The Graphics war.
Now i am a sony fan,unlike some people i have encounter in the many years of forum debating which root for 1 faction and deny been a fan at heart of the faction they defend 24 -7,i am a sony fan,just to get this out of the way because well once i write this many people will say you are a fanboy to counter my arguments so yeah i am a fanboy,doesn't change anything about the facts presented here.
Now we all know that basically since for ever there have been a graphics battle not only between consoles,also vs PC and Mac,and even in Arcades since the 70's,developer were always trying to find 1 way to out done their competitors and deliver something more impressive,since the Intellevision vs Atari days one platforms had been trying to outperform another.
This battle rage on between the Nes and Master system as well as other competitors or that era like the Atari 7800,passing over with the Jaguar,Snes,Genesis and even neogeo which obviously was on a league of its own.
Back then we use to compare what we saw on the screen more than what the console had inside,since 16bits to 8 bits reference was enough to claim victory over anything in those days.
I remember how a friend of mine use to be a huge sega fan because sega had incredible graphics on its games,he would always pull VF2 vs Tekken 2,and latter on Sega's,model 3 board arrive which was ahead of the curve by a long shot,he would brag about how VF3 walked all over Tekken 3 and all that stuff.
With the arrival of MS into the console market,no only a strong players was getting in,but also one that could afford nothing but the best hardware,because how deep its pockets were and still are,with the arrival of the xbox,a new battle for graphics begin,alto the PS2 had some pretty impressive looking games like Tekken 5,it was no match for the xbox superior specs and stronger hardware,the xbox while powerful arrived late into the gen so most people went the PS2 way regardless of the superior hardware and graphics,but never the less a new race of graphics lovers were born and the xbox brand was synonymous of great graphics.
Then on 2005 the xbox 360 arrive with great fanfare,it had greater graphics than the original xbox,which already had better graphics than the PS2,the PS3 didn't arrive until latter next year,and alto it was a powerful machine,it was curse by horrible learning curve developers would have to spend huge budgets to make the hardware shine close to the xbox 360,even more if they wanted the PS3 version to shine equally,so this lead to almost all xbox 360 version of multiplatform games to be superior on xbox 360,and while some actually were superior on PS3,it was very few the place where the PS3 shine was exclusives because sony had the time and willingness to push their games,but the perception for most of the generation was that the xbox 360 was a stronger hardware because mutiplatforms performed better,so to the even bigger user base of xbox 360 fans the victory was theirs.
Now this is a new generation and while xbox fans are use to get powerful hardware,for the hardware makers powerful doesn't warranty success which is what they want their console to be,while the xbox 360 sold great much better than the original one,and was powerful it wasn't the actual winner of the generation,it was Nintendo who won using hardware barely more powerful than MS first console the xbox.
Enter the gimmicks Nintendo which pretty much every one gave for dead after the GC,actually used motions controls and appealed to a casual audience,with a more attractive $250 price as well Nintendo dominated the generation and leave MS and sony on the dust for several years sales wise,now bot MS and sony try something to emulate Nintendo success,MS copy Sony and went with an Eye toy with depth perception,and Sony copy Nintendo and bring a wand like controller call move and a small stick to emulate the nun chuck,and while both were more precise than the wii solution do to using a camera,they failed to catch on so did MS kinect which sold well but never boosted sale to a point where they could pass Nintendo.
The streaming era.
While Sony had support a browser since launch that allowed people to stream from sites like,Youtube,Hulu and justin.tv,it was MS who begin pushing for dedicated apps to stream service like Netflix,and other was well,alto they were hidden under the xbox live pay wall,they became very successful very fast,and by a few years xbox live users were streaming more movies than playing games on xbox one,something that didn't went unnoticed by MS which actually highlight it in internet sites.
Netflix also launch on PS3 but did so using a disc,because MS payed netflix to keep the app access only on xbox live,so netflix found a loop and was able to deliver netflix by disc on PS3,after the PS3 got its app,netflix usage sky rocket on PS3,beating the xbox 360 as main platforms of use and some some even beating PC as well,something MS also notice as well.
Enter the new gen.
After what most be consider as the longest period without a new generation,sony and ms at last started their work on next gen consoles.
Both have different visions of what they wanted for next gen,non knew what the other was doing,MS wanted to include Kinect,something which i have say many times it was the only way to ensure a successful gimmick,say the same about move as well.
Now the generation of the xbox 360 leave MS some nasty losses,so did the first one so if MS was to pack kinect in,it would be at the expense of something else,now MS vision didn't stop they knew Netflix and HBO go were very popular apps on xbox 360,and they knew even more on PS3 netflix was,considering that the PS3 actually outdid the xbox 360 when the topic was media box,the PS3 was blu-ray since day 1 and support for best quality sound to 7.1,MS this time didn't want to stay behind,so they design the xbox one,to have all media features one could think off,and then they took it even further by adding HDMI in,which would allow the xbox one to double as a remote control for your cable box,allowing you to change between gaming and cable by just pressing one button,hell if you use kinect voice commands just by voice.
It was obvious that the vision MS had for the xbox wasn't just games but just a all in one console that did more,now MS knew to do this they have to balance the hardware between cost and power,so for the task they chose DDR3 as memory,a memory drop for years by GPU manufacturers because of been to slow vs other memory types like GDDR5,and to help the GPU not be greatly impact by the lack of bandwidth they embedded 32MB of ESRAM,since they wanted kinect included MS wanted to make sure that the hardware they were using could handle the camera voice recognition feature without been a weight to the CPU,so they on die implemented a sound ship,inside the main APU,as well as other type of processors like,media encoders and decoders DME as well to help with other task and data movement.
Now since making APU is a complex process,it has been very limited what you can cramp inside an APU,is the reason why you don't see an APU with AMD best CPU that also ports AMD best GPU as well,most of the APU on PC if now all are weak vs the top of the line GPU out there.
So MS had to chose what GPU it would pack inside that APU that fit inside and worked with the features they want as well as produce nice visuals,so they chose an AMD 7790 GPU,paired with a jaguar CPU which consist of 2 blocks of 4 cores,+ ESRAM,sound block ,DME,encoders,decoders.
Now this GPU is very close to the 7850 on its full form,but the xbox one version instead of 14 CU and 1007mhz it would have 12 CU,2 reserve for redundancy,in the process of APU making not all APU will come with 14 working CU,since it is an early process many of those APU will come with 12 or 13 CU working,so if MS wanted every single APU to come with 14 CU working that would have affect supply and the unit would have face a severe shortage,so MS avoid this by locking up 2 CU and leaving only 12 working,so MS can use any APU that comes with 12,13 or 14, CU units.
Now the speed since consoles are not as heat tolerant as PC are,1007 mhz the 7790 had was to much for the xbox one APU,which already generate more heat because of the extra components,so they decide to drop the speed as well to 800mhz,which they latter up clock to 853mhz,the end result was that instead of having 1.79TF they APU on the xbox only had 1.31TF.
Since MS wanted an all in one box,with cable box,kinect included and all that,they wanted to have certain number of resources to be available only to the system so that the games would not conflict with the os and bring performance of the OS down or the other way around,so a 10% reservation was make from the GPU which bring the total flop performance of the unit to 1.18 TF a far cry from the actual 7790 total which is 1.79tf.
..To Be continue.