Lie Of The Year: Xbox One GPU Just As Fast As The PS4 Hardware?

The lie of the year, at least in regards to gaming, probably has to be Microsoft claiming the Xbox One vs PS4 hardware battle isn’t that lopsided.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the actual lie of the year is related to President Obama and Obamacare… But that’s just boring!

Microsoft has been playing damage control ever since the announcement of the Xbox One. While, since I tend to be more of a PC gamer, I actually liked the idea of implementing a Steam-like digital distribution system most console gamers were anything but pleased with the idea of DRM. Then after the launch the PS4 vs Xbox One battle got really heated with the sales numbers and at first all Microsoft could do was combat the numbers with their zombies. But then the Xbox One sales numbers did come out and they suggested Microsoft might actually pull ahead by the end of the year.

Regardless, Microsoft’s marketing machine could said to be behind the biggest gaming lie of the year. It’s just undeniable that the PS4 is faster and in the long term this will affect the visual quality of games. I’ve gotten into more detail in my past articles, but in the end the Xbox One GPU is capable of 1.33 TeraFLOPS and the PS4 GPU boasts 1.84 TeraFLOPS. The Xbox One’s GDDR3 memory provides 68.3 GB/s of memory bandwidth but the embedded high speed memory offers 102 GB/s of low latency bandwidth, while the PS4 once again wins with 176 GB/s of GDDR5 memory. Graphics rendering tends to be rarely limited by the CPU (I’m looking at you Skyrim…) so comparing those two is negligible.

To put this performance gap in perspective, we can literally measure the difference by the Wii U GPUs, which only does 0.352 TeraFLOPS. That means the performance difference is almost 1.5 Wii U’s between the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 hardware.

Interestingly enough, a Xbox One and PS4 breakdown reveals Microsoft’s console is the more expensive of the two to manufacture. This was partially due to the higher cost of the embedded memory, but GDD3 is cheaper so it was mostly the Kinect 2.0 that made it more expensive. This means Microsoft has bet the farm on positioning the Xbox One as the non-gaming entertainment hub. And Microsoft has already announced Windows threshold will be unifying more Windows 8 features into the Xbox One (yes, it already does run Win8).

I’m sure the fanboys are screaming about calling Microsoft’s Xbox One marketing the lie of the year so I will qualify this answer with some caveats. In general, the Xbox One should be capable of doing many games at 1080p 60 FPS and there won’t be a noticeable difference. While some games might run at 720p and 900p to put this into perspective you have to consider the size of your HDTV in relation to your normal viewing distance:

optimal-viewing-distance-television-graph-size

Even 20/20 vision cannot resolve sharpness above 229 pixels per inch according to scientists. That’s why the 1080 HD resolution is overkill for smartphones. So while 720p vs 1080p can be quite noticeable, upscaled 900p vs 1080p is a little difficult to tell apart:

1080p-900p-resolution-comparison-two

Otherwise, the only major differences will be in the resolution of certain graphics effects, which tend to be highly scalable to the hardware. The Xbox One will likely use less hardware intensive global illumination methods, lower resolution shadow mapping, FXAA vs other anti-aliasing methods, lower settings for High Definition Ambient Occlusion (HDAO), and certain shaders will be tweaked based upon the performance differences. In general, except for PlayStation 4 exclusive game titles, I expect most game studios to produce pretty much the same art assets for both platforms.

But, to be quite blunt, even the so-called mighty PS4 isn’t fast enough to handle the latest graphics effects like voxel cone tracing. And there’s even some effects that even the latest PC video cards like the AMD Radeon R9 290X can’t handle… and it does 5 teraFLOPS! For example, the Unreal 4 Engine Samaritan tech demo needed 2.5 TeraFLOPS: