The Xbox One’s Insides Have Changed A Little Bit Since E3

The Xbox One’s Insides Have Changed A Little Bit Since E3

The Xbox One we saw at E3 isn’t quite the Xbox One the team at Microsoft has in their hands right now. They’ve been making a few tweaks to the system, Xbox exec Marc Whitten shared on Major Nelson’s podcast today.

Whitten covered a few other updates on the internal status of the Xbox One. The closer they’re getting to launch, Whitten says, the more they’ve got this machine nailed down. So here are a few updates on where August is finding them.

Graphics and the machine

The highlights here: Whitten says they’ve got a driver they’ve built specific to the Xbox One. It’s 100 per cent optimised for it, he says. That, and they’ve managed to up the clock speed on the GPU.

Here’s Whitten:

Since E3 we’ve dropped in what we internally call our “mono driver.” It’s our graphics driver that really is 100% optimised for the Xbox One hardware.

You start with the base DX driver and you take out all parts that don’t look like Xbox One and you add in everything that really, really optimizes that experience. Almost all of our content partners have picked it up now.

This is the time where we’ve gone from 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 because either your theory was right dead-on or you were a little too conservative or you were a little too aggressive.

An example that’s actually been really good news for us, an example of that is we’ve tweaked up our clock speed on the GPU from 800 MHz to 853 MHz. Just an example of how you really start landing the program as you get closer to launch.

It’s just an example where we really get close to the final performance envelope of how the box works and really making sure we have a great product for our developers to build great games against.

What does that mean for Xbox One versus PS4? Well, according to John Carmack, the two consoles are closely matched in terms of power. So maybe not much, though he hasn’t done extensive benchmarking on the two.


Not much is new here, but Whitten does give a few more details to put their new Smart Match system into context. And he explains what asynchronous matching means on the Xbox One.

We’re really getting into our ability to rethink how we do matching to make sure you get into the matches that you want and that game developers really have the ability to tailor those around both your skill — which has always been something we’ve spent a lot of time on — but also a lot of other factors. Like types of people you like to play with, types of matches you like to play in, and being able to really bound that up into a really great system and then through the power of Xbox One be able to do asynchronous matching.

Typically what happens on Xbox 360 is you go into matchmaking, you sit around a lobby, you wait for things to fill up…but you’re sitting not playing a game. So the question is why can’t you be running the matches that you like that are really tailored around you and something the title developers really highlighted as a really cool mode always in the background so that whenever you’re ready there’s a match there that’s waiting for you. That there’s always more matches so that we can shrink the amount of time of not playing and replace it with really, really great gameplay because you’re matched in a great way. And that’s what asynchronous matching allows you. It allows you to be doing it both in the game and to be able to actually be doing something else. Playing another game or doing something else in the dashboard while matchmaking is running on your behalf.

Reputation system

You know that neat-sounding new reputation system that ranks who you are as a player? It’s basically Microsoft’s attempt to make Xbox Live a more pleasurable experience. Here’s Whitten on that feature, where he explains how it’ll tie into the UI on the dashboard:

It’s a great example where, for us, how do we make sure that Xbox Live is a great community. That we reward positive behaviour, that we make it easy for you to get into matches with people with good reputation or that match your reputation and really give the community a voice into that system. And our reputation system is a great example of that.

When you see your gamer card we want you to see your reputation we want you to be able to see the reputation of the people you’re playing with or your friends. We want it to be front and center. We want it to be something you can track, that you understand where you are. Then we also want it to — you know, through smart match — be able to fit back into the system so that it’s a real part of how the system works, end-to-end.

You can listen to the rest of the podcast for more insight into where the team is at with the Xbox One — which is, basically, still testing the internal beta and taking feedback while approaching launch later this year.


  • I think there’s a report that states the PS4 has a raw 40% power advantage still.

    It doesn’t automatically make it “better” but it’s interesting.

    • That’s all based on what little has been revealed about the specifications. There really isn’t enough information about either system to make an accurate assumption about their performance.

      • Um… So more alot ROPS, shaders units, ppes and faster ram is not enough information to guess that there will be a difference… Ok, Im down with that. although digital foundry seem to think its atleast 10fps faster but possibly up to 30fps faster… But then again, what do i know. I mean this extra 53mhz makes all the difference.

        • How about the actual speed of the memory, as well as the size of the memory bus. We also don’t know exactly how much RAM the PS4 will dedicate to its operating system yet. Knowing the amount of ROPS would be nice, do you have a source?


            16 vs 32 rops…

            And lets be honest here, the ps3 was more powerful on paper but iust wasn’t this type of ‘beter’. like the ps4 is better in a way of plug it in and it will run better, the ps3 on the other hand… If a dev pointed it towards mars wile kneeling to the cell, only then would it reveal its secrets.

            The xbox 360 also had a realy advantage when compared to the ps3 when it came to the speed of the eRam and the amount of shades it had more than the ps3, now its the other way around, and its not just 16mb of faster ram, its 8gb and not one or two extra shades but nearly double…

          • Good to know about the ROPS. I understand that what we have seen of the PS4 so far makes it look superior to the Xbone, but there are still a few factors (very few) that could still bring the Xbone out on top in the end. Until both consoles launch we wont know for sure.

            That said, imo the DDR3 memory on the Xbone will likely be a limiting factor five years down the road. I was really surprised when I heard Microsoft had chosen the cheaper option there, though as I said we still don’t know memory speeds. DDR3 at a very high speed might beat GDDR5 if the difference was high enough.

            But I repeat, we wont actually know which is better until launch.

          • 68gb/s vs 176gb/s…
            But the Xbox one has another 32mb or eram that runs at 102gb/s, thats the thing that might even things out a little in the long run.

            I have no doubt that both consoles will probably surprise me and will be good gaming consoles… but I’m just realy disappointed… I for one, was expecting more from Microsoft who were Sony’s equals with the 360 and ps3… but now…

            As a gamer who supports these companies… I feel let down that Microsoft are selling a console for $50-100 more than the ps4, when it has literally got 30-50% less raw power… I mean, If this gen we saw games run lower res and frame rate on ps3, cos that had a couple less shaders and rops… Then how will it be this gen when the ps4 has nearly double? I mean, the ps4’s blu-ray drive is even better than the Xbox one’s… Did MS even try at all?

            I still expect this to be like a big joke and ms are actually just sitting somewhere waiting to surprise us all. Still. Ill buy an Xbox one for its games… Cos im a gamer… And gamers play games.

          • The Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 had significantly different hardware (for the time). Down the line there wasn’t much of a difference between games (except for some of the first party PS3 games). I wonder if it will be the same with this upcoming generation.

            I also get a good feeling inside when I think about how far ahead PC will be in another five years 🙂

          • Pc is always greater… The only problem is that its mostly only got console ports on it. And yes, they were very different. This generation the consoles are very similar, they are the same, the one just has a better gpu…

          • Uh, yeah we know enough about the specs to know which will be better on paper, by 10-40 FPS in game. Eurogamer did a test about it, not taking ROPS into account though.

            At this stage, we know which console will have better HW. Its not going to be like PS3 and 360 were they both had strengths and weaknesses, most of the strengths (Hardware wise) are on one side. it’s you’r choice to decide if that matters to you.

    • Yeah and the ps3 being technologically superior to the Xbox 360 helped how??!?! for Christ sake the Wii outperformed both of them…

  • I like how they are trying to fix most of their mistakes that people didn’t like from E3.
    The sad thing is, that no one will find out about this stuff because it isn’t being plastered everywhere like the “Luls! Xbox 1 DRM! PS4Wins! xD” on every social media site after e3.
    If they want to get the message across to everyone, they need another press event to say: “Hey, we fixed (x), and also (y). Now you can (z)”.

  • Glad to see sturdy hardware changes that were planned from the beginning and not hastily overclocked last second to help against its competition, especially when hardware can easily get hotter and lessen its life span when overclocked… I mean, with all this preparation, we will certainly not see another Red ring situation.

    • who knows… Some of the people may just well be… Someone may be a Computer science guy… Or a games programmer… Or a game dev… You never know thanx to the power of the anonymous interwebs.

      As for me. I grew up building and making pc’s for fun, then started modding and fooling around in engines, now I’m studying game dev / 3d art and programming.. I’d say that I know a little bit about how some of these things work. Obviously not everything… But I graduate at the end of the year and hope to make fun indy games on anything that gamers want the game on…

  • changing the RAM from DDR3 to GDDR5 would have more of an impact. I’m surprised they’re still sticking with that although I guess contracts with suppliers will already be signed up to so they wouldn’t be able to change the order this late into production. Changing clock speeds is all they can really do but that usually has a negligible effect on framerates.

    With the difference in RAM though between the XBone and PS4 what you might see is in particle effects heavy games that the PS4 can process them quicker and loading times will be quicker

    • I remember when I was deciding on buying a GPU a few years back and I was comparing a gddr3 vs gddr 5 card. Same card, just different memory speeds…

      In the end the Gddr5 card could reach 60fps and the gddr3 card could only do 45fps… Now I’m not saying that will be the same thing here… But that was the case with that card, and I’ve never rely looked at a gddr3 gpu since then.

    • The XboxOne hardware would have been finalised AT LEAST 12 months ago. It does take a considerable amount of time to build a few million consoles.
      About three to four years of development and 12 to 24 months of production. Theres millions of XboxOne consoles sitting in a factory right now, packed, wrapped and ready to ship.

      Three months until release. Theyre about ready to load onto containers and start shipping any day now.

  • IF and I say IF PS4 n XB1 have identical performance stats I’m still getting PS4 because its Japanese. I haven’t bought a western console in my life and also my Asian friends pressured me to buy a PS4.

  • This is exactly what I feared when I heard they will bundle Kinect, I knew 100% the consoles performance was compromised in order to meet the price point.

    Finding out that the Kinect almost costs as much as the Xbox One itself is crazy to the point
    that Microsoft has lost the plot.
    The Xbox One should have had the best components and best performance obtainable
    to meet the $500 mark as a gaming console.

    Kinect should be an optional extra as it has already been proven to be a gimmick with average or below average game reviews.

    Why should I pay for something I would never use, I am also deeply concerned about privacy issue.

    They could also work with the Oculus Rift and bring that to XBox One something that GAMERS
    would be interested in.

    Death to Kinect.

    • I’m getting both consoles for their diversity, I don’t care which console wins. Being so obsessed with a device like kinect is not healthy. Have an organic apple.

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