ESRAM brings in the right balance for power and performance.
Sony have been praised by several developers for their decision to include of 8GB of GDDR5 RAM in their upcoming next generation console, the PlayStation 4. The faster memory apparently gives more budget to developers to render out high resolution textures and free up other resources. Microsoft opted for 8GB DDR3 RAM for the Xbox One but according to them the on board ESRAM will provide the right balance of bandwidth and power.
According to Nick Baker, who looks after the Xbox One’s architecture team believes that GDDR5 is uncomfortable to work with and ESRAM gives the Xbox One the right balance for bandwidth and power consumption.
“In terms of getting the best possible combination of performance, memory size, power, the GDDR5 takes you into a little bit of an uncomfortable place. Having ESRAM costs very little power and has the opportunity to give you very high bandwidth. You can reduce the bandwidth on external memory – that saves a lot of power consumption as well and the commodity memory is cheaper as well so you can afford more. That’s really a driving force behind that. You’re right, if you want a high memory capacity, relatively low power and a lot of bandwidth there are not too many ways of solving that.” he said in an interview with EuroGamer.
However, back in July, the lead architect on the PS4 Mark Cerny defended Sony’s move to include GDDR5 in the PS4 by stating that the latency in GDDR5 isn’t particularly higher than the latency in DDR3. Microsoft have continuously emphasized that they are targeting for ‘balance’ in Xbox One and ESRAM is simply an evolution of the eDRAM found in the Xbox 360 and as such developers will be able to harness the power of Xbox One more efficiently. Ultimately, for the core gamer, the games will matter and both systems will have enough of those at launch. But just like the current generation, it will take a year or two before we start seeing what these expensive toys are clearly capable of.