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Microsoft focusing on developer experience rather than higher TFLOP number for Xbox Series X
By Neil Soutter on June 29th, 2020 at 02:30pm - original article from game-debate

The next-gen consoles are just around the corner, or at least we think they are, there still isn’t a definitive release date yet apart from “Holiday 2020”. Either way, many of us are getting excited about the prospects of a brand new PlayStation or Xbox console, and many more have been debating for a while which one will be the most powerful.

Microsoft for instance opted for fixed CPU and GPU clock speeds, whilst Sony opted for variable frequencies instead. In a recent interview with Jason Ronald, the Director of Program Management for the Xbox Series X, it was revealed that Microsoft could have opted for variable speeds in order to reach higher TFLOP figures than the staggering 12 TFLOPS for the XSX, but that makes it harder for developers to develop and optimize their games.

We focus on optimizing the developer experience to deliver the best possible experience for players, rather than trying to 'hunt' down certain record numbers. We've always talked about consistent and sustained performance.

We could have used forced clocks, we could have used variable clock rates: the reality is that it makes it harder for developers to optimize their games even though it would have allowed us to boast higher TFLOPS than we already had, for example,” he continued. “The important thing is the gaming experiences that developers can build.

But numbers aren’t just as they seem, most of the time other factors are in play which affect performance and don’t tell the full story. For example, PlayStation 5’s I/O speed is a lot better than the Xbox Series X’s according to the official specifications, but Ronald explains that:

Things go beyond the numbers that we may or may not share. Sampler Feedback Streaming (SMS) allows us to load textures and makes the SSD drive act as a multiplier of physical memory that adds to the memory that the machine itself has.

We also have a new API called Direct Storage that gives us low-level direct access to the NVMe controller so that we can be much more efficient in managing those I / O operations.

Numbers, numbers, blah blah blah, is what it seems like at the moment. Whilst numbers can give us a general sense of what to expect, other factors can contribute to performance a lot more and thus we can’t really rely on just numbers like TFLOPS alone, so we’ll just have to wait and see when the consoles officially come out.

The PlayStation 5's 10.3 TFLOPS for instance are not exactly representative of the overall performance, as those variable clock speeds mean that is the best case scenario figure when no downclocking is involved.

What do you think? Are performance numbers like TFLOPS useful for next-gen consoles? Or are they redundant? And which console do you think will come out on top? Let us know!