Lengthy interview on Xbox One architecture

#1ElPolloDiablo87Posted 9/22/2013 4:34:25 AM
I'll be honest, I have no idea what any of this actually means. But for those who are technically inclined...

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-vs-the-xbox-one-architects
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#2XBOXvsPCPosted 9/22/2013 4:44:32 AM
Thanks for sharing man, very interesting
#3TheApd_ReturnsPosted 9/22/2013 5:42:17 AM
Baker is keen to tackle the misconception that the team has created a design that cannot access its ESRAM and DDR3 memory pools simultaneously. Critics say that they're adding the available bandwidths together to inflate their figures and that this simply isn't possible in a real-life scenario.

"You can think of the ESRAM and the DDR3 as making up eight total memory controllers, so there are four external memory controllers (which are 64-bit) which go to the DDR3 and then there are four internal memory controllers that are 256-bit that go to the ESRAM. These are all connected via a crossbar and so in fact it will be true that you can go directly, simultaneously to DRAM and ESRAM," he explains.


Well, so much for the "LOLOL STOOPID M$ U CANT FOOL US BY TRYING TO ADD ESRAM AND DDR3 BANDWIDTH TOGETHER!!!!1" pony argument.
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#4DesperateMonkeyPosted 9/22/2013 5:43:32 AM
No one is going to read that article... People want numbers that are easy to look at.
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#5TheApd_ReturnsPosted 9/22/2013 6:16:46 AM(edited)
I'll sum it up.

- MS explains that their architecture allows DDR3 and ESRAM to be utilized concurrently. People didn't believe their claims that you could, but they very specifically explain how it works here and it proves the doubters wrong.

- The architecture of the ESRAM was detailed, detailing how both read and write are possible at the same time. It was previously argued that MS was lying before, that the ESRAM could only either read or write one at a time, but this very simply puts that argument to rest and explain how the 200+GB/S bandwidth is possible if the ESRAM is fully utilized.

- There are actually 14 compute units (CUs) on the GPU as opposed to 12... the extra 2 are for manufacturing redundancy and are unusable. Even then, MS ran the numbers and decided they have more to gain from upclocking the GPU rather than enabling those two extra CUs. They found that the gains from extra CUs was extremely inefficent. For reference, the Sony GPU has 18 CUs. They added that while adding extra CUs only impacts shaders and ALU, beefing up frequency like they did adds more power to all aspects of the GPU.

- Tying into that previous block, Digital Foundry's own analysis came to the same conclusion that MS presented: that more CUs does not linearly scale to more power. They had a mock-PS4 PC (with roughly the same specs) and a mock-XBone PC, and despite the PS4 having 50% more CUs, it only yielded a 24% advantage. While this is in no way saying that the GPU in XBone is superior to PS4's, it means that if MS is smart with optimization and Sony isn't, any performance gap in the area of GPUs would be largely mitigated by the time final drivers roll to devkits.

- MS commented on the leak of Sony documents (Sony themselves said that 14 CUs in their GPU is optimal for graphics and what their system is balanced around, despite having 18 for extra headroom) and how it essentially reaffirms what they've learned from their own design process.

- MS found that the largest source of framerate drops was the CPU, hence why the CPU upclock was a big deal for them, as well as why they put so much architecture emphasis on freeing up the CPU.

- Much smoother dynamic resolution capabilities than current gen. Obviously, it would be ideal if a game stayed at native resolution, but the Xbox One has robust capabilities for allowing multiple layers of a game to render at different resolutions while maintaining smooth framerate.

- Overall, MS's argument is that their final driver release of Xbox One will be extremely optimized to minimize bottlenecks: balance is their argument. Of course, we really have to see more tech dives into PS4, as we don't really know much about the specifics of their system beyond the raw numbers provided to us.

- Comment section largely devolved into either Xbox haters/ponies claiming LIES without reading the article, or people commenting on how the internet takes the anonymously-sourced Edge article with no technical details over the DF article that very specifically explains how the Xbox One architecture works.
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#6TheApd_ReturnsPosted 9/22/2013 6:24:04 AM
The one topic on this board that deserves a BUMP, but I'm sure people would rather talk about TV/NSA spying/NFL ad/other troll flavor-of-week topic.
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#7TwistedxL3G3NDPosted 9/22/2013 6:42:18 AM
Don't expect this to get any attention, this is pony territory.
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#8RollnThunder213Posted 9/22/2013 6:53:18 AM
I'm not super tech oriented but this is essentially how I would translate this article to those who don't want to read the whole thing. Again, being completely neutral...

"We think our system has ways to get around whatever raw numbers differences you see and the system is designed for balance to not create bottlenecks in one certain area. We've put a lot of thought into this system and care about the product we're creating. If you don't believe us then the proof will be in the games."

I think that's a fair representation of generally what was said regardless of whether you believe them or not.

I for one believe them. I think some developers right now are just slapping game code into the system and saying, wow, the PS4 has a big advantage because of its stronger GPU and unified memory. I think once developers learn about how they can offload some of things onto custom parts of the hardware easily it'll leave more room on the main power of the GPU/CPU for processing the main game elements. If transferring between the RAM and ESRAM is as easy as they say too developers won't have a tough time taking advantage of it. It'll require more tweaking than having the GDDR5 because they have to decide what goes where, but if it's as fluid as they say going back and forth it won't be a problem.

My opinion is that the PS4's architecture, while having some stronger components and faster main RAM will seem better in the beginning of the generation as it will be easy and simple to use. However, as time goes on we'll see developers taking advantage of all the nooks and crannys in the hardware as they squeeze the last of the performance out of the systems and that's where these custom engines and chips come into play.

Either way, I don't see any of this resulting in one version of a multiplat game being noticeably better than the other. It'll depend more on the developer than the system itself.
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#9RollnThunder213Posted 9/22/2013 7:04:12 AM
I'm surprised they didn't talk about the 8GB of flash memory they have in the system as well. I feel like this is often times completely missed as it was only mentioned at Hot Chips.

This will probably be used for the suspension of games and allowing the system to be able to use full power for other tasks like Skype, Netflix, etc. I think this is incredibly smart on their part and allows the smooth transitions we see from application to game to game to application again without any hiccups or wait times.

I suppose it also has to do with this report was entirely game performance centered and only one or two mentions of the more multimedia-like features (like Kinect preprocessing and HDMI in/out).
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#10adonfrazPosted 9/22/2013 7:09:44 AM
This is awesome news for everyone. If is true that multiplatforms are developed for the weaker system first and then ported, it's good that the performance gap isn't "LOL 50%".
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