A few days ago, there was news from Ashan Rasheed (perhaps better known as Thuway) regarding the Xbox One. The basic premise was that early during this year (2014) there’d be a driver update released which would increase the performance by about 10 percent. Thuway has since made a series of comments on Twitter which serves to better clarify this update, and also what will be happening with Sony’s Playstation 4 too.
He states that much of what is happening is going to be going on behind the scenes, and it will indeed be driver optimization rather than flat out 10 percent performance boost to the machine.
“Alot of what is going behind the scenes for both X1 and PS4 is driver optimizations. Similar to how you update drivers on PC’s. There is a ton of room for improvement on both machines and drivers will be optimized till the end of the generation. No one will yell off a rooftop that performance has improved thanks to driver updates. These are things that are happening all the time. Current state of both machines has a good room for improvement, and those fruits will manifest themselves in the months to come.
The combination of better drivers, tools, and engine optimizations – will all lead to better visual fidelity. But if you are sitting at the edge of your seat waiting for the announcement about a “driver” performance update- It won’t happen. If you remember what Sony did with PS3 over the year’s, it should hold true this generation as well.” He said via Twitter (click on link for his account, or scroll down for images of his Tweets).
This is pretty much my own stance on things, and what I mentioned in the original article. I’ve read a few messages and articles which are taking this slightly out of content. Microsoft aren’t ‘unlocking’ performance of the machine, overclocking it further or turning on some hidden chip inside the system. Instead, they’re optimizing the drivers and development tools with the system.
Drivers tell the OS (Operating System) how to communicate and use the device, for instance, the GPU. Better drivers will be more efficient, perhaps requiring less CPU utilization, or generally just code improvements. All of this is vitally important from the perspective of game development, particularly in the case of a closed platform system.
Unfortunately, there are still some aspects of both systems that we’re not completely sure about. For example, the PS4’s CPU clock speed hasn’t been confirmed. However, remember Sony have in the past – with both the PS Vita and the PS3 drastically improved the performance of the system. In the case of the PS3, through an update they freed up a significant amount of RAM by reducing OS overhead. This memory therefore was given back to games developers to produce more impressive titles.
In the case of the PS Vita, its GPU clock frequencies ‘overclock’ when its Wi-Fi is disabled. This in turn allows more graphical glory, while not draining the battery super fast. Just remember that this console generation is still early, and Sony and MS are both still in the middle of figuring stuff out.
So to conclude (with the info we know right now), Microsoft and Sony will both be seeing boosts. The boosts won’t be exclusive to the Xbox One, but just how much performance Sony will wrangle out of the PS4 is unknown. The Xbox One and PS4 are very complicated machines, and it’ll take a few years before the development tools and drivers for the machines are mature. Then of course, there’s what the games developers will learn about the architectures of both machines.