Microsoft's Phil Spencer has announced that Xbox One developers now have access to more graphics horsepower, following an update that increases the bandwidth available to the console's integrated graphics processor.
While the Xbox One and Sony's rival PS4 share many similarities, there are distinct differences between the two. Both based on a semi-custom accelerated processor unit (APU) from AMD, the PS4 boasts 18 compute units to the Xbox One's 12 compute units. Although Microsoft has attempted to compensate for that disparity with a higher clock speed and a chunk of embedded memory on the processor itself, indications from developers are that at this early stage it's possible to run games at a higher resolution on the PS4 than on the Xbox One.
That's something Microsoft is, naturally, keen to change. Spencer, the new head of the company's Xbox division, has taken to Twitter
to confirm a major impact of the company's latest software development kit update. '[The] June #XboxOne software dev kit [update] gives devs access to more GPU bandwidth,
' he claimed. 'More performance, new tools and flexibility to make games better.
Previously, Microsoft had suggested that the switch to make the Kinect depth-sensing camera system an optional part of the Xbox One experience would open up around 10 per cent more general-purpose compute performance for use by games, but this announcement suggests yet another gain for devs. What is not yet clear is how the change affects retail consoles: the suggestion is that developers choosing to make use of the increased bandwidth, the provision of which has not been detailed, will see their efforts replicated when the game is used on standard retail-model consoles - including those already in homes throughout the world.
With Sony enjoying a comfortable lead for its PS4, it's clear that Microsoft is on the defensive but only time will tell if these new performance gains will prove enough for the company to catch up to its rival.