Since the current generation of consoles kicked off, it’s been a matter of public record that the PS4 has more grunt processing power than the Xbox One, which has allowed most multiplatform games to run at more consistent framerates and slightly higher resolutions on Sony’s console, but recently that seems to be changing. Games like Assassin’s Creed Unity and the current-gen version of GTA V actually run more smoothly on Microsoft’s console. What could be going on here?
Well, according to recently leaked Xbox One development tools and documentation, Microsoft freed up almost an entire extra CPU core for developers not long ago. The PS4 and Xbox One have eight core CPUs, but both systems devote two of those cores to running their operating systems and various background processes – or at least they did. Sometime in early October Microsoft freed up the core that used to power the Kinect, so as long as Xbox One developers don’t use voice commands or motion controls in their game, they now have seven cores to work with while PS4 devs still, presumably, have only six. Add on the extra 10% GPU boost the Xbox One gets when the Kinect is dropped, and Microsoft’s stripped-down machine suddenly seems to be very close in line, if not slightly more powerful than the PS4.
Of course Sony still has plenty of wiggle room here – they could free up CPU cores themselves, and the PS4’s GPU is still a monster, but the clear-cut “everything runs a little better on PS4” thing we saw in late 2013 and early 2014 may be at a permanent end. Commence raging and/or gloating depending on what machine you own.