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Microsoft to boost Xbox One GPU performance by making Kinect optional


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The Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 have a lot in common when it comes to hardware. In fact, the specs are almost identical, save for the GPU where the PS4 holds the clear advantage. When these consoles were still the “next generation,” it was debatable how much impact that difference would have. Now that the next gen has become the current one, Sony looks to be in a very good place — some of the cross-platform launch titles look better and are running at higher frame rates on the PS4. Microsoft is reportedly swinging into action with a patch to give the Xbox One’s graphics a little boost at the expense of Kinect.


At the heart of both the PS4 and Xbox One is a semi-custom AMD APU. This 28nm part features an 8-core Jaguar CPU and a Radeon 7000-series GPU. The Xbox’s GPU is similar to the Bonaire core from the Radeon HD 7790, an entry-level PC graphics processor. The PS4, meanwhile, is rocking the mid-range Pitcairn core like you’d find in a Radeon HD 7870. Even though the Xbox One GPU is clocked a little higher, it can’t keep up with the PS4 in terms of raw power.

To make matters worse, game developers working on the Xbox One are coding with one hand tied behind their backs. Microsoft requires that all games reserve 10% of the GPU’s capacity for the Kinect, even if the game doesn’t use it. That’s split up into 8% for the Kinect video features and 2% for Kinect voice. In an effort to give a boost to its console, Microsoft is expected to issue a system patch that removes the requirement that games save that 8% for Kinect video.

By reducing the horsepower dedicated to Kinect, Microsoft might be able to realize frame rate improvements immediately after the system is patched. In one recent embarrassment, the frame rate of the new Tomb Raider title was found to be only 30 fps on the Xbox, but 60 fps on the PS4. This is something that an 8% bump in GPU power could help with.


Since frame rate is an average measurement, the Xbox One might only be hitting 20 frames for a short time when heavily taxed, but could shoot up to 40 or 50 fps when there’s less going on. Those times when the frame rate drops will stand out because it gets close to the edge of what our brains perceive as fluid movement. The PS4, way up there at a 60fps average has considerably more breathing room. Even squeezing just 8% more out of the GPU could help the Xbox keep the frame rate out of the danger zone.

This is one of those “every little bit” situations. While an extra 8% of GPU performance isn’t going to bring the Xbox One to parity with the PS4, developers can still do some amazing things with limited resources. Games tend to become more advanced the longer each console generation drags on. If the Xbox is already having issues keeping up with launch titles, Microsoft might be in for a bumpy ride. Pulling a little more GPU power from the Kinect is a smart move, but it’s little more than a stopgap.


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Its not rocket science- the less you have running, the more resources you have!

No need to have that stupid cam running ( and spying on you) 24/7

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