What Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4 Will Take From PCs

With AMD hardware rumoured to be in both next-generation consoles, just what does that mean for developers, gamers, and the future of video games?

by

If the many rumours and supposed leaks surrounding the Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4 are to be believed--and according to GameSpot's sources there's every reason to--both will represent a dramatic change in console architecture. With the exception of the original Xbox--which was based on an Intel Pentium III--consoles have traditionally relied on custom processors and graphics hardware to power them. The Xbox 360, for instance, uses a custom 3.2GHz PowerPC processor, while the PlayStation 3 uses Cell, itself also based on PowerPC architecture.

Traditionally, that has presented something of an issue for developers, particularly for those who started in PC development based on the much more ubiquitous X86 architecture that has powered PCs since the late '70s. Most famously, Valve's Gabe Newell called the PS3 a "waste of everyone's time" and said that developers won't "gain anything except a hatred of the architecture [Sony has] created." Strangely, he changed his tune at the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo and the launch of Portal 2, but there are other developers who have gone on record to question the ease of PS3 development.

The rumoured specs of Sony's PS4 and Microsoft's Xbox 720 show that both companies are creating hardware that will make developers' lives easier, even if it's unconsciously so. The PS4 is rumoured to be powered by an x64, 8-core AMD processor. The Xbox 720 is similarly rumoured to sport an x64, 8-core processor running at 1.6GHz. While the current information on the Xbox 720 doesn't specify exactly which processor it's using, given the lack of 8-core parts from Intel outside of its server-based Itanium range, it's safe to assume that it too is powered by AMD.

Xbox 720 "Durango"PlayStation 4 "Orbis"
System Memory: 8GB DDR3
Video Memory: Unknown
CPU: 8 x64 CPU cores @ 1.6GHz
GPU: Custom 800MHz, 12 Shader Cores
Ports: USB 3.0, Ethernet
Drive: Blu-Ray
HDD: Unknown
Audio Output: HDMI & Optical
System Memory: 8GB
Video Memory: 2.2GB
CPU: 8 x64 AMD
GPU: AMD R10xx, 18 Shader Cores
Ports: 4x USB 3.0, 2x Ethernet
Drive: Blu-Ray
HDD: 160 GB
Audio Output: HDMI & Optical

The specs of the chips line up nicely with those of AMD's upcoming Jaguar architecture, which is a design intended for use with notebooks, ultrabooks, and tablets. While that doesn't immediately scream "high performance," the chips do have several features that are desirable in game consoles. Most notable is that the Jaguar is based on a 28nm fabrication process that integrates the GPU into the CPU die. It's an efficient design that means there are fewer parts to be made, there's less heat to disperse, and power consumption is much lower. Given that the original versions of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 pulled close to 200W under load, with reliability suffering as a result, Jaguar's design should be more cost efficient and reliable.

From a performance perspective, numerous benchmarks show AMD's chips lagging behind Intel's when it comes to raw power. The situation is flipped, however, when it comes to pushing 3D graphics. While it's not clear what family of GPU will be powering the next generation of consoles, the fact that it's integrated suggests something similar to AMD's current mobile chips, like the 7970m (itself a close relation of the desktop 7870). Indeed, the 800MHz clock speed rumoured to be in both the PS4 and Xbox 720 show that it's most likely a slightly trimmed-down version of the 7970m. That chip runs at 850MHz and features 20 of AMD's Graphics Core Next units.

Looking at the performance of the 7870m gives us some indication of what power to expect from both next-generation consoles. The folks over at Tom's Hardware reviewed the card late last year and produced a great set of benchmarks with games running at max settings at 1080p: Dirt 3, 74.4fps; Battlefield 3, 54.2fps; Metro 2033, 25fps; Skyrim, 62.2fps; and Starcraft II, 104.5fps. We've picked out the top-end benchmarks here (all games at max setting at 1080p), but if you're curious about some of the GPU's other features, there's plenty more to check out at Tom's.

Those keen to see a huge leap in GPU power over the last generation of consoles, or those hoping for Ultra HD 4K resolutions, may be disappointed with those results. However, it's worth remembering that without the overheads of a fully fledged operating system like Windows, and the advantages of an integrated design, there's potential for much greater performance over a similarly configured PC.

That is, unless both Sony and Microsoft opt to use a much more complex operating system to power their consoles. While there's no information on either console's OS at present, the rumour that both will come with 8GB of RAM is an indicator that multitasking is at the forefront of their design. With the Xbox 360 and PS3 increasingly being used more for media playback, Sony and Microsoft may wish to offer more-advanced, PC-like features that increase functionality, at the expense of some processing overhead. Would Microsoft go as far as to use Windows 8 to power the next Xbox? Probably not, but at the very least it would make sense for Microsoft to extend the same user interface values present in its desktop OS and Windows Phone 8 over to the Xbox to reduce consumer confusion.

Regardless, developers should be able to hit the ground running in a way that just hasn't been possible with past console generations. That's the hope anyway. Sega's Dreamcast gave developers the option of using Windows CE and DirectX to program games, but most of them opted to use Sega's own software instead. Or they simply went and developed for the PlayStation 2 with its notoriously complicated Emotion Engine. The original Xbox--which used actual PC hardware to power it--suffered less from the intense popularity of the PS2, but that was down to the allure of Xbox Live more than ease of development.

Still, with both consoles said to sport a design that's much closer to PC architecture than it has ever been, there's a hope that launch titles will make much better use of the power available. Having to wait for years until developers get a firm grasp on what each console can do should be much less of an issue this time, provided both companies can come up with alluring and easy-to-use developer kits. And given the similarities between both consoles, porting between them should be a much easier process too.

PC gamers should also see a benefit. For better or worse, consoles have been the lead platforms in multiplatform game development for some time. But by making the transition to x64 architecture, scaling games up for more powerful PC hardware or scaling them down for consoles should be an easier process. And make no mistake: a current quad core i5 or i7 PC armed with a high-end GPU like a GTX 680 is--at least in theory--comfortably more powerful than what's rumoured to be in the new Xbox and PlayStation. But if developers are able to leverage that power and trickle it down to consoles, or even Valve's upcoming Steambox (rumoured to be based on AMD hardware), there's a strong chance we'll see some real visual advancements.

Indeed, at last year's DICE summit, Epic's Mark Rein all but confirmed that Unreal Engine 4 (as shown in the video above) is up and running on next-generation consoles, or in his words, on "systems [they] can't name yet." Sure, the Xbox 720 and PS4 might not be the leap in technology some were hoping for, but if we see anything like the Unreal 4 tech demo running on those consoles, the future is looking very bright indeed for video games.

Discussion

2424 comments
mrblue2800
mrblue2800

hope to see some mind blowing games next year with these kinds of graphics 


shane9494
shane9494

lol they might have put decent hardware but not exelent into the consols but pc will still drive them outa the market simple reason really they have made it easyer for people to by a pc rather then a consol now because the ps4 is gonna cost R15 000 or $1200 so then who is gonna by a ps4 when they can by a pc with decent specs that playes all games on ultra graphics + the graphics will still look better for around R6000 that is a huge leap in price compare to the pc right ? or if you have a home pc witch most people already do then you can spend the R6000 on a really decent graphics card witch will be way more powerfull then the ps4 or xbox i wont lie i am a hard core pc gamer and i love pc to bits but then my question is there is no reason to by a consol when you already have a pc + pc games are cheaper thats a fact oh and another thing if they think for one moment that they gonna beat pc in terms of hardware that is not the case at all for a simple reason really its because pc hardware is constantly comming out and pc are constantly being updated and what the ps4 and xbox are released every 6 years uhuhuhuh i dont think everything is going to go smoothly for them remember they are going up against the worlds dominating gaming system ever built. and if the ps4 and xbox 720 is like a pc then why by a xbox and ps4 if you already have a pc anyway ? i wouldnt knowing you can by a bewast of a pc for much much cheaper. oh and i almost forgot what about customization ? i mean its not as easy as customizing your pc right ? every body wants there stuff to look nice and with pc it gives you everything you need im sorry to say but i have played on consols and i dont think that consols gives me the feeling that pc does that in game xp you know its just wonderfull that feeling the graphics the customization and everything .when you have a gamming pc then you can only call your self a gamer coz it lets you stand out from the world. and i think every one wants to be noticed and with pc thats posible . :)

StevoComesAlive
StevoComesAlive

remember, this is hardware that game designers are going to be heavily optimizing their games with. I'm sure we're going to be seeing some mind blowing graphics. 

Karjah
Karjah

I'll just put this plainly and simply. 

It doesn't even matter if the PC can push past the consoles at this point in time.  

Most gamers won't spend 1200 or more on a gaming platform.  People will spend 400 or even 500.  

Devs make the games where most of the market lies.  Most gamers are will continue to be console gamers because of the increased accessibility of consoles.

Personally I'll continue to keep both a decent gaming pc and a console so I don't miss out.

Ham14
Ham14

Great read. Thank you! 

Vividnightmare
Vividnightmare

This is just the same cycle as always. I've been in this industry for years as a fan and this back and forth is a constant. When consoles come out they push graphics, years pass and with PC's always updating they eventually take the lead. There are obvious advantages to the console design, even with how outdated the 360 is compared to modern PC's I'm impressed with how good things like Dead Space 3 and Halo 4 look. While I am disappointed with the specs, the 8 core structure may offer greater advantages over a faster 4 core design. Personally I would have gone with a dual 8 core cpu setup at 3 Ghz but I'm just a performance hound like that. Basically though, the next gen of consoles need to be able to run the Unreal 4 AND 5 engines, the Source 2 engine and the Crysis 4/5 Engines. Those three technologies will pretty much be the back bone of game development I'm guessing for at least the next five years, maybe 10 depending on the rate of tech evolution.

Legend002
Legend002

We are all gamers. Let's not start a war.

burny1995
burny1995

Been along time coming if you ask me, as a pc playing cba for mmo rpgs person I have to admit most PC games are ports. Which is why I am happy for the 720 and ps4 hopefully make games look and play alot better!!. Thought I should say though basicly the only games I play are total wars and Fallouts ( with loads of mods **** vanilla games) ;). Also games really are getting ****er I only played like 30 minutes of farcry 3 (so called game of the year) VIVA ROME 2!!!!!!!!!!!

oflow
oflow

Ok consoles are now much closer to being PCs. Call me when they bring out uniform crossplatform gaming.

We need to PC & console players to be able to play against each other to finally settle who has the biggest epeen.

RT-XD
RT-XD

So they are now planning on making consoles more like PCs? Doesn't that kind of prove that PC is the ultimate platform? Not to mention the Big Picture from Valve, which now allows PCs to have controllers. Basically. PCs are now becoming the ultimate gaming platform - these next gen "consoles" would be almost like buying a gaming specific PC

cbrandao
cbrandao

I guess since with the popularization of Microsoft Xbox consoles, video games are going in one direction to get increasingly more like a PC architecture and offer similar functionality, highlighted, because most games today have the ability to be played online. For a long time this has happened, the market leading platforms Xbox, PS3 and PC are producing quality games with very similar design. However, this was not always true, for example in the age 16 and 32 bit, the games had a great blunder in terms of graphics quality and performance, if it were played on different architectures. The impression it gives is that no matter what platform you play more, but what game you're playing, the focus today is more on software than on hardware set. Consumers are no longer concerned with the technical details of the internal chips, memory, etc but if you like the games produced in design, sound and gameplay. The only manufacturer that still maintains some of the roots-oriented architecture consoles is Nintendo, with its Nintendo Wii.

LukeJefferies
LukeJefferies

I want to settle this PC vs Consoles thing with a comprehensive post...

Lets look at a few categories... Graphics, Game Styles, Exclusives, Cost, Convenience, Customisation, Xtra Features

Graphics... Winner... PC

PC definitely has the edge on graphics BUT it must be noted that this comes at a cost, not only does the hardware cost more at various points in the cycle a PC will have to be upgraded to be able to play the latest games and/or with the best graphics i.e. at various points in a  consoles lifespan it will beat the PC for graphics (a 7y.o. console playing Halo 4 beats the graphics of a 7 y.o PC playing anything). Also it should be noted that the graphics difference between a console and PC is not huge.

Game Styles... Winner... Tie

FPS + RTS + MMO... Winner PC, Adventure + Sport + Platform + Motion + Fighting + Racing... Consoles

RPG's + Casual Games... Tie

Exclusives... Winner... Tie (good exclusives on all platforms, generally in line with categories above)

PC Exclusives: WOW, Torchlight, Starcraft II, Guildwars II, Diablo 3, Sim City, Total War...

PS3 Exclusives: Uncharted, Last of Us, God of War, Gran Turisimo, Nino Nu Kini...

X360 Exclusives: Halo 4, Gears of War, Forza Motorsport, Fable series...

Cost... Winner... consoles

Convenience... Winner... consoles

Customisation... Winner... PC

Xtra Features... Winner... PC 

(Although lets face it everyone will always have a PC anyway so the extra features a "gaming" PC provides over a regular PC are negligible, in which case the winner could be said to be consoles (for foxel, netflix etc)

Summary - PC's are better if you mainly like FPS+RTS games or value PC exclusives and have the $/time to keep your rig up to date.

Consoles are better if you like sports/Adventure/Platform/Motion games or value console exclusives and prefer to spend less on your gaming or value convenience.

Overall Result.. tie, with personal choice given value placed on individual sections detailed above

marcio_castro
marcio_castro

Well, PC hardware will always be better than consoles, but it doesn't matter at all. Just the development of PC games could follow the same standard of console games, that have good quality of graphics even with "old hardware".

handelo
handelo

"Still, with both consoles said to sport a design that's much closer to PC architecture than it has ever been, there's a hope that launch titles will make much better use of the power available."
And enable for much easier emulation. Screw exclusives, I wanna play everything on my PC :P

"but if we see anything like the Unreal 4 tech demo running on those consoles, the future is looking very bright indeed for video games"
That's extremely unlikely. Though UE4 should be even more optimized than it was for the demo, they still stated that nothing short of the strongest GPU processor on the market could run it at a smooth framerate. And what they called smooth was, at the time, around 40 fps, not the desired 60+. Also, take into account that Unreal-based games have always had better compatibility with nVidia GPU's rather than AMD's, especially when it comes to PhysX.

Just sayin', don't get your hopes up, console players. You'd hate to have them crushed.

tizmond
tizmond

I don't really care about graphics, or hardware the next gen consoles will be using. I'd just like to see some new titles rather than a bunch of sequels with shinier graphics like: Halo 5, Gears Of War 4, Uncharted 4, God Of War 4 etc. It would be nice to see some new, decent console exclusives, rather than the usual line-up of aforementioned sequels.  If not, then it's a new gaming PC rig for me, or the Steam Box if it's any good.

HogStomp
HogStomp

Tablet games all the way!

slainta
slainta

The debate about HW power is over rated. If one day the GPUs will perform zillion s of FLOPS, what the heck do they think they will be able to do in a 2Mpixel screen? Let's even say in a 4K one, not that it matters much (i predict a huge ultra HD  flop. No one can notice the difference in resolution after few feet). We will get all games at 1080p with a stable 60fps and all lighting. shadows, whatever effects and crap like that? Fine. No one needs anything more. Now just give us the creative games. The techs did their job already, it's time for the artists to move their butts!

LukeWesty
LukeWesty

How I see it, there is no exclusives for pc other than the boring crap nobody cares about other than nurds, if there was exclusives like the xbox or ps3, we could actually see what this power house could actually do (pc), but no gd game maker cares about the pc so we will never know.

cryofax
cryofax

@KarjahYeah I have a high end PC but also all the consoles. Some games are just suited to different platforms. I prefer my PC usually, but I have to have my NCAA football fix, Dance Central for the kids, etc. I don't get the fanboyism from people.I didn't make the consoles nor do I profit from them. What do I care what somebody else has? Personally I'm also very excited about the rise of Android as a major player. I work as a game dev for an indie company and more options are great! :)

BestJinjo
BestJinjo

@Vividnightmare To run UE4 in full detail, Epic mentioned that PS4/Xbox 720 would need GPUs with 2.5 Tflops of processing power. Both console's rumored GPU specs are well below that level, especially the Xbox 720's. Also, there is no such thing as UE5 and CryEngine 4-5. We don't even know if those engines will be coded around DX12 or newer. Right now the goal of consoles should be new IPs, keep prices < $450 and DX11 games in 1080P with more realistic physics effects, AI, textures, etc.  I wouldn't even worry about things like UE5 or CryEngine 5.

burny1995
burny1995

Plus however cotch it is using a controller on my PC I keep going back to keyboards and mice soooo much easyer :)

BillJr106
BillJr106

@oflow  I wouldnt want cross platform gaming... It would compromise the XBOX because they have the best online infrastructure built, and everyone else, PS3 included, uses a lesser or free system. You get what you pay for. Also, I think cross platform multiplayer would help out other consoles. So if XBOX leads in sales and has more COD players online, but you can just go on a PS3 and play with the XBOX players, than it hurts the XBOX sales and lowers incentive.

failboater
failboater

@oflow The did this with shadowrun but  cancled it saying that an average gamer on a pc would beat a pro playing on a console 9 times out of 10. The mouse keyboard combo is hard to beat.

failboater
failboater

@LukeJefferies I play at 2560x1440 which is four times the resolution a console puts out.I play at 60 FPS at this resolution and i max out all my games. Graphics are not close. I pay more than a console for stat up, but I think we all know that the cost of games far makes up for it. For example I got 25 games for 15 bucks during the last steam sale. AAA titles. Thats already a savings of 1,235 dollars. Purely because of games the cost of PC gaming is much much lower than on a console/

oflow
oflow

@LukeJefferies TLDR version:  Consoles are for chilling on the couch with friends, PCs are for RTS and MMOs. PC's have better graphics. Consoles have more exclusives and are easier to use. PCs cost more.

Phelaidar
Phelaidar

@handeloBut I doubt Physx will have much impact now...

Both of them uses AMD hardware, I'm not a tech, but shouldn't it make games easier to have a port more compatible with AMD techs?

And Physx is already a gimmick... Consoles having no support for it, physics will still be calculated on CPU, and I doubt many developers would re-code them for CUDA.


gamefreak215jd
gamefreak215jd

@AllyG What's really stupid about nintendo is that they decided to launch it a year before the next gen release.

blackace
blackace

@MR-PERSIANGAMER 

No one cares what you think. Remember that the next time you decide to make a comment concerning game consoles. 

slainta
slainta

@MR-PERSIANGAMER I think both Gamespot and IGN should write an article: Why PC gamers are obnoxious and no one gives a damn about the specs of their POS. Followed by: PC gaming between myths and reality: The waste of the overpowered hardware.

failboater
failboater

@slainta As a guy who plays at 2.5k, I notice a massive difference. Huge.

failboater
failboater

@LukeWesty I dont understand. Starcraft 2 matches are shown on tv in other countries in the world. No concole game can claim that kind of following. Not only that but PC gaming make more money than Console gaming yearly. 
Most importantly you make no sense. We would not be able to compair PC exclusives so you wouldnt be able to so how much better it is. Instead lets look at whats out. 
Just compare Skyrim on PC to Skyrim on console. Tell me what you get. 

gamefreak215jd
gamefreak215jd

@LukeWesty Excuse me :

Arma series(definitely a real military sim)

Star Craft series

Half Life series(the big daddy of FPS)

Witcher series

Cyberpunk 2077(coming soon)

Star citizen(coming soon)

Total war series..............and many more.

And should I  remind you that Halo and Battlefield were originally  PC exclusives?




slainta
slainta

@failboater Oh well, if you like to play it easy…. Here, I have even a better solution. Use a touch screen for FPS. Touch the screen and the gun will shoot straight there. You'll get 99% of headshots. Now, beat that!!! 

Meteor7
Meteor7

@oflow @LukeJefferies and PC offers more options to the game (usually with mods) and PC offers good FPS experience as well. Battlefield 3 is much better on the PC than the console, Counter Strike is a good FPS on PC, Planetside 2 is a mixture of FPS and MMO, and hell even CoD can be a good option (my mouth burned saying that). It all depends on which style of gaming you prefer.

failboater
failboater

@slainta @MR-PERSIANGAMER I pay more up front but I save thousands a year on games. 25 games for 15 bucks on steam. Ive tallied it up and to get the console releases you would have to spend around 1,250. Not to mention that no one has to pay for a game if they dont want to nowa days. Consoles are money pits. Besides I can do work on a PC. 

slainta
slainta

@failboater @slainta Sticking your nose into the monitor. As I wrote, after few feet the human eyes can't distinguish. And that's what console gamers do. We sit comfortably in the couch while playing. No need to be like a nerd glued to a chair to use ugly and physically disrupting m&k. In any case the difference is not that big. Not while playing. The brain other than the eye is busy doing other things that just check every single pixel. High HD resolution, like the retina display, are good mostly for writing texts. But that is not worth the current price either.

mundus
mundus

@gamefreak215jd@LukeWesty Halo 1 wasn't, it was in development, but it came out for Xbox first cause bungie was purchased by microsoft.

You are underselling the PC though, you didn't even mention games like Grim Fandango and Baldur's Gate, which are exclusive to this day and are actually good games, unlike Witcher for example. Lets not forget all the MMORPGs like World of Warcraft.

argonath77
argonath77

@gamefreak215jd @LukeWesty World of war craft , the elder scroll online , Guild wars 2  SWOTR and many many more games ..... its seems like LukeWesty is out dated in PC .

LukeWesty
LukeWesty

@gamefreak215jd @LukeWesty  

So take away the 2 games that are not exclusives = witcher and half life, and the rest are terrible.

Battlefield and Halo stopping making for PC doesnt deffend your case and over all you have made my comment more valid... thanks. :

slainta
slainta

@failboater @slainta @MR-PERSIANGAMER I have 118 downloaded PS3 games on my 750GB HDD. 90+% of them came for free with PS+. I had to buy the new HDD just for that. And then who cares. Far too many games that I play are not for PC. GTA V will be another one. Good luck getting it on Steam.

cryofax
cryofax

@slainta @failboater The difference is huge. Stop deluding yourself. If I run my PC output to my TV the difference between the quality of it vs a console is massive. And at a higher framerate. BTW Mouse and Keyboard feel much more natural than a gamepad for a lot of games, while I prefer gamepad for sports/platforming on my consoles.

cryofax
cryofax

@mundus @gamefreak215jd @LukeWesty Good point about the older games. That's something the PC has that consoles don't TRUE backwards compatability. Some of the older PC games even from the early 90's are still outstanding and you can run them on your current PC. In fact many of them are now free to play.

Vuyolicious
Vuyolicious

@mundus @gamefreak215jd @LukeWesty Speaking from the perspective of a casual gamer, LukeWesty has a point. All these games mentioned by all of you are made for those "COD sucks, I'm a real gamer, I play World of Warcraft/Baldur's Gate/some other game made for a niche market that nobody's ever heard of" type of people i.e. nerds. A casual gamer would never buy a gaming pc costing a fortune just to play those games. Developers no longer have interest in the PC because they are targeting the casual gamer, that's where the money is (and with 13 year olds lol).

gamefreak215jd
gamefreak215jd

@LukeWesty @gamefreak215jd Witcher,the first one didn't exactly appear on 360.And you are a bit stupid to suggest that Half life isn't.well it may considered to be some what like MGS,with one or two of their games being "shared" with the consoles but ultimately on PC users get access to the entire series the upcoming ones included.And I didn't mention that Battle Field stopped coming on PC which it didn't.

Oh and when you said "boring crap which no one cares about except nurds)The first thing that came into my was that you were one of those COD loving losers with horrible grammar.

LukeWesty
LukeWesty

@gamefreak215jd  

Ow and i am not a fan boy I play dayz on the side when something is on tv i want to watch, its a more bit on the side type game for me.