The PS4 will be 33 percent faster than the Xbox One


On the graphics side it’s once again obvious that Microsoft and Sony are shopping at the same store as the Xbox One’s SoC integrates an AMD GCN based GPU. Here’s where things start to get a bit controversial. Sony opted for an 18 Compute Unit GCN configuration, totaling 1152 shader processors/cores/ALUs. Microsoft went for a far smaller configuration: 768 (12 CUs).

Microsoft can’t make up the difference in clock speed alone (AMD’s GCN seems to top out around 1GHz on 28nm), and based on current leaks it looks like both MS and Sony are running their GPUs at the same 800MHz clock. The result is a 33% reduction in compute power, from 1.84 TFLOPs in the PS4 to 1.23 TFLOPs in the Xbox One. We’re still talking about over 5x the peak theoretical shader performance of the Xbox 360, likely even more given increases in efficiency thanks to AMD’s scalar GCN architecture (MS quotes up to 8x better GPU performance) – but there’s no escaping the fact that Microsoft has given the Xbox One less GPU hardware than Sony gave the PlayStation 4. Note that unlike the Xbox 360 vs. PS3 era, Sony’s hardware advantage here won’t need any clever developer work to extract – the architectures are near identical, Sony just has more resources available to use.

This isn’t an advantage that will show up four years down the road when developers have figured out how to program for the PS4. Their architectures are nearly identical – Sony just went with faster parts. 

What readers are looking to get from video game reviews

Mammon-Machine – The Case for Never Talking About AAA Games:

What the readers are looking for is also very different. They are not reading because they are curious about this game they have never heard of. They have been already told by a multi-million advertising budget exactly what their emotional response to the game should be and are mostly looking for validation of that feeling. That’s not to say readers of AAA game reviews are completely uncritical, just that they’re generally not going to think outside of the promises the ad campaign made. If the ad campaign says something and doesn’t deliver that’s a problem, but it’s not very common for an audience to actually be interested in questions like “well I don’t even know if this concept is interesting in the first place…” because they’re already interested because they watched all the trailers and previews. More to the point, they already know how the game is supposed to play and what’s it about: the only thing they don’t know is how it actually works in practice.

One of the major problems of video game journalism is that writers want to talk about the intellectual and moral issues that games touch upon, while readers just want to know if AAA games live up to the hype or not. Based on this premise, the Mammon Machine makes a pretty good case for video game writers to simply skip talking about AAA titles altogether.

Gabe of Penny Arcade on the Surface Pro tablet

Microsoft surface pro

Penny Arcade:

As a mobile solution for a digital artist I’d say the Surface Pro is a winner. Now obviously if you need Photoshop you will probably want to wait until they get their driver issues worked out. If you’re a Sketchbook user (or you could be) then this thing is ready to go right now. I had some people on Twitter asking if the Surface Pro makes sense as an alternative to a Cintiq at home or the office. That one is harder for me to answer. I personally really like my Cintiq 24HD and I would not use the Surface pro at the office instead of it. With that said, if I had about a grand to spend and I was looking at a Cintiq, I’d say the Surface Pro is a much better purchase than the12WX Cintiq. The 64gb Surface Pro and the 12” Cintiq are about the same price but with the Surface, not only are you getting a fantastic drawing tablet that you can take with you wherever you go, it’s also a fucking computer!

This is probably the most positive thing that I’ve read about the Surface. It makes sense, really – he needs a tablet that lets him do digital artwork with the fewest hassles possible. The tech press is looking for a general purpose device that will replace their tablet/laptop (it doesn’t help that it’s priced somewhere in between what most people pay for those two kinds of devices).

As Gabe points out, for someone looking into buying a high-end drawing device like a Cintiq, the Surface Pro is a steal. After all, you also basically get a laplet/tabtop (because we need more stupid terms like phablet) thrown in for free.

The problem is that Microsoft is trying to sell this as a mainstream device like the MacBook Air or the iPad. At its current price point, I don’t think its compromises make it appealing to people looking to buy a device at either end of that spectrum.

Minecraft made $90 million in profit last year

minecraft mojang

The Big Money Behind Hit Game Minecraft – Digits – WSJ:

Mojang has sold more than 20 million copies of Minecraft, which runs across modern smartphones, Xbox Live and standard PCs. Sales happen digitally rather than through brick-and-mortar stores like GameStop.

This has proved very good business for Mojang, located on a side street in Stockholm. Last year the company made about $90 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization on revenue of $235 million, according to people familiar with the matter and since confirmed by the company.

That is an amazing sum – $3 million in profit per employee. Working at Mojang must be pretty sweet.

Valve and Xi3 unveil ‘Piston’ game console

From Polygon:

Xi3 brought an early version of Piston to CES, but was tight lipped on details about the hardware currently in development with Valve. Xi3 chief marketing officer David Politis told Polygon that Piston will offer up to 1 TB of interal storage and offer modular component updates, including the option to upgrade the PC’s CPU and RAM.

Xi3 wouldn’t discuss price for Piston, but commented that the Steam Box is based on its “performance level” X7A offering, which is priced at $999. Xi3 declined to comment on what would differentiate Piston hardware-wise from a standard X7A.

Xi3 also offers the entry level X5A, which is priced at $499 with a Linux operating system.

Unfortunately it appears that the announcement brought down the Xi3 homepage for now. A quick Google search found this PR release from a few months back detailing the specs of the X7A, which the Piston will be based on:

A quad-core 64-bit, x86-based 32nm processor running at up to 3.2GHz (with 4MB of Level2 Cache),
* An integrated graphics processor (GPU) containing up to 384 programmable graphics cores (or shaders),
* 4GB-8GB of DDR3 RAM,
* 64GB-1TB of internal solid-state SSD storage (with up to 12Gbps throughput speeds),
Three display ports providing maximum resolution of 4096×2160 (including 1 DisplayPort v1.2 and * 2 Mini-DisplayPorts v1.2),
* Four eSATAp 3.0 ports,
* Four USB 3.0 ports,
* Four USB 2.0 ports,
* 1Gb Ethernet port, and
* Three audio ports (1 input and 2 outputs: 1 copper and 1 optical).

By the time this comes out, better-looking Mac Minis equipped with Haswell quad-cores will be out and selling for $800 and have greater compatibility with games on Steam. I don’t see how this thing does well.