‘How long before it is a problem?’
The Xbox One Scorpio is, according to leaks, going to not have eSRAM, the problem child of the Xbx One hardware that is present on standard consoles. In the first year of the Xbox One, the eSRAM was largely considered as a bottleneck, made game development quite tough and was the reason behind the console’s lack of full 1080p games. The removal of eSRAM from Project Scorpio is a good move from Microsoft- but the problem is that the Scorpio is supposed to maintain memory parity with the standard Xbox One hardware configuration. So how will developers manage their games in such a situation?
That was one of the questions we asked Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock, when we had a chance to chat with him recently. Wardell seems to agree with us, noting that this push for parity and backwards compatibility is an issue, and that for developers, it will be best if Microsoft’s APIs can translate the code for the absence or presence of eSRAM themselves.
‘The Xbox One out of the box, the memory speed is not super fast, it doesn’t have any serious dedicated graphics memory,’ Wardell said. ‘I think it has 32MB of eSRAM in there. The PS4 has 8GB of GDDR5 in there. And so that makes it really hard for the Xbox One to have the same kind of graphics fidelity that the PS4 does right out of the box. Now Scorpio addresses much of that, but the question is, if I have to make my game run on the basic Xbox One, well that’s- how far can the difference in capability be before it’s actually kind of a problem?
‘It’s that memory speed issue… on the one hand, it’s a great thing they’re doing it, on the other, it’s that backwards compatibility thing. One has eSRAM, the other does not- then, if I’m a developer, I’m hoping that the OS takes care of that, instead of me having to work separately for each.’
Brad makes a ton of sense here. The question of compatability across two sets of hardware is possibly going to be a challenge for game developers and Brad’s suggestion of handling that at an OS level will definitely help developers maintain compatability. Microsoft probably already has a guideline on this for developers and we are eager to see how they will use it.
Stay tuned for our full interview with Bradwell in the coming days. We have a lot to talk across a wide range of topics which includes the current state of DirectX 12, Vulkan and the company’s current games line-up. For further reading, check out Brad’s thoughts on the iterative console model here.