In our mini-review of the Xbox One I speculated that the shipping version of Microsoft's console featured 14 AMD GCN CUs (Graphics Core Next Compute Units), with two disabled to improve yields. Microsoft publicly stated that Xbox One development kits featured 14 CUs and Sony similarly had 20 CUs with only 18 enabled with the PS4. With Xbox One hardware in the wild, Chipworks went to task delayering the SoC/APU and confirmed the speculation - the Xbox One does indeed feature 14 CUs (pictured above).

Microsoft claims it weighed the benefits of running 12 CUs (768 cores) at 853MHz vs. 14 CUs (896 cores) at 800MHz and decided on the former. Given that the Xbox One APU only features 16 ROPs and ROP performance scales with clock speed, Microsoft likely made the right decision. Thermal and yield limits likely kept Microsoft from doing both - enabling all CUs and running them at a higher frequency. Chances are that over time Microsoft will phase out the extra CUs, although it may take a while to get there. I'm not sure if we'll see either company move to 20nm, they may wait until 14/16nm in order to realize real area/cost savings which would mean at least another year of shipping 14/20 CU parts at 28nm.

Compared to the PS4's APU, we see a very similar layout. The on-die SRAM sits next to the GPU array, and far away from the CPU, which makes sense given that the latter isn't allowed direct access to the eSRAM. You can very clearly see the tradeoff Microsoft had to make in order to accommodate its eSRAM. The GPU area shrinks considerably.

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  • cjb110 - Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - link

    Though the TV features are currently lacking if you're anywhere but the US, and actually broken if you're in a PAL region, with the 60Hz/50Hz issue.

    Both of these are fixable though.
    Reply
  • Wolfpup - Wednesday, December 4, 2013 - link

    If you can only get one, the one to get would be the one with more exclusive games that you prefer (baring in mind Microsoft's been horrible with that, the past few years with the 360).

    If you're neutral, or care more about third party games, PS4 is considerably more powerful and PS4 versions of games will always look or run better.
    Reply
  • bill5 - Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - link

    "Superior design" meaning what?

    The Xbone design basically enabled DDR3 instead of GDDR5, which is significant cost savings.

    People just dont see that because XB1's $100 more expensive. But if you check the P&L statements, you'll see Sony is very good at losing money and MS is pretty good at making it. XB1 is likely already profitable while PS4 is probably losing some money at launch. Plus of course, the XB1 includes an extra expense in Kinect.

    I bet MS could rip Kinect out, swallow a few losses like Sony is already doing, and sell XB1 for 299 right now. at that point they'd kill PS4 in sales and you'd start to understand the positives of XB1 design. No it apparently cant stand up to PS4 in raw power, but like past MS consoles (such as the 360 which equaled PS3 in power despite a year headstart, or the Xbox 2001 which destroyed PS2 in power), it's likely smartly and efficiently designed.

    In a few years the ESRAM will be shrinking nicely, but the GDDR5 vs DDR3 cost discrepancy favoring XB1 will remain forever. whether MS chooses to pass the savings enabled by the design on to consumers or just line Bill Gates swimming pool with more dollars is a different matter.

    Long story short, while I disagree with MS's general strategy here and would have preferred a more powerful system, I like the XB1 design for what it is, it's "close enough" to PS4 that it will get every port with visual differences the average joe will never, ever notice, and one could argue that that's really all Microsoft needs in the power department. Remember PS2 vs XBOX? PS2 trounced despite I'm guessing a much more significant power gap than what exists between XB1 and PS4 (for example, Xbox had twice as much RAM as PS2).
    Reply
  • Andromeduck - Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - link

    kinect is estimated at $75

    the console + controller package is more expensive, larger and cost more than the PS4's and all for a HDMI passthrough and 8GB flash?

    lol
    Reply
  • 0ldman79 - Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - link

    I agree, the XBox One is good enough for the general user. I'm sure that the majority of the people out there will claim it looks better than the PS4, regardless of anything else.

    I disagree about the DDR3 vs GDDR5 price difference. Just look at the memory market right now, if anything adding in the production numbers of the PS4 the cost of GDDR5 will go down.
    Reply
  • darkfalz - Saturday, November 30, 2013 - link

    From the little I've seen it seems many PS4 games are running at 1080p while the XBone version is in many cases running at 720p - if you think that's not noticible (particilarly on a 50+ inch TV) then you're crazy. 720p looks like garbage on my 55" TV. Still, I'm excited because the quality of console ports is surely to improve (last few years of upscaled 720p and/or 30 FPS locked console ports for PC has really been a trying time). Reply
  • Wolfpup - Wednesday, December 4, 2013 - link

    The estimates I've seen, both cost slightly less to make than they're sold for. When you factor in the store's cut and all the other expenses, both would be losing money. Reply
  • ivan256 - Friday, December 6, 2013 - link

    "But if you check the P&L statements, you'll see Sony is very good at losing money and MS is pretty good at making it."

    This may be true, but they aren't making that money on XBox. They've lost over a billion dollars on it, and there is investor pressure to spin it off.
    Reply
  • LordConrad - Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - link

    I'm staying away from the XBox this round for two reasons: I only use consoles for gaming so I have no interest in Microsoft's vision of controlling my living room, and I don't really care for the XBox exclusive games. The software of both consoles will improve over time but the hardware is set for the next 7-10 years, and Sony has the best gaming hardware this time around.

    Don't complain XBox fans, you just had your turn. The 360 was much loved by game developers because the CPU and Unified Memory made it much easier to program.
    Reply
  • BehindEnemyLines - Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - link

    What's there to complain? Most people who buy the XB1 already know its graphical capability is less than the PS4 based on the released specifications. I am more interested in the XB1 because it has entertainment capabilities that match more for my use case. I'll wait for Rev 2 of the XB1 before jumping in.

    Honestly, having a console sitting there idling doesn't make sense to me. Looking at what Ryse is able to do with 900p/30fps and 85,000 poly without LOD is amazing, so it appears to me, at least, to be more than capable for the next 7-10 years. And that's for an at-launch game, so I am sure more amazing graphics will come next year.
    Reply

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