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News Microsoft boosts Xbox One with new ESRAM API

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Gareth Halfacree, 30 Dec 2014.

  1. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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  2. damien c

    damien c Mad FPS Gamer

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    Whilst this is good to see, I still get annoyed by the install sizes on games that look like they should have been released over 3 years ago and are barely any bigger in terms of playability.

    I still think there will be new consoles released in just over 2 years because the current ones are far to low spec'd to last any longer than that.
     
  3. edzieba

    edzieba Virtual Realist

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    Growing install sizes reflect growing storage capacity (no longer being hobbled by DVD), and taking advantage of that space to offer more unique textures, rather than replicating the same textures over and over and over. That, and using spare space to put all audio tracks on one disc and cut down on unique replications for multiple markets.
    Procedural texture generation can cut down on some of that, but with the rise of PBR (Physically Based Rendering) there's a limit to what can be generated procedurally and actually not look crap.
     
  4. Cei

    Cei pew pew pew

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    I'll believe it when I see it. The fact that the ESRAM is only 32MB is a limiting factor that can't be overcome.
     
  5. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    Not too sure about that claim, there, chap. Let's take the original Xbox: it launched in 2001 with a modified Pentium III running at 733MHz, 64MB of RAM and a 233MHz Nvidia GPU. The adverts in a November 2001 issue of Computer Shopper tell us that 1.2GHz-1.7GHz CPUs, 256MB-512MB of RAM and 64MB dedicated GPUs were the norm in new computers at the time. So, when the Xbox launched in 2001 a gaming PC was around twice to three times as fast, had more dedicated VRAM than the entire console and at least a further 256MB of general-purpose RAM. The Xbox wasn't discontinued for five to seven years (region-dependent).

    The difference between the Xbox One (or PS4, the two are interchangeable for the purposes of this discussion) and a modern gaming PC is far, far smaller than the difference between the original Xbox and a contemporary gaming PC. The Steam Hardware Survey puts the average client PC at having 8GB of RAM (same as the Xbox One), having two physical cores (a quarter the number of the Xbox One), having 1GB of VRAM (more than the Xbox One, if we're assuming it's dedicated) and running at Full HD resolutions (which the Xbox One struggled with, but appears to be managing as developers get used to it.)

    It's really difficult to do a direct comparison between PC specs and console specs, even when the console (as with the Xbox One and PS4) is based on PC hardware. Developing for consoles allows you to do crazy optimisation which simply isn't possible on a PC. Imagine this scenario: I'm working on a PC game, and I blow a chunk of the development budget and six months making it work really well with one specific GPU. Not a good use of my time: only a small fraction of my market has that GPU, and next year they'll probably have ditched it for a new one so I can't even take those optimisations and use them on my next game. Alternative scenario: I'm developing a game for the Xbox One, and I blow a chunk of the development budget and six months making it work really well with the Jaguar GPU. A great use of my time: every single one of my customers benefits, and because the platform is guaranteed to remain stable until the next console generation all my future games benefit.

    TL;DR: If Microsoft or Sony launch a new mainstream games console within two years (not portable, not an 'Xbox One Slim' or the like, but an actual new console which replaces the old console) I'll buy it and donate it to the local hospital's children's ward.
     
  6. Cei

    Cei pew pew pew

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    I agree Gareth, but there's also the issue of the unified memory on the consoles to further blur the issue. Developers have free reign to use the memory as they see fit, split between CPU and GPU however they fancy. That 1GB of VRAM on the Steam survey is positively anaemic compared to what is on offer by the PS4 and XBone.

    The handicap for the PS4 and XBone is the low frequency of the CPU - they've bet on multi thread and being able to offload tasks to GPGPU, rather than the last generation which headed for high frequency (The 360 was a tri-core 3.2Ghz, PS3 the 3.2Ghz Cell with 7 SPEs). In essence I think they've created slightly imbalanced boxes - equivalent to sticking a GTX 970 on a dual-core i3 - and hence a bit of a bottleneck until developers get fully used to the consoles. It usually takes years before everybody settles down and knows how to write for a system.

    Sony and Microsoft have also invested serious cash in development and marketing for these systems, and they're barely out the gate. They'll be wanting to sell in the region of 80-100m units across the lifespan, minimum, so you can bet your bottom dollar they'll be around for years to come. Sony and Microsoft may have just about started internal development of the next generation (as happened last time), but only at a very low background level.
     
  7. andrew8200m

    andrew8200m Well-Known Member

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    Ram means barely anything in gaming these days. Most games are 32bit and those with 64bit options barely make any difference to game play etc. VRAM is where the limitation in gaming is at the moment.
    8gb of 3000mhz ram and an 4790k with any high end gpu from say an 780 to an 290, is heaps faster. Anything above and beyond is GPU dependant as the rest of the system need not change.
     
  8. Cei

    Cei pew pew pew

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    Yes, but you're talking high end. Again, referring to the Steam hardware survey, the most common amount of VRAM is 1GB, which is smashed by the unified memory in the consoles.

    Interestingly, nearly 30% of people now have 8GB of RAM in their computer. That's a good thing.
     
  9. Glix

    Glix Left Thumb Stick in the mud.

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    Actually... 40% of Steam users have 8gb+ in their computer.

    Hopefully with ram prices falling again more and more will have better gaming experiences.
     
  10. rollo

    rollo Well-Known Member

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    Can't see new consoles till 2019 at earliest
     
  11. Corky42

    Corky42 What did walle eat for breakfast?

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    Can't see new consoles past these ones, at least not in there current form factor.
    What with hardware becoming smaller and more powerful every year i think the next gen consoles will be more akin to a Surface tablet.
     
  12. r3loaded

    r3loaded Well-Known Member

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    The unified memory aspect is actually an even bigger deal than just "more flexible memory for the GPU". It allows for the CPU and the GPU to view the same memory space over a coherent interconnect, completely eliminating the (comparatively) slow memory copy operation over the PCIe bus between system memory and the GPU's memory in a traditional PC system. This allows far more efficient CPU-to-GPU (and vice versa) data transfers as all the GPU has to do once the CPU has done some work is read that data out of the same memory. Minimising this overhead will inevitably allow for more efficient code that gets more done with the same hardware.
     

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