There’s a strong rumor going around that Microsoft is considering underclocking Xbox One. A discussion born about from a NeoGAF Kinect thread quickly turned into a discussion about how some of the forum posters have heard that the GPU clock of Microsoft’s brand new console was getting a downgrade. The conversation quickly prompted several members of the forum to slowly come out and say that they’ve heard a similar thing with several insiders confirming the rumor, but no sources were named.
Much of the discussion talked about how the new GPU would only run at 800 to 900 teraflops. In layman’s parlance, teraflops are units of measurement of computing capacity which describe the number of operations –mathematical or otherwise–on floating-point numbers (read: numbers with decimals) a processor can perform in one second. In gaming terms, this means a difference between a game running at 30fps and one that’s running at 60fps, or a game that’s running at 720p rather than 1080p. For the record, Microsoft previously claimed that the Xbox One will do 1.23 teraflops. By comparison, the PlayStation 4 can to do 1.84 teraflops according to Sony.
So would Microsoft underclocking the Xbox One have any benefit on the performance of the device in the end? One forum poster claims that it’s related to an unconfirmed news bit that the company is running into problems with eSRAM production, the part of the processor which allows the system to cache information on the die itself. Microsoft talked about how this embedded memory would help alleviate the memory bandwidth concerns developers have with the Xbox One by providing some sort of way to preload information that’s about to be used by the system on the processor itself. As it turns out, this also causes the processor architecture to be a bit more complicated and production yields can have a higher failure rate. The amount of stuff Microsoft packed in the processor can also mean that heat issues would be a major sticking point, and we know that the company is trying to avoid a new generation of RRoDs.
So why scramble to do this now? Couldn’t a lot of these issues have been alleviated early on in the system’s development cycle? Additional rumors say that by the time of the PlayStation Meeting in February, the Xbox One was still behind in terms of finalizing its operating system and final hardware. The rumors also suggest that the way that Microsoft chose to unveil the Xbox One was a way to mask a lot of the inner politicking that was going on with the system, instead focusing on features that were not game centric, along with the decision to display the hardware chassis rather than talking straight about the specifications during the event. This was possibly done to help buy more time for these details to be finalized by the time E3 2013 rolls around.
On the other end of the aisle Sony’s production of GDDR5 chips, which was a big gamble by the company, is working and their production schedules are on track for a Fall/Winter release. Additionally, a trusted source close to Gamer Horizon revealed that both Sony and Microsoft are aiming for a $449.99 sticker price for both platforms and that a window of late October/early November is being explored by both companies.