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XBox (Games) Graphics Microsoft Hardware

Microsoft Relaxing Xbox One Kinect Requirements, Giving GPU Power a Boost? 220

Posted by timothy
from the full-speed-ahead-damn-the-torpedos dept.
MojoKid writes "News from gaming insider Pete Doss is that Microsoft is mulling significant changes to the restrictions it places on developers regarding the Xbox One's GPU. Reportedly, some 10% of total GPU horsepower is reserved for the Kinect — 8% for video and 2% for voice processing. Microsoft is apparently planning changes that would free up that 8% video entirely, leaving just 2% of the system's GPU dedicated to voice input. If Microsoft makes this change, it could have a significant uplift on system frame rates — and it's not clear that developers would necessarily need to patch the architecture to take advantage of the difference."
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Microsoft Relaxing Xbox One Kinect Requirements, Giving GPU Power a Boost?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @05:03AM (#46078901)

    Is a 10% boost going to take 720p to 1080p? Or 1080p 30 fps to 60 fps? Not likely. Fact remains that even moderate PCs today outperform both the PS4 and Xbox One at a similar price point. Toying with 8-10% GPU consumption is insignificant in the big picture.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday January 27, 2014 @05:24AM (#46078969) Journal
      " Toying with 8-10% GPU consumption is insignificant in the big picture."

      I suspect that MS (and Sony) have no expectation of pulling a miracle out of their hat, or doing anything about the fact that consoles always become increasingly unimpressive vs. PCs as their release period drags on. However, given that MS is currently facing a modest; but somewhat embarrassing, graphical prettiness gap vs. Sony, they have a certain incentive to free up what they can to ensure that any comparisons are as flattering as hardware choices far too late to change will allow them to be.
    • by Kartu (1490911) on Monday January 27, 2014 @05:31AM (#46078995)

      Fact remains that even moderate PCs today outperform both the PS4 and Xbox One at a similar price point.

      I'm not quite sure about that.
      PS4 has a GPU that is between AMD 7850 / 7870, when building your PC you'd pay 150+ Euro for the GPU alone.

      Despite "common knowledge" that "PCs are faster", at least if we can trust Valve's statistics (about a third of their PC users run games on an integrated GPU!), no it isn't.
      7870 is a good mid range GPU these days even in PC world.
      One could argue about underwhelming CPU part , but 8Gb GDDR5 and software written to use most of it's 8 cores makes up for it.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        My 7850 plays games quit well at 1080p at settings higher than condoles. Are there actually any standardized benchmarks showing that it's real world performance is in between a 7850 and 7870?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @05:50AM (#46079073)

        Bear in mind that prices for AMD GPUs are a little inflated at the moment because of the crypto mining craze.

        All the same, $150 sounds about right for the GPU in a mid-range gaming machine. Machines at that level are often built 'unbalanced' - a weaker CPU mated with a more expensive GPU, on the assumption that most games don't fully utilise the CPU. You only see serious investment on the CPU for higher end gaming machines or workstations.

      • by Firethorn (177587) on Monday January 27, 2014 @06:08AM (#46079123) Homepage Journal

        Despite "common knowledge" that "PCs are faster", at least if we can trust Valve's statistics (about a third of their PC users run games on an integrated GPU!), no it isn't.

        Consider how many laptops are out there... My laptops have both integrated and dedicated GPUs, depending on when Steam's survey comes up they can get quite different results. For that matter I've been playing quite a few 'casual' games that shouldn't stress ANY CPU on my laptop.

        Also, to echo the AC - Source on the 7850/7870 thing? I know that all of my cards from the last 5 years handles 1080P rendering just fine.

      • by exomondo (1725132)

        In many cases (as far as gaming systems are concerned) PCs are more powerful than consoles. The issue is that games cannot fully exploit that power because developers have to code to higher level abstractions to deal with the differences between systems, you can't rely on a specific speed of CPU, GPU, RAM, video RAM, bus, etc... and you can't rely on a specific amount of CPU cache, CPU cores, RAM, video RAM, GPU ALUs, etc... you can't rely on a specific architecture (exact supported instruction set) of CPU

    • Apples vs Apples (Score:5, Informative)

      by tuppe666 (904118) on Monday January 27, 2014 @05:43AM (#46079035)

      Fact remains that even moderate PCs today outperform both the PS4 and Xbox One at a similar price point.

      Not in your or mine wildest dreams

      The PS4 from Wikipedia "The CPU consists of two quad-core Jaguar modules totaling 8 x86-64 cores. The GPU consists of 18 compute units to produce a theoretical peak performance of 1.84 TFLOPS. The system's GDDR5 memory is capable of running at a maximum clock frequency of 2.75 GHz (5500 MT/s) and has a maximum memory bandwidth of 176 GB/s. The console contains 8 GB of GDDR5 memory" for US$399.99, €399.99, £349.99

      vs

      For just the base unit of the PC for the same price http://www.amazon.com/Dell-Ins... [amazon.com] Processor: Intel® Pentium® processor G2030 (3M Cache, 3.0 GHz), Memory (RAM): 4GB DDR3 SDRAM, 1600MHz-1X4GB, Storage (hard drive): 500GB Hard Drive, 3.5", 7200rpm, SATA, Optical Drive: DVD+/-RW Tray Load Drive, 16X, SATA Color: Black

      I am a bit tired of these comments being modded up in the hope of PC gaming making a comeback.

      • Re:Apples vs Apples (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @05:59AM (#46079107)

        Radeon 7770 (~1.3Tflops) roughly matches XBONE @ $109
        Radeon 7859 (~1.8tflops) roughly matches PS4 @ $169 (139 with MIR)

        The 8 core Jaguar is crap. Any dual or quad core CPU will probably run circles around it, including Core2Quads. Take a 5+ year old PC, toss in a new GPU and your done.

        • Re:Apples vs Apples (Score:5, Informative)

          by Sockatume (732728) on Monday January 27, 2014 @08:14AM (#46079623)

          I'll be impressed if you can add 8GB GDDR5 and the rest of a SFF PC for under $330.

          • by Luckyo (1726890)

            There is no point. CPU part isn't memory bandwidth-constrained. PS4 does GDDR5 as a way of unlocking more memory bandwidth for GPU which sits on the same memory bus as CPU.

            DDR3 hooked to a decent GPU is going to be memory bus constrained in some scenarios. This will likely become a problem for XB1. It's fine for CPUs for a long time to come however - I did some testing and I ran DDR3 at 1ghz and 2.1ghz. No visible difference when paired with my massively overclocked i5 2500k which would absolutely crush thi

            • Your GTX 560Ti has 128GB/s worth of memory bandwidth, while the PS4 has 176GB/s. 176GB/s would put it between a GTX 660 and a GTX 670. Sure there is better, but it's still very respectable, and much better than the graphics card in the average PC.

              • by Luckyo (1726890)

                Shared between CPU and PC. Mine is dedicated to the GPU.

                And when it comes to actual GPU rather than just its memory bus, it's just plain subpar.

                • by Luckyo (1726890)

                  Meant to type out CPU and GPU obviously...

          • Don't forget controller, OS, antivirus, etc..

            • by Luckyo (1726890)

              None of these consume significant amount of the most important resource in gaming - GPU. On most systems, GPU will idle at around 1% on desktop use. On mine, openhardwaremonitor actually shows 0% GPU usage - because it's so low, it gets rounded down. On 2D desktop without aero, it may no even initialize GPU for anything other than 2D acceleration.

              Xbox reserves 8% of GPU just for kinect, and another 2% for voice recognition. That's 10% overhead that does not exist on PC. Overhead that hits GPU, the thing tha

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          The 8 core Jaguar is crap. Any dual or quad core CPU will probably run circles around it, including Core2Quads.

          Not really. These days games are heavily threaded. You have a deadline to meet, say 16ms if you want 60fps. Having 8 cores and a modern memory controller that to feed them is going to work much better than having two or four slightly faster cores. And actually for the kinds of processing that games do a Core2 is going to be slower, clock for clock.

          Also keep in mind that consoles will always perform better than an equivalent PC in any well programmed game, since the game can be tailored and optimized specifi

          • by Luckyo (1726890)

            Questionable. Nowadays consoles are no longer dedicated gaming machines - they run heavy operating systems that do a lot of stuff on the background, just like PC operating systems do.

            • by exomondo (1725132)

              But he is right that console developers target a GPU where they know its architecture, instruction set, memory amount, memory bandwidth, number of ALUs, ALU clocks, etc... (in addition to knowing that about all the other elements in the system that the GPU is connected to) and knowing this means you can develop much more efficient software and optimize for that hardware. On the PC side you don't know any of those things and even if you set a baseline for one of them you cant guarantee that it isnt offset by

      • by Mashiki (184564)

        Let's be realistic. The only reason why it gets a boost like that is because of the GDDR5 in the system, you strip that out and it's slower than a PC built 5 years ago. But, your example is rather flawed, being that "buying a name" means you're gutting 20% of your upgrade budget.

        And PC gaming has been killing consoles for the last 5 years, in fact it takes the wii, xbox and PS3 to equal the sales on the PC generally speaking. Not only that but in the last year and half, it's been a case of "the console i

        • PC built five years ago? On what budget?

          That isn't relevant if spent a lot of money then...

          Furthermore, PC gaming hasn't been killing console gaming. What's been killing it has been the flattening of genres. Everything now is some kind of generic 1st or 3rd person shooter. And THAT is thanks to the much lauded PC Gaming Master Race.

          Gross.

          Also I'd like to see some recipts on that figure about sales. VGchartz shows Bioshock infinite sold 5 times as more on ps3 and 360 combined than on Windows. Not just that

          • by hibiki_r (649814)

            There's plenty of weird, inventive games out there... They just happen to be mostly indie, so they are released for the PC Master Race.

            Big developers are the ones sitting on their asses, and that has more to do with the fact that modern graphics are expensive as hell than anything else. Hard to sink 50-200 million on a game that you don't expect to have a very broad appeal

            • by Luckyo (1726890)

              Not really sure if that's the only thing. Games like Warframe, Hawken and MechWarrior online are PC based F2P and they have very good looking graphics. And they certainly do not have those kinds of budgets behind them.

          • by JDG1980 (2438906)

            Furthermore, PC gaming hasn't been killing console gaming. What's been killing it has been the flattening of genres. Everything now is some kind of generic 1st or 3rd person shooter. And THAT is thanks to the much lauded PC Gaming Master Race.

            Agreed. FPS is played out; can we please move on and do something else?

          • VGChartz is obviously very very inaccurate. The list WoW: Burning Crusades at having sold 4 million copies, when blizzard said there was over 18 million active accounts at the time.

            • by Luckyo (1726890)

              It's pretty close to being correct actually. Of those active accounts, many are in China and Taiwan which don't sell boxed copies, but play hours. It was assessed that only around 4-5 million accounts total out of 13 million or so when WoW peaked around Wrath of the Lich King were in areas where business model included selling boxed copy of expansion + monthly.

          • by Mashiki (184564)

            PC built five years ago? On what budget?

            Roughly? About $700. So yeah, consoles haven't gone up and anywhere.

            Also, VGchartz is uselss. It doesn't count digital sales, only retail sales.

      • by Wootery (1087023)

        I was with you up until

        in the hope of PC gaming making a comeback

        As far as I can tell, PC gaming is doing just fine.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        It's somewhat irrelevant what is faster or not. PC gamers will never use consoles, console gamers will never use PCs.

    • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Monday January 27, 2014 @06:53AM (#46079285) Homepage

      Or 1080p 30 fps to 60 fps?

      What really annoys me about this one is that plenty of games could happily run at 60fps for 80-90% of the time, but the developers don't want you thinking their game is slowing the system down when the action starts. So they just cap it to 30fps all the time for consistently crappy gameplay. I'd sooner do without a few effects.

      Bioshock on the PS3 springs to mind, only because they included an option to turn off the framerate cap.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Gabest (852807)
      The funny part is, even after 8 years the release of xbox 360, we still can't run all our games in 1080p.
    • This isn't exactly on topic, but the reason I have a console is to play games that everyone is on equal footing. With PCs your generally pay for better performance, its ALOT more easier to cheat, and you have a bigger chance of running into problems due to incompatability. The only advantage you could really have on console is a better internet connection but lately that seems to be more of a handicap. Now choosing between the major consoles, I can't really consider nintendo based on the library of games t
    • by SQLGuru (980662)

      While I agree that a PC that costs the same as a console is generally more performant, one of the benefits of the console world is that the upgrade cycle (in other words frequency of cash outlay) is a lot longer. In PC gaming, you are likely spending on average $500/year to keep up. In the console world, you spend once every 6 years or so. For those of us on a tighter budget, knowing that if I buy a console near the beginning of the cycle, I will still be getting similar performance near the end of the c

      • by tepples (727027)
        To play all three consoles' exclusives, you have to spend three times that much every 2 years.
      • In PC gaming, you are likely spending on average $500/year to keep up.

        What the hell are you doing to your kit? If you blow $500 on a video card, you're doing pretty good for probably half a decade. Hell, you can get 3 years out of a sub-$200 last-gen card.

        Yeah, PC gaming does have it's disadvantages vs consoles - some of the most onerous DRM in the industry, for starters (even everyone's darling Steam is worse than anything on a disc-based console game), but that claim was just bull. "PC Gaming" is not, and never has been, synonymous with "bleeding edge."

    • Consoles do outperform PCs in one respect: number of players that can play at once. Because most PCs are stuck at a desk (as opposed to using the living room TV as a monitor), most PC games aren't written to take advantage of multiple USB gamepads. So if you have only one PC in a household, all the players need to take turns, and if you have the luxury of multiple PCs, you need to buy multiple copies of each game. True, not all multiplayer games for consoles include same-screen multiplayer, but I'm pretty s
  • by whois (27479) on Monday January 27, 2014 @05:31AM (#46078997) Homepage

    I wish they would devote 8-10% of their resources to making their voice recognizer worth a damn. It was hilariously bad on xbox 360 and then I watched some xbox one launch parties and saw what a travesty it still was.

    • It makes you wonder how much it would have cost MS to purchase some sort of specialty 'embedded/fixed function' license to, say, Dragon...

      A full copy, without academic pricing or anything, (and get your checkbook ready if you need the supplements for a specific jargon set like law or medicine...) is pretty pricey; but you'd think that they'd be willing to license the same core for substantially less so long as they were assured that it would be useful only for providing voice commands to games and such,
      • There have been games that used "embedded Dragon", the PS2's SOCOM series for example, 12 years ago.

  • by Viol8 (599362) on Monday January 27, 2014 @07:05AM (#46079321)

    From what I've seen the improvement in graphics from my PS3 to the PS4 or XB1 just isn't enough to justify spending the money on a new console. I think like a lot of people I'll be skipping this generation and seeing what comes around in the next 5-10 years.

    • by Sandman1971 (516283) on Monday January 27, 2014 @07:51AM (#46079487) Homepage Journal

      We're talking first gen /release day games here. Take PS3/Xbox 360 release day games and compare them to late PS2/Xbox games. It was exactly the same thing. Heck, just compare first year 360/PS2 games and compare them to new releases for those platforms. They are worlds apart. It takes developers a while to ramp up and get to know the architecture that they are writing for.

        Also, waiting for the next gen console before upgrading is fine and dandy if you don't plan on playing any new console releases. Give it a couple of years and most major developers will no longer be releasing most of their titles for the previous consoles.

      Considering the record sales of the new consoles, I don't think your assumption that a lot of people are going to be skipping this generation is anywhere near the truth. You still can't find Xbox Ones and PS4s on store shelves or online stock, they're selling faster than either company can produce them. There might be a very small pocket of gamers who will, but so far all indications is that most will be upgrading at some point.

      • by Viol8 (599362)

        "We're talking first gen /release day games here."

        Irrelevant. Even on the first day the PS3 graphics blew the PS2 out of the water and then shot it up some more. Considering the PS4 is effectively just a PC with standard components there's no reason for it not to have blistering graphics on day 1 since game devs should already have been familiar with the hardware when preview hardware was made available (which was not the case with the PS3 and Xbox 360) and PC games libs should essentially Just Work when po

        • by Sockatume (732728)

          People have short memories: the big talking point when the 360 launched was that all the games looked like Xbox titles running in HD, or else they looked like a modest PC.

          I mean, Kameo? Perfect Dark Zero? A passable port of Oblivion? These were not the games people lined up for.

        • by bondsbw (888959)

          I don't know about you, but I can tell a vast difference between the quality of games that came out earlier vs. later, particularly in the same series (e.g. Halo 3 vs. Halo Reach vs. Halo 4).

    • [...] I think like a lot of people I'll be skipping this generation and seeing what comes around in the next 5-10 years.

      I would expect that 5-10 years from now we'll have mirroring of our phones onto the TV screen and optional bluetooth gamepads.

    • I was kinda hoping that we'd left behind the desperate need for games to be propped up on their graphics. Can we not hope that actual good games will be released? Of course, we don't need new consoles for that either. I'm tempted to get the PS4, but I'm definitely going to wait until there's a sufficient library of games, and perhaps a version 2.0 with any niggles or bugs ironed out.

      My PC is a higher spec than either console already, so I'm mostly hoping that developers just release games on more platforms,

    • I have the money to buy an xbox one without giving it second thought.
      But I just don't see a reason yet. No killer games on the xbox one. Little improvement in gameplay/graphics.
      The only console I see right now with killer games (Mario 3D) is the wii u.

  • The idea that a game would drop below 60 FPS on hardware that developers know about ahead of time makes my head want to explode. Yet, I saw a game stutter to about 10 FPS on the new Xbox One at my friend's house. Like I need one more reason to reinforce the fact that PC gaming is the superior type of gaming.
    • by DrXym (126579)
      So you've never seen a PC struggle to output a high frame rate before? Of course a PC platform has the advantage that you can throw $1000 of new hardware at a game to make it perform better, but perhaps then we're not comparing like with like.
      • by Osgeld (1900440)

        I have never seen a pc game that was custom made and optimized for my exact hardware, console games on the other hand...

        • by DrXym (126579)
          And that probably accounts for the fact that a $400 console produces an experience that a PC costing considerably more would struggle to match. It doesn't necessarily the game in question is any good or that optimized means framerate is the only consideration when producing the game, e.g. the producers might accept the odd frame rate dip to keep the resolution, draw distance or some other visual effect in place.
  • The PS3 launched with pretty stringent restrictions on the amount of CPU and memory games could use and loosened up over time. Sony wasn't sure what they'd need for future features / firmware updates and so chose to play it safe. As the firmware matured and was optimized, they were able to release some of that surplus power to games to make use of.

    I don't see Microsoft doing much different. Maybe they reserved the CPU/GPU for similar reasons and now they've figured they don't need to any more, or can wake

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