Microsoft to boost Xbox One specs ahead of launch to compete with PS4

Tweaks to the firmware will eke an extra 53MHz in clock speed from the AMD GPU

James Vincent
Saturday 03 August 2013 08:39
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Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios, speaks during the Xbox E3 Media Briefing at USC's Galen Center in Los Angeles, California June 10, 2013. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios, speaks during the Xbox E3 Media Briefing at USC's Galen Center in Los Angeles, California June 10, 2013. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Microsoft will boost the clock speed of the Xbox One’s GPU ahead of its November launch. The slight tweak will raise the AMD graphic processor from 800 to 853MHz.

Microsoft corporate vice president Marc Whitten revealed the news in a podcast with Larry Hryb, aka Major Nelson – a long time Xbox spokesman and Director of Programming.

"Since E3, an example is that we've dropped in what we internally call our mono driver,” said Whitten. “It's our graphics driver that really is 100 per cent optimised for the Xbox One hardware. You start with the base driver, and then you take out all parts that don't look like Xbox One and you add in everything that really optimises that experience.”

"This is the time where we've gone from the theory of how the hardware works--what do we think the yield is going to look like, what is the thermal envelope, how do things come together--to really having them in our hands. That's the time where you start tweaking the knobs.”

“Either your theory was right dead on, or you were a little too conservative, or you were a little too aggressive. It's actually been really good news for us, and an example of that is we've tweaked up the clock speed on our GPU from 800mhz to 853mhz."

Some commentators have viewed this as an attempt to close the graphics gap between the Xbox and the PS4, though the change is so minimal that it still leaves Sony’s console ahead in terms of raw power.

Having said this, although the PS4 has the edge when it comes to memory bandwidth and system memory, the similarities in architecture mean that the two will perform pretty similar until developers get a hang of what Sony's console might offer on top.

PCWorld have given what is probably a more accurate analysis, with Jared Newman that this is still good news for potential Xbox owners, but not because of the boost to power:

“What the change does mean is that the console won't be plagued by the same yield issues as the Xbox 360. In other words, the ‘red ring of death’ fiasco that haunted Microsoft for years after launch probably won't be coming back with the Xbox One.”

According to recent leaks, the Xbox one will be released in the UK on November 29th, with the PS4 landing on December 13th.

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