Although mere percentages, these improvements may matter in the long run.
Ever since the Xbox One SDK Documentation was leaked, a lot of fascinating information has poured out. Microsoft have been consistently improving the console’s performance by releasing monthly updates to their SDK. We recently uncovered a few new technicalities about the console’s architecture such as 8 Graphics Contexts which are all available to games, a 7th CPU core which can now be accessed by developers, reduced CPU cost of rendering and improvements to graphics drivers.
However there is more interesting information in the documentation pertaining the Xbox One GPU. It seems that Microsoft have been consistently the console’s GPU performance. In the July 2014 update, the GPU performance was improved by 3.5% which saw benefits such as shaders were automatically pre-fetched by the GPU thereby eliminating shader stalls. However this improvement depends on the game’s workload so the performance gain might vary depending on the game.
In August 2014, Microsoft once again improved the GPU performance by 1.3% which bought in benefits such as reduction in the GPU Command Processor and lower overhead driver synchronization. In the same update, DDR3’s bandwidth was improved by 1.5% which has helped titles that faced uneven bursts at 30hz and would have affected 60 fps titles.
The September SDK saw Microsoft fixing GPU Performance counter issues wherein the counter won’t match with the Xbox One hardware. It’s intriguing to see Microsoft carrying out these changes to the console’s GPU, a component that is weaker compared to the PlayStation 4.
But there is still a long way to go before these optimizations bring in substantial gains as far as GPU specific processes are concerned. One prime example is Grand Theft Auto 5 wherein the Xbox One version lacks dense foliage and lens effects, something which is present on the PS4 due to its more powerful GPU. 2015 seems to be an exciting year for multi-platforms game releases so we will definitely test to see whether these optimizations have helped the console in the long term. Stay tuned.