AMD might say that the company did pretty well this year because both Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but also the next Nintendo Wii U generation are based on hardware configurations that include video cards and processors from AMD.
While the Nintendo Wii U console comes with an older hardware configuration, the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 reveal state of the art hardware platforms.
The excellent performance / price ratio provided by AMD made gaming consoles very favorable for game developers as they get to work with powerful hardware configurations and makes it easier for them to port the games on different platforms.
Up to one point, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 gaming consoles are very much alike hardware wise, as they are both based on the same processor and DirectX 11 video card based on Graphics CoreNext architecture.
Presented ever since February, the processor of the PlayStation 4 gaming console is a real work of art as it includes an octa-core 1.6 GHz processor and Radeon GPU with 1156 stream processors, both connected with the help of a 256 bits bus at a GDDR5 memory of 8 GB, working at a speed of 5.5 GHz.
Unlike the architecture of a desktop PC, the PlayStation 4 gaming console does not have video and RAM memory shared separately, as the two are substituted with a unified architecture in which the software components and textures required to generate the 3D environment share the same memory resource.
The advantages are that the system memory with a 176 GB/s bandwidth is faster than the RAM memory of a regular PC, better managed by programmers and the production costs are smaller than a configuration with separate RAM and video memory.
The Xbox One has the same 1.6 GHz processor but it uses a Radeon GPU with only 768 stream processors and, basically, the hardware platform is the same.
When it comes to software, the differences between the two consoles become clear. Sony opted for a Unix based operating system which provides support for 3D acceleration through the OpenGL 4.2 API.
The Xbox One uses a 64 bits operating system based on a Windows NT 6.x kernel. With a software architecture similar to the Windows PC platform and 3D features through DirectX 11 API, the Xbox One console is somewhat more attractive for software developers, especially if they want to adapt games for the PC platform was a reduced cost.
Considering the features of the two consoles we might say that the PlayStation 4 console is a bit better when it comes to 3D performances.
The Xbox One console provides however a better software platform that reduces production costs for developers, which might encourage the release of more games for Xbox.
Although smaller, the graphics core has a similar architecture and the performance difference is small enough to be masked through software optimizations.
Eventually, the choice between a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One console is yours.