back. So, the slower that is the less effective Cloud processing is for a player and it can be more even a source of consternation.

    As to their Video overclock... I'd like to know what process they are using. If it's .28 like the rumors, lord, they'll never unlock those 2 CU's, or their defect rate will go up/yield rate down.
    IF SONY is having the wondrous high yield rate on chips then they are safe, but, probably won't ever unlock their 2 either (PS4 has 20 CU's, 2 disabled, sorry xbox fans, your not the only ones who make processors that way... Nvidia and ATi test all their really expensive chips for 100% working CU's to sell on those expensive boards and bin the ones with defects to sell as lower end chips).
    So, yeah, MS 6.6% OC was more effective than throwing away chips that don't have all CU's working, no surprise there!

    My mind boggles that even the allmighty RYSE isn't at 1080p now. That's sad. I sent Vulgotha a couple of prize summaries most of you won't want to read but, it goes like this:

    BANDWIDTH, BANDWIDTH, BANDWIDTH, BANDWIDTH, BANDWIDTH!!!!
    Developers like Bandwidth like Mongo likes Candy! Okay?

    XBO : "Oh, we have 32MB OF ESRAM, *Does Most Muscular Pose with flabby lady pecs like they are on the Mr Olympia stage*.... sorry mates, but... You have to POPULATE that ESRAM first... it still comes from 68mb/s main memory.. once it's there, it's 102mb/s or so of a SMALL scratchpad... probably going to be used as a buffer, and for calculating some effects, but, anywhere I have HEAVY TERRAIN TURNOVER... I start pulling from system memory for more operations and the ESRAM just is a last second stop to draw from memory... it becomes a load operation on the way to the processor... 32MB ESRAM isn't alot of ram for several full size fractional textures and other things. So, they will use more compressed textures.. they'll be efficiently compressed, but, compression is often noticed anyway.
    The richer an environment is with more high resolution textures needed to be painted on screen, the more the ESRAM can choke the system instead of help it. Smart programming can help, but, it's one area the PS4 just rams through. I'm looking at Forza's roadsides versus Drive Club and thinking juuuust that. But RYSE seems inexcusable. Sounds like the Raster OPS are coming into play there, quite sadly, that shouldn't have been an issue.
    Last edited by John Willaford; 09-22-2013 at 19:06.

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    Always love your posts John.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Vulgotha View Post
    Always love your posts John.
    Me too. Very informative. And explained in a way that even I can understand.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Willaford View Post
    M$-- is walking around with their heads in the clouds again.
    That's Microsoft Losing Money btw.... M$--.
    Sums you up!
    Forza 5, Fifa 14, Battlefield 4 & Watchdogs - The Perfect Launch Line Up!

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    From Gaf

    Gubbi over at B3D on the question whether the 16 Rops are an issue - iirc he is a developer - correct me if I'm wrong.

    Doubtful. The ROPs can handle 4x16bit pixel formats at full tilt. The ESRAM matches this perfectly with 109GB/s bandwidth. On XB1 writes from the ROPs to the ESRAM are basically free (ie. will almost never stall).

    The only obvious place where more ROPs could be useful is in shadow buffer creation. However, if shadow buffer rendering shifts to PRT based techniques, already demoed by MS, the burden is likely to shift somewhat away from the ROPs.

    http://beyond3d.com/showpost.php?p=1...postcount=6424
    Last edited by X2; 09-23-2013 at 03:18.
    "We don't provide the 'easy to program for' console that (developers) want, because 'easy to program for' means that anybody will be able to take advantage of pretty much what the hardware can do, so then the question is, what do you do for the rest of the nine-and-a-half years?"
    --Kaz Hirai, CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment

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    Quote Originally Posted by X2 View Post
    Gubbi over at B3D on the question whether the 16 Rops are an issue - iirc he is a developer - correct me if I'm wrong.
    did you copy that whole post word for word from gaf

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    "Imagine you've rendered to a depth buffer there in ESRAM. And now you're switching to another depth buffer. You may want to go and pull what is now a texture into DDR so that you can texture out of it later, and you're not doing tons of reads from that texture so it actually makes more sense for it to be in DDR. You can use the Move Engines to move these things asynchronously in concert with the GPU so the GPU isn't spending any time on the move. You've got the DMA engine doing it. Now the GPU can go on and immediately work on the next render target rather than simply move bits around."
    Zero stall. Told ya.

    Balance is so important in terms of your actual efficient design. Their additional four CUs are very beneficial for their additional GPGPU work.
    Told ya that too.
    Last edited by mynd; 09-23-2013 at 02:00.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Willaford View Post
    ..snip..
    I spent a long time trying to decipher you post, and came up with mostly stuff about Cu's that they were never intending to unlock. So Im not going to bother discussing the cloud and extra cu's. It's irrelevant.
    XBO : "Oh, we have 32MB OF ESRAM, *Does Most Muscular Pose with flabby lady pecs like they are on the Mr Olympia stage*.... sorry mates, but... You have to POPULATE that ESRAM first... it still comes from 68mb/s main memory..
    <sighs> YOu dont need to populate anything that's what the GPU will do.
    once it's there, it's 102mb/s or so of a SMALL scratchpad... probably going to be used as a buffer, and for calculating some effects,
    No, its used as a render target and for any intensive access textures (shadow maps for example)
    but, anywhere I have HEAVY TERRAIN TURNOVER... I start pulling from system memory for more operations and the ESRAM just is a last second stop to draw from memory... it becomes a load operation on the way to the processor...
    Bull$#@!. Even if you were stupid enough to use it as a scratch pad, they outlined how you can move stuff out of there with out interfering with the GPU via the move engines.
    32MB ESRAM isn't alot of ram for several full size fractional textures and other things.
    Its not supposed to be.
    So, they will use more compressed textures.. they'll be efficiently compressed, but, compression is often noticed anyway.
    Rubbish.
    The richer an environment is with more high resolution textures needed to be painted on screen, the more the ESRAM can choke the system instead of help it.
    What?
    Smart programming can help, but, it's one area the PS4 just rams through. I'm looking at Forza's roadsides versus Drive Club and thinking juuuust that. But RYSE seems inexcusable. Sounds like the Raster OPS are coming into play there, quite sadly, that shouldn't have been an issue.
    I don't know what the story is with Ryse, but I'll wait to see what they are doing and how they are assembling their frames.
    Last edited by mynd; 09-23-2013 at 02:56.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vulgotha View Post
    From what I'm reading, this tacitly confirms that the XBone is severely ROP limited. This is why they didn't activate the additional 2 CU's and instead settled for a 6% upclock. In that article, they said this. Granted, they put it around in such a way where it puts it in a better light (spin) but we can really deduce what the issue is:
    Again ROPS are irrelevant if you cant feed them. If they are hitting their peak with 14cu/16 rops.
    That would leave the PS4 wasting the majority of it's rops due to inability to supply them with data.
    Again, those rops are their for compute. Not for graphics (although admittedly they will not be the source of any bottle necks, you could still add probably 24 CU's to the GPU of the PS4 and still not hit the ROP limitations. Looking into what we've been told about the HDR compression on the framebuffers, if you go HDR, you may well find the PS4 may even struggle in out put.
    16 ROPS

    Them talking about "Sony agreeing with us" when it came to the 'balance' of 14+4 was kind of funny given that the PS4 has 2x the rops (32) and developers can choose to do whatever they want with all 18 CU's... But GPGPU might be 'balanced' with 4 CU's dedicated to it. But it's not hard capped.

    For the Xbox One, what does come out to? The article says they are handling GPGPU "differently" and say they will go into it later. Point is, that GPGPU allocation will have to come from somewhere.

    10 CU + 2 CU 'balance'?

    http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=683665

    ^ some good insights here.

    And here:

    http://forum.beyond3d.com/showthread...62867&page=256
    Still reading them, haven't found anything remotely interesting yet.

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    If the power difference isn't as big as it's being made out to be and the PS4 is only stronger on paper while the Xbox One uses lower specs in a more efficient way to achieve the same thing I have to ask, is that really that bad?

    I mean, yes, it can be [bad] for "multi-platform" owners who like to compare and decide which version to get (I still think people get the game on the system they prefer -- everyone has a preference!) because if both versions are the same it doesn't really matter which version you get and it just comes down to features (which is a preference thing.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by sainraja View Post
    If the power difference isn't as big as it's being made out to be and the PS4 is only stronger on paper while the Xbox One uses lower specs in a more efficient way to achieve the same thing I have to ask, is that really that bad?
    Not bad, but i wouldn't say there were even by any stretch. I'd say 95% of the time the PS4 is still going to be 15-20% better.
    I mean, yes, it can be [bad] for "multi-platform" owners who like to compare and decide which version to get (I still think people get the game on the system they prefer -- everyone has a preference!) because if both versions are the same it doesn't really matter which version you get and it just comes down to features (which is a preference thing.)
    It's not going to be 50%, but I'd still say the PS4 has an edge.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mynd View Post
    Not bad, but i wouldn't say there were even by any stretch. I'd say 95% of the time the PS4 is still going to be 15-20% better.

    It's not going to be 50%, but I'd still say the PS4 has an edge.
    Then it just comes down to content and features on both consoles. There might be less reasons this coming generation to own both consoles (other than exclusives -- I mean, it may just come down to exclusives for one to decide to own both.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by sainraja View Post
    Then it just comes down to content and features on both consoles. There might be less reasons this coming generation to own both consoles (other than exclusives -- I mean, it may just come down to exclusives for one to decide to own both.)
    So you dont think 20% is MASSIVE??

    Thats 1/5th of the power of the next gen Xbox One added on!
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    Quote Originally Posted by roy8846 View Post
    So you dont think 20% is MASSIVE??

    Thats 1/5th of the power of the next gen Xbox One added on!
    Its about the power difference between the 360 and PS3 gpu.


    And even that's going to be in some situations, not every situation.
    Last edited by mynd; 09-23-2013 at 09:59.

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    I wanted to come back to this thread and ask:
    Is the gospel of efficiency dead yet?

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