Xbox One VS PlayStation 4: Game Developers Say It's A Draw

Patrick Frye

Xbox One vs PlayStation 4 is on the minds of many gamers as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One release date draws near.

As previously reported The Inquisitr, some of the writers here believe round one in the Xbox One vs PlayStation 4 matchup resulted in a fatality, with the PS4 knocking the Xbone into the pit.

A comparison on the basis of gaming bundles is interesting. The Xbox One $100 price difference over the PlayStation 4 is significant. The addition of the Kinect 2.0 seems to be the only major significant cost that Microsoft can cite, but to put this in perspective the PlayStation 4 Camera bundle also is priced exactly the same as the Xbox One. They both come with a camera system, one controller, and a game. Although, it can be argued the PS4's Killzone bundle is better than having Fifa soccer if you're not a sports gaming fan.

But a Xbox One, PlayStation 4 hardware comparison is not so simple. While many of the components are the same and the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One System On a Chip are both designed by AMD, otherwise there are marked differences in design. Just in raw specifications the PlayStation 4 Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) should be markedly faster, with one anonymous game developer claiming the PlayStation 4 is 50 percent faster than the Xbox One. But other earlier tests claimed closer to a 20 to 24 percent advantage for the PlayStation 4.

But that tends to oversimplify the Xbox One vs PlayStation 4 battle. Because of its high speed embedded cache and storage, the Xbox One hardware design has an edge when it comes to low latency, which can affect graphics rendering although the CPU is affected the most. For example, on the PC side the popular game Skyrim is CPU bottlenecked even if you increase the GPU's load by manually editing settings files to increase the graphics effects way beyond the maximum settings made available by Bethseda. Consoles tend to not have as much CPU overhead compared to PCs due to games being coded for their static hardware, but it's still a factor.

On the other hand, the PlayStation 4 hardware has a definite edge when it comes to the overall potential shader operations it can perform as well as overall internal bandwidth, which is very important when it comes to shadow mapping techniques and most other shader operations. Earlier reports said the PlayStation 4 supported AMD hUMA, which would have partially taken away part of the Xbox One's advantage in the area of memory latency, but that turns out to be a big "maybe" and even then both consoles would likely share the AMD feature.

In the end, legendary game developer John Carmack seems to think the Xbox One vs PlayStation 4 is too close to call. When talking about the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, John Carmack said they are both "very close" and "very good." John Carmack is the id Software technical director responsible for Doom and Quake. Many other games use the game engines and graphics effects he had a hand in inventing. So when John Carmack says he feels the two gaming consoles bring essentially the same capabilities to developers, it's probably wise to believe him.

Still, the hardware difference between the two consoles is nothing to sneeze at. The performance gap between the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One GPUs can be likened to two Wii U consoles. But that doesn't mean game developers will face the same situation as seen with the Xbox 360/PS3 and original Wii, where many games couldn't be practically ported to the Wii due to hardware differences. To summarize, both system's games will be about the same but there will be a difference in precision.

At the most, while the PlayStation 4 has the capability to have better graphics than Xbox One games, it's likely to be in the form of higher resolution shadow maps and low end settings of AMD's High Definition Ambient Occlusion (HDAO), or perhaps SSAO. Except for games exclusive to the PlayStation 4, game developers are unlikely to spend too much time creating effects and art assets only for the PS4 port of a game. But even the mighty PlayStation 4 GPU would be brought to its knees by high level HDAO and graphics effects like interactive indirect illumination brought to the table with voxel cone tracing.

As a comparison, the Unreal 4 Engine Samaritan tech demo needed 2.5 TeraFLOPS, which is about the equivalent of a Nvidia GTX 680, while both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are "only" capable of 1.25 and 1.84 TeraFLOPS, respectively.

Who do you think wins the Xbox One vs PlayStation 4 matchup?