Microsoft Unlocks Extra Xbox One CPU Power
Newer games have a little more CPU headroom to play with, reveals a recent leak of the Xbox One SDK.On paper, Sony's PlayStation 4 (PS4) has a performance edge on the Xbox One from Microsoft, despite sharing a similar "Jaguar" system-on-chip (SoC) architecture from Advanced Micro Devices. A recent leak from the Xbox One's November 2014 software development kit (SDK) from hacking group H4LT revealed that game developers can now dip into the added computational resources provided by a newly unlocked processor core, potentially narrowing the gap between the rival gaming console platforms. According to a Jan. 5 Forbes report, two of the Xbox One's eight CPU cores are reserved for the underlying operating system. Now, Microsoft is enabling developers to leverage 50 to 80 percent of one of those cores, improving performance. The extra headroom arrives in the wake of Microsoft's decision to offer a lower-priced version of the console without the Kinect motion sensor, matching the PS4's retail price of $399. "This connects to what we already know about the Kinect, that a certain amount of CPU power was tied up for the operations of the peripheral, and now that it's optional, that gives more leeway to developers," wrote Forbes' Paul Tassi. In June, Microsoft began offering a new base Xbox One model that did away with the Kinect controller, which was formerly issued with each and every Xbox One.
As expected, developers will have to contend with some trade-offs, particularly if their projects involve voice or gesture-based commands. "Firstly, developers need to give up custom, game-specific voice commands in order to access the seventh core at all, while Kinect's infra-red and depth functionality is also disabled," noted Eurogamer's Richard Leadbetter in his analysis of the leaked SDK.