Close
Are you sure? Are you sure you want to report this comment? I understand, report it. Cancel

Mandatory Kinect was a 10% drain on Xbox One's GPU

Mandatory Kinect was a 10% drain on Xbox One's GPU

Thu 05 Jun 2014 8:41am GMT / 4:41am EDT / 1:41am PDT
Hardware

New dev-kits show significant increase in processing after camera's removal

New development kits for the Xbox One have revealed that mandatory Kinect support was consuming around 10 per cent of the machine's GPU bandwidth. The new kits are the first to be release since Microsoft announced that it will be selling Xbox One without Kinect, which has yet to see a 'must-have' application.

Ever since the motion-sensing, voice activated camera was unbundled from Microsoft's newest console, curiosity has been rife as to what effect it's removal will have on the machine's hardware resources, and how much it was previously held back by the accessory. Last night, Xbox boss Phil Spencer went on record to say that the difference would be palpable.

In order to clarify that the extra wiggle room was a result of the freeing of resources previously dedicated to Kinect processing, Eurogamer enquired with Microsoft about the specifics of Spencer's tweet, receiving the following statement in reply.

"Yes, the additional resources allow access to up to 10 per cent additional GPU performance," a spokesperson responded when asked if the difference was related to the removal of Kinect. "We're committed to giving developers new tools and flexibility to make their Xbox One games even better by giving them the option to use the GPU reserve in whatever way is best for them and their games.

"Just as we're committed to making ongoing system updates for our fans to enjoy new features of Xbox One, we're also committed to giving developers new tools and flexibility to make their Xbox One games even better. In June we're releasing a new SDK making it possible for developers to access additional GPU resources previously reserved for Kinect and system functions.

"In June we're releasing a new SDK making it possible for developers to access additional GPU resources previously reserved for Kinect and system functions"

"The team is continually calibrating the system to determine how we can give developers more capabilities. With this SDK, we will include new options for how developers can use the system reserve as well as more flexibility in our natural user interface reserve (voice and gesture). We'll continue to work closely with developers to help them bring great games to Xbox One."

Whilst the extra bandwidth might not be a generational leap in power, it seems unlikely that too many developers will be wanting to sacrifice it in order to support a relatively unpopular peripheral which is no longer compulsory, especially when Microsoft's machine has already seen some unfavourable hardware comparisons to the PS4. Is this double-blow for Kinect going to prove fatal for the camera? Microsoft undoubtedly hopes not, and presumably has E3 plans in place to prove otherwise, but developers may not see things the same way.

13 Comments

Ged McMillan
Retail Manager

13 5 0.4
So if someone likes the features of Kinect & wants to keep it connected, will software performance be impacted?

Posted:2 months ago

#1

Steve Wetz
Reviewer/Assistant Editor

196 499 2.5
I assumed either the Kinect or the OS itself was the reason that XBox One was underperforming compared to the PS4, despite having almost identical hardware components. Good to know for sure.

Microsoft may feel very strongly about the Kinect, but this is essentially the death knell. Kinect has no killer app - the only reason people bought it originally was because it's new. Then they bought it because they had to. Now they don't have to. And Ged, you make a good point. Say I make a game utilizing all the resources of a Kinect-less XBox One. Do I now have to make sure said game will scale down accordingly for first adopters? Will developers have to include a splash screen warning players to disconnect their Kinects or suffer poor performance? (not exactly good messaging, is it?) And perhaps most importantly, will the XBox One gain performance parity without the Kinect attached?

I'm popping some popcorn now in anticipation. If XBox One still can't hang with the PS4 without the Kinect, Microsoft will have some explaining to do...

Posted:2 months ago

#2

Eric Leisy
VR Production Designer

116 125 1.1
I'm with everything you guys have said - this is a really interesting, and potentially explosive minefield of BS that MS is going towards. I think for most people, the Kinect has basically been a dead end hardware peripheral. As you said, people have purchased it (like myself) because we had to. I admit, that once I was forced to buy it - i was interested, but my curiosity has been fully satiated since my experience with it has been less than impressive. There isn't much about it that doesn't really seem "not gimmicky" or novel. It was kind of fun / useful to yell at the box to turn on and off for a little while, but it doesn't work enough times you just get over using it.

I'm guessing most developers will want that extra 10% of power, since every % counts when you have X amount of bandwidth for your game, so I guess that means we will want to be detaching our kinects.

Which I don't have a huge problem with. :)

Posted:2 months ago

#3

matthew bennion
Web Development

29 29 1.0
It'll make very little difference to the gap between the two. The PS4 still has a 0.53 teraflop advantage over the XBone in the GPU department then we have the RAM difference GDDR5 in the PS4 vs DDR3 in the XBone which pretty much kills the argument dead.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by matthew bennion on 5th June 2014 8:58pm

Posted:2 months ago

#4

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 941 0.7
Honestly good exclusives is what will save it. The differences in performance between microsofts console, PS4 and even PC games is negligable. I love my games in 1080p at 60fps, but it doesnt kill me to be without that. Gameplay features are and playability is what does it for me now a days.

XB1 has one game I want and thats Killer Instinct. Still Im not crazy enough to get the console for just that game. So this E3 they have the opportunity to change my mind.

I think the problem this generation right now are just 2... its not the hardware specs... its game design choices and looking for more efficient ways to simply develope a game. the biggest problem right now is that developers cant seem to get a gaim out fast enough with AAA games demanding at least 3 year production cycles.

Ubi Soft has already an entire virtual studio with Watch dogs. All ingame assets textures and props and set pieces are done, They can use that to tell different stories. No need to build everything from the ground up. I really cant understand to make a sequel from the ground up. Then while the development of 2 or 3 sequels comes along, another team can develope updated assets for a next generation iteration of the game or a new IP.

But anyway... the industry is faced with those two problems. I see hope for bothe XB1 and WiiU if they can churn out good software in less time.

Posted:2 months ago

#5

Ron Dippold
Software/Firmware Engineer

18 67 3.7
Popular Comment
Ged, it's a SDK thing for the game - so when you're at the dashboard, all your normal Kinect controls will still work.

Then when you launch a game, it can decide it doesn't need Kinect and claim the extra system power for itself.

It does mean that if you want Kinect meta-commands like 'Xbox record that' in game it very likely won't work /in that game/.

Basically, it's up to the game to decide whether you get the option.

Posted:2 months ago

#6

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,156 1,076 0.5
Color me confused and amused. Last year, it was all Hypno-Coin out and "KINECT IS WHAT YOU NEEEEEEED..." repeated over and over. And when that didn't work before the launch and now over time, now it's an option that's maaaaaaaybe not so important this year.

Yeesh.

I thought they had people on this, workin' those kinks out, makin' those games that were going to make Kinect a total thing for the FUTURE. Man, I feel let down. I never thought it would work out like it did on paper and in the heads of people trumpeting it as the next big thing, but still...

Welp, VR better be (as the kids say) "the shit" and not flop with users as an everyday experience or else it's going to be another thing deemed not necessary in an even shorter time. Er, once it finally comes to market with Soda Drinker Pro 2015 (or 2016) as the pack in gee-whiz peripheral seller, that is... :D

Posted:2 months ago

#7

Jeff Kleist
Writer, Marketing, Licensing

305 171 0.6
The GPU bits are used for gesture and motion control. The lean in Battlefield 4 for example. The audio processing is mostly done with dedicated chips on the motherboard.

This is entirely software based, all the haters are reporting this incorrectly. This was processing power reserved to make it work, being released. Since no one likes the gesture controls, this is no loss

Posted:2 months ago

#8

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 941 0.7
@greg - You hit the nail on a few things in your comment... totally agree... just sayin'

Posted:2 months ago

#9

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

900 1,330 1.5
Hopefully this means more future games will be able to hit 1080p and 60 fps on a more consistant basis, although that really should have been the case from the start.

Posted:2 months ago

#10

Ian Lambert
UI Developer

17 18 1.1
Anyone else think the lack of Kinect-selling software at E3 last night suggests that MS have essentially given up on Kinect? Even after this news I'd assumed that they'd continue to push it via first party titles, but (apart from an indie first person melee thing that looked very Kinect-y) there was basically no hint of it in what I saw. Gone the way of the Move? It's a shame, I've always like the idea of Kinect (if not the reality) and was hoping for a big vindication of their pushing it so hard this gen. If MS had given me one reason to buy one, I'd be all over it, but it never really happened and now doesn't look like it will...

Posted:2 months ago

#11

Curt Sampson
Sofware Developer

596 360 0.6
Gone the way of the Move? Worse, I think. I wouldn't discount Move just yet since, a) it worked, and worked well; and b) it seems to fit in extremely well as a controller for games played on Sony's upcoming VR headset.

Posted:2 months ago

#12

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,154 937 0.8
Relative to any system's performance, 10% is a huge quantity.

Posted:2 months ago

#13

Login or register to post

Take part in the GamesIndustry community

Register now