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Xbox One exec: Hardware specs are "meaningless"

Xbox product planning boss downplays PS4/Xbox One comparisons

Head-to-head comparisons of the next generation consoles by Digital Foundry previously had the Xbox One at a slight deficiency compared to its rival, the PlayStation 4. In an interview with OXM, Xbox senior director of product planning Albert Penello said that hardware comparisons between the two consoles was "meaningless" and games are the real differentiator.

"The problem is that Sony decided to go out and publish a bunch of numbers, which are in some ways meaningless," Penello told OXM. "Because this isn't like 1990, when it was 16-bit versus 32-bit. For me, I'd rather not even have the conversation, because it's not going to matter."

"The box is going to be awesome. The games are going to be awesome. I heard this exact same argument last generation and it's a pointless argument, because people are debating things which they don't know about. They're not [head silicon engineer] Nick Baker or [corporate vice president of IEB hardware Todd Holmdahl], and I'm not [lead PS4 architect] Mark Cerny, so why are we having this discussion?"

Penello said that Microsoft has taken great care to customize the PC-style parts used in the Xbox One, while Sony is proud of the PlayStation 4's cheaper manufacturing cost due to more off-the-shelf parts.

"We touched every single component in the box and everything there is tweaked for optimum performance," he said.

Penello explained that the Xbox One will have all the games players have come to expect alongside the console's new multimedia features.

"Here's what you care about," he said. "You bought a system to play great games and have great experiences. I feel like our games and experiences are going to be every bit as good, if not better, technically - on top of all the magic we're going to add with the instant switching, and the power of the cloud."

Digital Foundry released a new report today that says that the Xbox One may have been underestimated, with production units having a higher memory bandwidth than first advertised.

[Image via Wired]

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Latest comments (30)

Paul Shirley Programmers 3 years ago
"We touched every single component in the box and everything there is tweaked for optimum performance," he said.

Or did he mean "We added lots of fast memory transfer hardware to fill over the lacklustre actual memory bandwidth", hardware you'll have to learn to use just like every previous console generation. If it's easier to programme the PS4 painting go faster stripes on XBone won't help it.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.3 years ago
I am detecting some serious irony here given their stance since the first Xbox (or DirectX Box as it was initially known).

Once they lose the spec race suddenly specs don't matter.

Now this isn't to say that I don't agree with him because I do but It's a damn funny about face that comes off the heels of several about faces the past 2 weeks.
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Kevin Hillary writer/videographer 3 years ago
"Power of the Cloud" that phrase just echoes throughout my head every time i hear Xbox One Tech Comparisons..I'm curious to see how this will pan out. And I'm curious can the same be applied to the PS4.
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Show all comments (30)
Pier Castonguay Programmer 3 years ago
Hardware COMPARISONS between the two consoles is "meaningless" (they are both very very similar). Hardware specs in general are very meaningful. Again, bad article title.
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There was no mention of the hardware resources used by the Os either ... 3GB ram and 3 of the CPU cores for the one for example.

@jim: my thoughts exactly.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd3 years ago
@ Kevin Cloud computing will be pretty awkward I suspect, especially with the online requirement that accompanies it. Either way it's being used as a compensation for a CPU power gap between the devices. The PS4 has little need for it.

@ PIer They aren't that similar. The PS4 has advantages in all 3 "major" components (CPU, GPU, and RAM). In fact when Kinect is in use and draining even more CPU power the PS4 and Xbox One will have a gap not unlike the gap between the Wii U and the Xbox One.
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Xbox senior director of product planning Albert Penello said that hardware comparisons between the two consoles was "meaningless" and games are the real differentiator.
Okay Albert – when was it “meaningless” when your founder launched the Xbox, or the Xbox 360! When did “meaningless” appear in the nomenclature of Microsoft Xbox reporting when your previous executive team reported that “...the X-Box will set a new standard for hardware performance...”

Seems that you guys are floundering at such a rate that you will not need air conditioning in the offices!
Who at management level allows a senior-director to make a statement like that (yet another “deal with it” job ending statement)! Is there anyone managing Xbone marketing at this time?
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 3 years ago
This is like a circular firing squad. With battleships. I predict a lot of getting "to the choppa!" in the weeks to come with a few golden parachutes for the dearly departed...

That, or more business as usual. Bring on the next exec trotting out the claptrap only believable by gamers who see this stuff and take it on face value without a hint of disbelief...
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Barrie Tingle Live Producer, Maxis3 years ago
@Nicholas what CPU power gap? Both the Xbox One and PS4 are using a 1.6GHz 8 Core AMD Jaguar processor.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 3 years ago
@ Barrie

Rumours have been circling for a month now that the XOne's APU is going to be downclocked slightly to compensate for fabrication issues. Though they're still rumours until some tech site gets under the hood in a meaningful fashion.
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Kevin Clark-Patterson Lecturer in Games Development, Lancaster and Morecambe College3 years ago
It's funny that hardware is meaningless when your competitor has the better specs.

I doubt anyone at Microsoft would be so dismissive if the boot was on the other foot so to speak.
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Aleksi Ranta Product Manager - Hardware 3 years ago
If the specs are meaningless then why not continue with the X360 for the foreseeable future? Seeing as the Xbone is mostly only a spec increase, does it mean they are charging us more for meaningless tech? :)
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"The box is going to be awesome. The games are going to be awesome. I heard this exact same argument last generation and it's a pointless argument, because people are debating things which they don't know about. They're not [head silicon engineer] Nick Baker or [corporate vice president of IEB hardware Todd Holmdahl], and I'm not [lead PS4 architect] Mark Cerny, so why are we having this discussion?"
because more than 4 people in the world actually do understand hardware, that's why.. But sure treat everyone as if we are all idiots and be sure to use the word "awesome a lot, that will surely win the day.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Todd Weidner on 29th June 2013 6:40pm

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OK for the MS suits.

The guy/gal who decided to reverse the E3 awesomeness, please continue contributing.

Everyone else, can they please please stop saying anything further - because it just keeps coming out worse and worse for the XBOX brand.
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Gareth Jones Software Engineer (Contract), Cisco Systems3 years ago
It's like when the guy with a tiny penis says, "It's not the size that counts, but what you do with it."
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Antony Carter Senior Programmer, Epic Games3 years ago
They are the same processor, but One will have 3 Operating systems running on theirs not to mention the PS4 has a separate processor for a lot of its background task for downloading and video encoding etc.
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Steven Hodgson Programmer, Code in Progress Ltd3 years ago
i'm not going to join in this heated debate about who has the bigger clock speed. i'm going to agree with the article that primarily, games decide what console I buy. why else would I owned as many consoles as I do if it wasn't just to play that one game that was a platform exclusive. I was content with my ps2 until I wanted to play heavy rain.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Steven Hodgson on 30th June 2013 2:35am

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All I can add is. Yea Yea. lol
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 3 years ago
I am glad comparisons don't matter. Finally we can shut down all gaming magazines, close all gaming websites and just put "It's awesome" stickers on every game in the shelf. Then we dismantle the shelves and sell digitally. One step further, games will no longer be have to created, they are simply sold to you, no need to play them; you can't anyway. Just rest assured they are awesome and tell all your friends so they buy them as well.

When we have done all that, we shall finally understand Albert Penello and live in the same world as him... ..and every video games PR person on the planet for that matter.

I am starting to believe that the platform with the brightest future is the one which treats its adult customers in the most adult fashion. And by that I do not mean beating up hookers with giant dildos.
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This attitude of - "...its great, don't argue!" is suit speak for "...we know best you shut up!"

It was this attitude that saw the "buying" of editorial coverage of games, and the nepotistic attitude to previewing and reviewing. The game media has tried to forget the 'Rise of the Robots' or 'Driver' review scandals - especially as certain journos linked to taking "payment" for the review fiasco are still retained in the media (or now work as PR for publishers!)

Attempts to originally claim that those scandals were one offs and the lessons were learned have also led to the 'Colonial Marines' scandal! and now to a decimation of the magazine universe - the audience disenfranchised and skeptical of all the magazines have to say- reverting to forum and online media. With this collapse in readership we now see the game media become even more "embedded" with the manufactures and publishers - a reason they get to the front of the press launches, and why they seem to buy the publisher "Kool Aid" to the extreme.

First you loose the credibility of the manufacturers, then the publishers, then the credibility of the magazines and finally the credibility of the buying audience - the next step is one that I think you can guess at!
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Lewis Brown Snr Sourcer/Recruiter, Electronic Arts3 years ago
Is a slight difference in hardware power actually going to make a huge difference for the games?, it didn't make a huge diiference for XBOX 360 and PS3 for titles which were produced across both platforms for obvious cross development cost reasons.

Although some of of the PS3 only titles certainly did look prettier.

I am far more interested in content and other factors such as the controller and certainly cost. I won't be choosing one console over the other based on one being slightly more powerful. Its a pretty dead argument to me.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 3 years ago
In the current generation of consoles the Xbox 360 and the PS3 have each sold about 77 million units.
The far less powerful Wii has sold about 100 million units.

It is what the box delivers as entertainment that matters, not what the components inside it are.
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It is what the box delivers as entertainment that matters, not what the components inside it are.
I think you have our agreement on that – the point seems to be, after Microsoft made such a big part of their hype over the years regarding “Performance” - to suddenly say this is “meaningless” strikes me as the greatest hypocrisy since the “deal with it” job ending statement!

The lack of management foresight is breathtaking at this point, and those that have to defend MS are in a very uncomfortable position – may explain the rash of CV's doing the rounds at the moment!
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd3 years ago
If specs are so meaningless why is it widely believed that MS doubled the RAM after Sony's announcement and are now looking to increase the RAM speed?

And woe betide the marketing wonk that asserts that Digital Foundry don't know what they're talking about. OnLive anyone?

I care about not being sold a lower-specced box for a higher price (thank in part to a useless camera no-one wants). I guess that makes me some kind of contrary nerd though.
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Lewis Brown Snr Sourcer/Recruiter, Electronic Arts3 years ago
Specs aren't meaningless, but if the gap isnt huge then will the general public care? probably not, they will be more concerned about the console there friends have and how much it cost.
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John Smith Photographer 3 years ago
M$ has become a joke.
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Christopher Garratty Associate Counsel, Activision Blizzard3 years ago
Areas in which a given entity is ahead are always "key features". Areas in which they are behind are always "meaningless". All depends on which side of the fence you are on.

All I really take from this is that Xbox One specs are probably noticeably lower than PS4 hence the need to call them meaningless.
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Petter Solberg Freelance Writer & Artist, 3 years ago
Can someone do me a favour and fire this guy? Man, I wonder how much time and money is being spent on defending one idiotic statement after another. I agree that the content may be the main thing here, but is there really room for any creativity and imagination besides all this arrogance? Sorry, rant over.
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Petter Solberg Freelance Writer & Artist, 3 years ago
@Kevin: I should write those things more often. Thank you! Joke aside though, I guess this is only the beginning...
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