Microsoft Xbox One engineers talk about ESRAM, CPU speed and more



May 4, 2013
There's been tons of talk on the Internet about how Sony's upcoming PlayStation 4 console has more powerful hardware compared to what Microsoft has put into the Xbox One. Microsoft execs have been trying to show that the Xbox One is much closer to the PS4 in hardware performance than what the mere numbers may show on the surface.

Today, Microsoft made yet another push to convince hardcore gamers and hardware junkies that the Xbox One is very competitive with the PS4. The Digital Foundry team at Eurogamer posted an article that was based on a chat with two Microsoft engineers who worked on the Xbox One's hardware.

Microsoft technical fellow Andrew Goosen stated in the article there is a "lot of misinformation out there" about what's inside the Xbox One. One of those aspects deals with the console's use of ESRAM. The PS4 uses 8GB of GDDR5 RAM at 5500 MHz for 170.6 GB/s of bandwidth. The Xbox One uses 8GB of DDR3 RAM at 2133 MHz for 68.3 GB/s of bandwidth, but also adds an extra 32 MB of ESRAM for 102 GB/s of embedded memory bandwidth.

Microsoft's Xbox hardware architecture team manager Nick Baker seemed to hint that the company wanted the Xbox One to have a solid balance for its memory and that using the PS4's GDDR5 hardware was not considered early in the development process. He said :

In terms of getting the best possible combination of performance, memory size, power, the GDDR5 takes you into a little bit of an uncomfortable place. Having ESRAM costs very little power and has the opportunity to give you very high bandwidth. You can reduce the bandwidth on external memory - that saves a lot of power consumption and the commodity memory is cheaper as well so you can afford more.

Much of this highly technical article offers up more information on ESRAM in the Xbox One but there is also some mentions on the CPU inside the console. Microsoft announced recently that they had raised the CPU clock speed for the final retail version from 1.60 GHz to 1.75 GHz. However, Gooosen says:

Adding the margin on the CPU... we actually had titles that were losing frames largely because they were CPU-bound in terms of their core threads. In providing what looks like a very little boost, it's actually a very significant win for us in making sure that we get the steady frame-rates on our console

If your brain doesn't explode from the amount of technical jargon, there's plenty of new and highly specific information on the Xbox One's hardware in this article and it's well worth checking out.

Source: Eurogamer