Microsoft: We Could Have Used Variable Clocks for Xbox Series X, But We’re Not Interested in TFLOPS Numbers

Jun 28, 2020
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We're now just over four months before the launch of the next-generation consoles by Microsoft and Sony, the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5. With the final units still far from our hands, we are left to wonder which of the radically different approaches used by Microsoft and Sony will prove to be more successful.

For example, while Microsoft opted to keep its console's clock rates fixed, Sony went with the bold choice of using variable frequencies for both CPU and GPU, a decision that made the PS5's 10.28 TFLOPs figure feel misleading according to our own colleagues from Hardware as it only refers to the 'best-case scenarios' when there is no downclocking involved.

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In a new interview published on Spanish site Xataka, Director of Program Management for Xbox Series X Jason Ronald said that Microsoft could have easily used the same approach to reach a higher theoretical TFLOPS figure, but that would have made it harder for developers to optimize their games.

We focus on optimizing the developer experience to deliver the best possible experience for players, rather than trying to 'hunt' down certain record numbers. We've always talked about consistent and sustained performance.

We could have used forced clocks, we could have used variable clock rates: the reality is that it makes it harder for developers to optimize their games even though it would have allowed us to boast higher TFLOPS than we already had, for example. But you know, that's not the important thing. The important thing is the gaming experiences that developers can build.

The Microsoft executive also suggested that the mere I/O speed of the Xbox Series X (which is inferior to that of the PlayStation 5, according to the official specifications) doesn't tell the full story.

Things go beyond the numbers that we may or may not share. Sampler Feedback Streaming (SMS) allows us to load textures and makes the SSD drive act as a multiplier of physical memory that adds to the memory that the machine itself has.

We also have a new API called Direct Storage that gives us low-level direct access to the NVMe controller so that we can be much more efficient in managing those I / O operations.

It will be some time before we get to see for ourselves which approach proved to be more fruitful. Still, until then, stay tuned on Wccftech for insights on the upcoming next-gen consoles by Microsoft and Sony.

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