Since the release of the Xbox One and the PS4, both consoles have come under flak regarding the framerates and native resolutions they achieve for some of their games, particularly the Xbox One. However, according to Jean-Baptiste Bolcato, senior producer at Rebellion Games ( the studio behind Sniper Elite 3 ) the field may be evening out between the two machines.
One of the significant differences between the two consoles, in terms of hardware, was the memory. While the PS4 has 8GB of speedy GDDR5 memory, the Xbox One has 8GB of DDR3, which is slower. To compensate, the Xbox One has a small pool of super-fast memory, known as eSRAM, to complement the larger amount of DDR3 memory. This has been the cause of some controversy between developers and keen gamers alike; some developers praise the eSRAM for its versatility, while others prefer the simplicity of the PS4′s memory architecture.
Bolcato, in an interview with GamingBolt, explains what this difference means for the two consoles:
“I think eSRAM is easy to use… Part of the problem is it’s just a little bit too small to output 1080p within that size. It’s such a small size within there that we can’t do everything with that little buffer of super-fast RAM. It means you have to do it in chunks or using tricks, tiling it and so on. It’s a bit like the reverse of the PS3. PS3 was harder to program for than the Xbox 360. Now it seems that everything has reversed but it doesn’t mean it’s less powerful – it’s just a pain in the ass to start with. We are on fine ground now but the first few months were hell.”
Interestingly, John Carmack, of Doom fame, also commented on the huge improvement Sony had gone through with their developer kits at QuakeCon 2013, compared to the last generation where the PS3 was a little harder to develop for, despite being as capable. It would seem the positions are reversed now, with the PS4 being easier to develop for in comparison to the Xbox One.
Bolcato continues to explain why the achieving a native 1080p resolution can be fixed:
“They are releasing a new SDK [developer kit] that’s much faster, and we will be comfortably running at 1080p on the Xbox One. We were worried six months ago and we are not any more, it’s got better and they are quite comparable machines.”
There has also been speculation as to how Microsoft will leverage its cloud computing platform to offload certain tasks. Many believe that, in the long run, this will help push the Xbox One over the 1080p barrier.
To conclude, the news will certainly gladden many gamers that Microsoft is aware of the issue with the lack of 1080p games, and is taking steps to eliminate it, but with the relentless advent of 4K gaming, is it too little too late?