News Article

Microsoft Less Than Pleased With Claims Of PS4's Technical Superiority Over Xbox One

Posted by Damien McFerran

No surprise there, then

As far as tech-heads are concerned, it's a done deal — Sony has won the war with Microsoft over who has the more powerful next-gen system. However, as is often the case with specifications, it's sometimes misleading to assume that pure numbers are going to result in better performance, and Microsoft executive Albert Penello feels that current claims are based on "mis-information".

Speaking on NeoGAF, Penello — who is Director of Product Planning at Microsoft — said:

I do want to be super clear: I'm not disparaging Sony. I'm not trying to diminish them, or their launch or what they have said. But I do need to draw comparisons since I am trying to explain that the way people are calculating the differences between the two machines isn't completely accurate. I think I've been upfront I have nothing but respect for those guys, but I'm not a fan of the mis-information about our performance.

So, here are couple of points about some of the individual parts for people to consider:

  • 18 CU's vs. 12 CU's =/= 50% more performance. Multi-core processors have inherent inefficiency with more CU's, so it's simply incorrect to say 50% more GPU.
  • Adding to that, each of our CU's is running 6% faster. It's not simply a 6% clock speed increase overall.
  • We have more memory bandwidth. 176gb/sec is peak on paper for GDDR5. Our peak on paper is 272gb/sec. (68gb/sec DDR3 + 204gb/sec on ESRAM). ESRAM can do read/write cycles simultaneously so I see this number mis-quoted.
  • We have at least 10% more CPU. Not only a faster processor, but a better audio chip also offloading CPU cycles.
  • We understand GPGPU and its importance very well. Microsoft invented Direct Compute, and have been using GPGPU in a shipping product since 2010 - it's called Kinect.
  • Speaking of GPGPU - we have 3X the coherent bandwidth for GPGPU at 30gb/sec which significantly improves our ability for the CPU to efficiently read data generated by the GPU.

Hopefully with some of those more specific points people will understand where we have reduced bottlenecks in the system. I'm sure this will get debated endlessly but at least you can see I'm backing up my points.

Now it's understandable that a Microsoft employee would want to defend a Microsoft product, but do you think Penello has a point? Has the press and public been guilty of just looking at the specs and picking a winner? It's not always that simple, as the battle between the PS Vita and technically-inferior Nintendo 3DS has proven.

Drop a comment below and tell us what you think about Penello's comments, and the technical contest between these two next-gen systems.


User Comments (37)



Sanquine said:

He sounds desperate...We all know we get a better console for a 100 dollar less



GraveLordXD said:

How bout instead of worrying about the specks down to the tee because it won't make much of a difference anyway why don't you worry about making a console that doesn't overheat and sound like a damn lawnmower when I turn it on



Scollurio said:

seriously, Sony had to play catch up the last gen as MS had an advantage at least in the early years, while MS SLEPT over their success Sony had to and DID innovate and rethink their approach to their console, the result is the fabulous thing that is PS4, MS just dropped the ball and now they are whining!

Its a bit like Wii vs XBOX 360 last gen, where they also said "but but the games and numbers is not everything" blub. Yeah nice try.



GraveLordXD said:

Yeah I rather spend just a little bit more for the ps4 and vita or even less for a ps4 and vita TV
Xbone doesn't exist to me what a joke they have become



Scollurio said:

Hardware specs is just one slice of the cake really, I don't like the approach and attitude MS is taking. I've been supporting the big MS last gen with 4 (!!) xbox 360s (yep red ring of death) and over the years the quality of their exclusives and general service dwindled, then the fiasco with their xbox one policies and basicly nothing that would sell me to their console, even though Im not remotely interested in their TV thingies they offer, they wouldn't work here in austria anyways...



Scollurio said:

SEVEN? Holy crap they should give you a medal for that, or an XBOX one for free... well, that means if you'd WANT it! lol



GraveLordXD said:

@Sanquine yeah dude I'm around that number, I actually stopped counting at some point my brother probably went through 3 or 4 of them also



Paranoimia said:

Another U-turn. Just a few weeks ago they were saying specs don't matter.

And a couple of days ago Major Nelson was saying that he finds the term 'XBone' insulting.

I love this. I love knowing that Microsoft are unhappy. While I have owned both of their systems so far, I have a strong dislike of the company. Nothing to do with console wars, but because of their tactics and behaviour historically. Just love to see them fail; they've earned it.



NathanUC said:

He's not wrong, but he's not right. He focuses a lot on insignificant figures. The DDR+ESRAM configuration of the Xbox One might have slightly better bandwidth, but it's much less usable and takes a lot more work to develop for. Simply having access to JUST DDR5 ram is a much MUCH easier way to use efficiently.

He's correct about multicore, but he's also wrong. Having mutlicores running slower doesn't mean it's a lesser chip. It just means things must be developed differently.

TL;DR: On paper they are similar, but in reference to absolute game design, you'll get much more out of the PS4 much quicker. This doesn't even take into consideration OS requirements (which I'd imagine Xbox One's '3' OS build would demand a lot more of the CPU/memory than PS4).



Scollurio said:

There is a WINDOWS-core running on xbox one's OS, thats all I need to know to avoid it like the pestilence no matter what... by going apple long time ago and now having nintendo (handheld) and sony (PS3, soon PS4, vita) systems I successfully banned the abomination that is windows from my household, no way Im ever going back to that crapload of code called an OS...

Thank you MS you made my life happier by NOT being part of it.



Jaz007 said:

Didn't they up the power of their system recently? That showed that they were a bit worried about the power advantage at the start. I think they've also admitted that the PS4 has more raw power. How much of a difference will it make? Who knows, could be quite the difference with first party, or it could be intellible. And to be honest, this sounds really defensive, almost like he was backed into a corner. I would like some real unbiased tech gurus to look at all of this though and tell us what they see. I'm personally betting on a PS4 advantage that's at least a bit notable. (I'm not going to pretend I'm computer genius though, so I could be wrong, but this is what I gather.) The fact that it's so easy to develop for will probably gives the PS4 an indie advantage though.



Scollurio said:

If you look at the numbers of the graphics chip, the numbers of shaders specifically the PS4 has a huge advantage. Like many already pointed out I don't think there will be MUCH visual difference in the first wave of games, but I guess into the second or third year of both consoles PS4 will pull ahead, you know look at the games we now have on current gen, they look stunning compared to their first wave counterparts, but it took years to find that little small resources left in the hardware to tickle out through clever programming.

Now both systems are on the x86 platform so devs can use most of their tricks they already know about from developing internally or on PC, so "code optimization" will be reached quicker I figure, but then there is the "not so small" ressources gap to tickle out and take advantage of, ressources that are far more abundant on PS4!

Will it matter to the average consumer? No.
Will the MS 180 matter to the average consumer? No.
Don't forget, we informed passionate gamers are the minority, I'd bet that about 80% of all people buying a console are either uninformed and just go by brand recognition, what their friends have or get their gear by their parents who have even less clue. So MS will still sell plenty of xbox one's but it won't be anywhere near the success of the 360!



ferrers405 said:

Seriously? Specs just matter to a few people of the overall market, the majority just want to know how the companies will use this machine and it's capacity to provide new and improved games, if Microsoft succeed in this situation over Playstation (wich i think will not happen), they can win, we will see.



Ginkgo said:

It is just twaddle. A good example is the memory bandwidth point, and his careful use of the word "peak".

The ESRAM quoted at 204gb/sec is only 32MB! Compared to the 8GB of DDR3 that is running at 68gb/sec, compared to PS4's 8GB at 176gb, 3 x faster than the DDR3.

the ESRAM is effectively a cache, where small bits of information can be read very quickly, but that means that developers have to code for it specifically, copying bits of information in and out the whole time. It is a cheap solution to improve the slower performing memory. It will not compete with the 8GB of DDR5, where they don't need to copy chunks of small data backward and forwards endlessly.

What it interesting is that it is not Sony who is saying the the PS4 is up to 50% faster, but the developers.



MadchesterManc said:

@Ginkgo Microsofts claims of superior memory bandwith are hilarious. It shows how desperate they are to try and have superiority somewhere instead of just accepting the fact that the Ps4 is the better games machine for developers. The 32MB of ESRAM won't help as much as they think it will either. It cant even be used as a frame buffer for free AA as a 1080p with even 2xAA needs double the memory than the 32MB the XB1 has.

Microsoft has been caught with thier pants down with regards to specs and thier desperate whining is amusing. I must admit it is starting to grate though, I hope they just accept they have an inferior machine n move on.



8vpiper said:

Wow you can just add bandwidth together damn my teachers were wrong all these

Unfortunately the guy had a bit of a meltdown on Gaf but he did make some reasonable points in other posts



Visiblemode said:

@Ginkgo yes exactly! Aside from the obvious desperation of using specs to make the argument that specs don't matter...the core of this latest MS PR fiasco is based around a one sided public argument.

Like you said, Sony isn't having this discussion... So what info is MS even going on? How can they address Sony clock speeds to begin with? Why optimize in these tiny incremental ways and then make such a public issue of it?

The reason is simple. They are comparing their final product to what information they've snaked out of Sony dev kits. Not only is that not final hardware, but the desperation to prove they aren't lagging behind can only be an argument vs developers themselves, since Sony isn't saying anything and consumers don't have units or generally understand specs.

If devs are saying 30%, it's probably more or less accurate.

Microsoft needs to calm down. I think lady doth protest too much.



Tashawn857 said:

I quote this from user "kevinjoshualim" on PSU.COM
"First of all, if he was talking about a 50% increase in CPU cores then he would be correct. However, GPUs are a highly parallel environment. CPUs are regarded generally as the serial processing unit and GPUs as the parallel processing unit.

In the case of 12 CUs & 768 Shaders vs 18 CUs & 1152 Shaders on a GPU, more is always better. While I admit that in itself will not create a 50% power advantage; it is a considerable advantage.

He also neglects to mention another important point; the PS4 GPU has 32 ROPS & 72 Texture Units vs the Xbox One GPU's 16 ROPS & 48 Texture Units; this in itself is another considerable advantage that will cause the PS4 to age much better.

The Xbox One GPU has an 853MHz vs 800MHz advantage in clock speed over the PS4 GPU. I'm going for the PS4 but any bumps in tech specs on any system is always a plus for the industry. However, 12 Compute Units @ 853MHz vs 18 Compute Units @ 800MHz(?) on a GPU and the latter still wins out easily.

MS/Xbox continue to add the bandwidth of separate pipes together in their pr statements to try and fool the uninformed when in reality it does not work like that. It is NOT 272GB/s!

That 204GB/s peak theoretical read/write is limited to a 32MB chunk of low latency eSRAM but the main DDR3 2166MHz RAM is unified pool limited to 68GB/s of peak theoretical bandwidth. Around 20GB/s of that is inherently available to the CPU. The Xbox advantage here is a 30GB/s CPU-to-GPU HSA link.

On the PS4 you have a single, simple unified pool of GDDR5 5500MHz RAM which acts as a unified address space with 176GB/s of peak theoretical bandwidth across the board. Again, around 20GB/s of which is inherently available to the CPU. The PS4 has a 20GB/s CPU-to-GPU HSA link.

...and before anyone brings up latency advantages, in a traditional PC arena the DDR3 has a clear edge and the GDDR5 suffers (though the gap isn't quite as pronounced in the first place as some would say), however, hUMA/HSA implement a special memory controller configuration which neautralises much of this issue; and even without this, the better choice and compromise in a GPU-centric gaming console would be GDDR5.

So...the Xbox Advantages? A CPU with a marginally higher clock (though PS4 CPU clock is yet to be confirmed) and a notable amount of additional bandwidth coming in directly from the GPU. It's likely the SHAPE Audio chip is stronger than the Audio chip in the PS4 so there will be a slight ease in CPU load vs the PS4. A GPU with 53MHz clock advantage.

And...the PS4 advantages? A GPU with 29% additional computational power, a 50% increase in Compute Units/Shaders, a 50% increase in texture units, a 100% increase in fillrate and a 700% increase in compute queue granularity. A simpler, faster pool of GDDR5 RAM that acts as a unified address space.

Sony also have the stronger tools this time around, have had a better policy from the outset, they've put together a console with more raw power, likely with a chip die that is ironically smaller and subsequently cooler, in a smaller, more iconic, cheaper box with an internal psu that is selling in more countries earlier.

Also, people have to stop throwing around inexact percentages and stating them as if they count for the system as a whole; and people need to stop interchanging words like "power", "speed" etc.

Multiplatform games will for the most part be developed to the lowest common denominator; and the fact is that overall that is the Xbox One. So we're only likely to see a slightly stronger Image Quality & Performance on PS4 for most multiplats.

The first party PS4 titles though will pull away considerably though by the second and third generation of titles; and the lack of fillrate/texture units will age the Xbox One more by then."



Faustek said:


Bravo bravo!

Not everyone will understand all that but it was a damned good post.
I just tell my niece this when she wanted an explanation.

You run faster than I do right? But I'm stronger right?
So what goes faster you running back and forth from the car and taking two shopping bags at the time or me taking all eight at once?

And she usually gets that better than all technical explanations but she is getting there, can't expect a 13 year old to understand everything, heck even I have to Google up bits of info nearly every damn day since I forgot sucks getting old folks.



PMasterTy9 said:

@Tashawn857 Wow that was pretty detailed and good information.

If Microsoft wants to prove they have better hardware then they should run benchmarks on it and release them to the public and have Sony do the same. Microsoft is looking and sounding more desperate each day.



Imagremlin said:

Whilst its true the Sony has this tendency to inflate their specs, It I read the stories correctly its not Sony talking, its the devs.

Having said that, I don't expect much graphical difference early in the cycle, We'll probably start to see the difference in the second half of the next gen, like we did in the current cycle when some multiplatform titles were almost unplayable on the PS3 (**cough*bethesda*cough**)



odd69 said:

I never cared for specs of a console, if the machine plays games ill probably buy it.



astarisborn94 said:

The issue really isn't the specs anyway. It's that Microsoft is trying to charge $499 for a slightly weaker system; $100 more than the PS4. While the $599 PS3 price was definitely outlandish, at least it was the strongest console by a considerable margin (and it went down as the years go by). The Xbox One, on the other hand, should be costing less than the PS4 and only cost as much as it did because of Kinetic being bundled with the system.



Gamer83 said:

I mean really, I don't know why MS would care. If power mattered PS2 and Wii aren't the best selling consoles of their respective generations.



artemisthemp said:

I just wish someone would invente a Device that could calculate the exchange rate between $ --> €, $ --> £ and € --> £ since companies and Microsoft Cloud apparently can't



scott23uk said:

Ive had play station 1 the ps1 ps2 ps3 psp etc I wanted a ps4 but couldnt as the pre orders was insane so ive gone with a xbox one I respect both consoles and in my opinion I reckon half of you wont even see the difference other then the price ranges between both consoles both will share cross platform games anyway ul just get idiots on youtube like u do know comaparing a game on each console thats the identical same so unless theres a huge difference like really big in game play then il buy a ps4

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