NEWS - Friday, June 10, 2005

Xbox 360 As Fast As PS3

Numbers - the public loves them. Bigger equals better. It's one of the reasons Xbox 360 is called Xbox 360 rather than Xbox 2. Stack an Xbox 2 next to a PS3 on a shop shelf, and which is you average punter going to think is better? And this is similarly the case with Xbox 360 and PS3 graphical core speeds, reckons ATi - but we shouldn't allow ourselves to be blinded by what's written down on paper. Xbox 360's Xenos graphical core runs at MHz. PS3's nVidia-developed RSX graphical core runs at MHz. However, ATi's Richard Huddy, whose job is talking to developers about the company's technology, says that the Xbox 360's unique graphical architecture quite capably makes up for the apparent shortfall between the two core speeds. "That mere 10% clock speed that RSX has on Xenos is easily countered by the unified shader architecture that we've implemented," is the word from Huddy in an interview with website Dipping further into technical details, Huddy says that "Rather than separate pixel and vertex pipelines, we've created a single unified pipeline that can do both. Providing developers throw instructions at our architecture in the right way, Xenos can run at 100% efficiency all the time, rather than having some pipeline instructions waiting for others." He highlights high-end PC power in comparison, saying that high-end PC chips typically run at between 50% and 60% efficiency. has also questioned Huddy on how the two next-gen consoles' CPU architecture will affect general brute grunt and graphical power. His response is that, while PS3 with seven Cell cores appears to have considerable CPU power, the real bottleneck lies in the graphical side of things. Huddy talks about the current trend in the CPU world of going "multi-threaded and multi-core" (think CPU's processing things very, very fast; Xbox 360 has three PowerPC cores, incidentally), saying that while "writing multi-threaded apps for two or three cores is difficult... Doing it for seven separate cores, when the main core has a slightly different feature-set from the other six, is very, very difficult." Or in other words, PS3 presents developers with a far more difficult challenge than Xbox 360. Huddy also reckons that because PS3's RSX graphical core isn't unified - i.e. it doesn't feature unified vertex and pixel pipelines - "PS3 will almost certainly be slower and less powerful." Potential corporate willy waving aside, at the end of the day does power really matter, or is it more about the gameplay offered by videogames featuring on the machines? Or does more brute processing power equal better gameplay? As ever, our forums are open for discussion below.


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