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.
June #XboxOne software dev kit gives devs access to more GPU bandwidth. More performance, new tools and flexibility to make games better— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) June 4, 2014
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.