There are currently rumours flying around the internet regarding Microsoft’s Xbox One console – when isn’t there. This time, they state that Microsoft increased the RAM from 8GB of DDR3, to 12GB of DDR3. In the same rumour, the GPU (graphics processing unit) is also said have its clock speed raised, from 800MHZ to an undefined number – let’s say for example, 900MHZ.
Sony’s Playstation 4 also sports 8GB of ram (although faster GDDR5 RAM, where as the Xbox One requires ESRAM to help make up the lost ground). The difference between the PS4 and Xbox One’s memory quantity goes deeper, in that the Xbox One uses 3GB of the 8 for operating systems functions. There are a total of three operating systems running inside the Xbox One, which eats a lot of the RAM, leaving 5GB for games. Compare this to the rumour that Sony leaves 7GB for games – quite the difference. The 12GB upgrade, at least in quantity, would therefore give the Xbox One a 2GB advantage over the PS4. However, there are several reasons I believe this is false. Firstly, a quote from the examiner (who were one of the original sources of the article).
“The bump was supposed to have been planned prior to initial reveal. Any actual changes would have taken place during E3 Week. Effectively, the way the RAM is set out in the machine, Microsoft realized they could be more efficient in its use without sacrificing the amount set aside for OS operation. They immediately reacted.
Physical RAM won’t be upped in time for November release as it was too late even during initial reveal, but developers are saying, in terms of efficiency of the RAM and the reported yield problems, Microsoft have made some snappy breakthroughs and gave the impression it was a straight up increase in clock speed; hence the rumor”.
Although that’s fairly damning in and of itself, let’s take a look at a few other reasons:
The Xbox One is pretty damn close to launch, and we know that MS have started to produce their final yields of hardware (due to the recent revelation with the ESRAM). So, doesn’t it make sense that there can’t be much more room to improve? They’ve simply run out of time so close to launch.
Why would they keep quiet about it? They’re on the defensive right now, with many people in the ‘know’ speaking about the Xbox One’s 1.24TFLOPS vs the Playstation 4’s 1.84. Furthermore, the memory disparity is also cause of concern. Why would they want to keep people in the dark of this? The only possible reason is that they don’t want Sony finding out, and having them somehow raise the memory – but I don’t think Sony at this point could go from 8GB of GDDR5 to 12 or more.
The Xbox One’s APU is comprised of (amongst other things) a memory controller, AMD Jaguar CPU, and 12 GCN units based on the Radeon 7xxx structure. The main point however, is that it’s dual channel – NOT tri channel. This means that the possible configurations are either 4, 8, or 16GB of DDR3. 16GB I could understand – but let’s be honest, it’s more than likely not going to happen – it’d effectively double RAM costs in the machine. Tri-channel memory configurations would require huge redesign of the internals.
Xbox One Graphic Core Clock Speed:
So far as we know, the GPU clock speed in the Xbox One equals to 800MHZ. This gives us the 1.24TFLOPS of computing power, which everyone speaks about. There have been numerous rumours regarding this clock speed. One stated that MS were having yield and heat issues, and so the Xbox One GPU was requiring them to run it at either 700 or 600MHZ… in other words 100 to 200MHZ slower. At such speeds, MS wouldn’t be able to read the 1.24TFLOPS of computing power.
The latest rumours turn this on its head, and say “no, they’re thinking of raising the clock speed”. Well, okay – I guess it’s an easy decision. All they’ve got to do is crank up the clock speed right? No, of course not. Yield issues, heat problems, power requirements and much more are the reasons they’ve been sticking with 800MHZ. Unless they vastly underestimated the heat the system would put out, in which case they MIGHT be able to do it. Assuming sufficient amount of their AMD Jaguar GPU cores would run at let’s say 850 or 900MHZ. It’s unlikely, to say the least.
It’s indeed another question of “why haven’t they announced it” too. If I were MS, or indeed any company – and I was able to run my clock speed higher than previously announced, I’d be yelling it from the roof. They certainly did when it came to the ESRAM.
Finally – there’d be issues with memory bandwidth. Would the combo of DDR3 and ESRAM even be able to cope with the GPU running faster? The DDR3 is likely to cause issues as is, despite the ESRAM being there for support, it’s small – only 32MB. This isn’t enough to keep the system fed in every single eventuality. It’s one of the reasons that Mark Cerny (lead PS4 architect) went for GDDR5 and no ESRAM, despite it meaning possible higher max bandwidth.
All in all, I don’t believe the rumours. I’ll say that the Xbox One has 8GB of DDR3, and runs its GPU at 800MHZ. As much as I’d prefer to see say 1.6TFLOPS of computing power, I think it’s too late in the game at this point.