Steam Machines are being announced

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Moreover, it seems intentional in these latest consoles to create devices not likely to have a RROD and to be a more compact unit that is cheaper.
The problem the consoles have though is that while they may have many jaguar cores they are having a hard time (for the first time ever) competing with really old desktop stuff.

And as far as low cost goes, I have seen these old SFF Pre-built computers go on sale for as low as $30 shipped without OS (Example: http://forums.anandtech.com/showpost.php?p=36985125&postcount=16 <----With a Xeon E5440 and adapter mod this would have been around $55 in hardware with equivalent (or better if a person values single thread) cpu performance to a $399 PS4). With that mentioned around $50 shipped for the desktop alone is more typical.

Now granted that old Core 2 box (I used as an example) still needs upgrades to compete with Xbox One, but at that low starting price point it isn't hard to understand a total budget of $200 would get a person a lot of extras.

$200 vs $349 (for Xbox One) and $399 for PS4 is a big price difference. Even at $250 we are talking a $100 to $150 price difference.
 
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RampantAndroid

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It isn't a good comparison. I stand by that. Xbox & PS OSes are very specialized. Go look at Diablo 3 for example - most reviews show it matching the PC version. You can keep chanting about these comparisons, but they are apples to oranges.
 
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Xbox & PS OSes are very specialized.
But is that specialization a good thing?

Or is the price we pay for the supposedly low price hardware (which really isn't low price in the same way it was in the past).

As I mentioned in a previous post having a more open operating system with less restrictions on how the games are used opens the possibility to mods like that Skyrim Total conversion I pointed out. As far as I know the Xbox One and PS4 don't allow these free comumity driven mods to be used (which adds a tremendous amount of content to these games). Of course, that is not the only advantage to having a OS that is not so specialized but I will stop there for now.

Now regarding the issue of specialization in SteamOS, my guess is that it will have all the types of specializations we want, but none of the specializations we don't want.

This freedom of SteamOS (and other Linux) made possible, in part, by hardware that doesn't need to be subsidized.
 
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It isn't a good comparison. I stand by that. Xbox & PS OSes are very specialized. Go look at Diablo 3 for example - most reviews show it matching the PC version. You can keep chanting about these comparisons, but they are apples to oranges.

I cant comment on the Diablo III question, but in general, if DX12 brings some of the optimizations of consoles to PC, then the console chips will be even more underpowered (relatively) to PC cpus than they are now. Or at least a lower performance PC cpu can compete with the consoles. The consoles are only really able to get by now because they are a lot more optimized than the PC.
 

RampantAndroid

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Specialization is great. The XBox OS doesn't need to worry about running Office, Skydrive (and doesn't need a ton of APIs that exist on Windows) so they're removed. I don't know what on earth you're talking about with "specializations we don't want" - the XBox OS is designed to do X, Y and Z. They removed everything not needed for those requirements.

Frozen - perhaps, yes. From AT's DX12 article:
The DirectX 12 path on the other hand scales up moderately well from 2 to 4 cores, but doesn’t scale up beyond that. This is due to the fact that at these settings, even pushing over 100K draw calls, both GPUs are solidly GPU limited.
Without more testing, it sounds like pure core count is enough. It doesn't sound like going from a 4 core Nehalem CPU to a 4 core Haswell CPU will really be that drastic, but rather just make it easier to get GPU bound.

I think consoles will still "get by" - targeting 1080p. We don't have enough info on Vulkan yet afaik to say whether it will bring similar results to steamboxes; nor will Vulkan help older games running on older versions of OpenGL.
 
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Madpacket

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Seriously who cares about the consoles. They are weak and underpowered and require yearly subscriptions to be useful.

The only decent console is the Wii U as it releases tons of fun ass games that will never show up on PC. The other two consoles simply have a tiny amount of usually timed exclusive mostly that end up on PC anyway.

Steam boxes with Windows make a ton of sense around the 500 dollar mark. All one needs to do is wait for Humble Bundle or Steam sales and they get the same games for a fraction of what the console games cost.
 
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We don't have enough info on Vulkan yet afaik to say whether it will bring similar results to steamboxes;
We do know that Vulkan is based on Mantle though.

According to the following results from AtenRA, Mantle did a good job boosting the performance of various multi-core CPUs in Thief:

http://forums.anandtech.com/showpost.php?p=36301071&postcount=136

P.S. Unfortunately I didn't see the Pentium (dual core Haswell) gain anything in the results, but the Q9450 and FX-6300 gained quite a bit.
 
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I'm thinking for the Xbox One games rendered at lower resolutions the best image quality is achieved by using a 720p (ie, 1366 x 768) Television set. This rather than upscaling the lower resolution frame to 1080p.

With something like Steam Box there could be different variations each targeting a specific resolution (720p, 1080p, 4K) rather than one device (Xbox One) that straddles two different resolution levels (720p and 1080p) but is not fully optimized for either one.
 

Thala

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According to the following list many times developers target 720p or 900p for Xbox One while PS4 targets 1080p on all but six listed games:
Most of the games with reduced resolution on XBox are first gen games, where parts of the GPU resources were still locked for Kinect. Thats not the case anymore.

rather than one device (Xbox One) that straddles two different resolution levels (720p and 1080p) but is not fully optimized for either one.
What do you mean with optimized? Finding the right balance between resolution, framrate, fragment-shaders etc. is completely up to the developer in case of consoles and (usually) up to the user in case of PC.
For this reason a set of optimizations are possible on consoles, which are not applicable to PCs.
 
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Most of the games with reduced resolution on XBox are first gen games, where parts of the GPU resources were still locked for Kinect. Thats not the case anymore.
Maybe I am mistaken but most of the lower resolution games didn't look they would use kinect with the exception of "Golf Club".

With respect to Battlefield 4 and Battlefield Hardline even the PS4 with its more powerful GPU and GDDR5 is only targeting 900p, so for that series I don't think we will see Xbox One move beyond 720p. Same goes for games like Call of Duty.
 

RampantAndroid

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Maybe I am mistaken but most of the lower resolution games didn't look they would use kinect with the exception of "Golf Club".
It didn't matter if you used Kinect's features, resources were, in past, always reserved for Kinect. Now that has been freed up.
 
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It didn't matter if you used Kinect's features, resources were, in past, always reserved for Kinect. Now that has been freed up.
According to the info in the following link, freeing up GPU resources from Kinect will only add 10% GPU performance:

http://www.extremetech.com/gaming/1...one-gpu-performance-by-making-kinect-optional

10% extra GPU (allowing the full 768 GCN stream processors with quad channel DDR3 2133/32MB ESRAM to be used on Xbox One) is still going to be far less than the PS4 1152 GCN stream processors backed up by GDDR5.

P.S. 768 GCN stream processors at 853 Mhz is about the same computational power as R7 250X (a video card that normally retails for $79.99 AR at Newegg, but often goes on sale for $59.99 AR). So that means the current Xbox One GPU was only slightly slower when that game was developed. Maybe in the near future I will do some informal testing with R7 250X and various inexpensive CPUs to see how they would stack up to the 720p performance of Xbox One in BF4. Of course, I will need Windows for the testing, but it should give us an idea of close old desktop CPU technology and budget modern CPU tech is getting to the price and performance of a modern console like Xbox One.
 

Thala

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10% extra GPU (allowing the full 768 GCN stream processors with quad channel DDR3 2133/32MB ESRAM to be used on Xbox One) is still going to be far less than the PS4 1152 GCN stream processors backed up by GDDR5.
It is generally not that easy. XBox has more memory bandwidth, PS4 more stream processors and thus higher computational power.
Now if you are in a bandwidth limited situation, XBox One is at advantage, in a shader limited situation PS4 is at advantage.
You can easily tune your game engine and artwork in a way that the other console is at clear disadvantage.
People tend to forget that memory bandwidth is as important as shader performance and just looking at the shaders.

P.S. 768 GCN stream processors at 853 Mhz is about the same computational power as R7 250X (a video card that normally retails for $79.99 AR at Newegg, but often goes on sale for $59.99 AR).
Again you fail to acknowledge the huge advantage in memory bandwidth. Just looking at the shaders will lead you nowhere. Then add the advantages of a closed platform on top. You need a much faster PC compared to the console specs in order to match the actual game performance of XBox One/PS4.
 
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I am not that clear on the architecture of PS4, but I thought with 5 gb of "shared" GDDR5 it wasnt supposed to be bandwidth limited.

The ESRAM on Xbone is to compensate for using DDR3 instead of GDDR5.
 

Thala

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I am not that clear on the architecture of PS4, but I thought with 5 gb of "shared" GDDR5 it wasnt supposed to be bandwidth limited.
How do you get to this conclusion? Simple math reveals that well below peak fillrate you already overload memory bandwidth of PS4 (176GByte/s). And that is just assuming z-buffer and frame-buffer access and not any blendig or stencil operations.
On Xbox however at peak fillrate ROPS can access z-buffer, frame-buffer inclusive blending using up about 200GByte/s of ESRAM bandwidth and still have 68GByte/s left for textures, geometry and CPU accesses.
Not to mention, that with DRAM you only achieve the theoretical bandwidth if you are doing either very long consecutive read or write transactions (burst), which is not realistic. So effective bandwidth is nowhere close to the 176GByte/s peak.
 
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Madpacket

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More on topic. Steam boxes without Windows have about as good a chance of success as the Ouya. I really think for the uninterested folks who just want console like plug and play would be just fine with the baseline Alienware steam box. They nailed the specs. If it doesn't sell at the current price I gave little hope Steam boxes will succeed.
 
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More on topic. Steam boxes without Windows have about as good a chance of success as the Ouya.
Maybe not.

It just depends on who chooses to develop for Linux.

For example, if EA/Dice decided to port the Battlefield series (which already uses Mantle) to Linux/Vulkan I'll bet that could move a lot of gamers over from Windows.

Though with that mentioned, I am not sure if EA/Dice would develop an Origin Linux client for the SteamOS desktop? (I assume they could if they wanted to though).
 
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Yea, I agree. An extra hundred dollars to add windows just seems like a no brainer considering the extra utility it gives. Steam OS and steam machines are a nice alternative in case MS tries to lock game distribution to the windows store or something, but I dont see that happening. Otherwise I see it as a very limited market.
 
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cbn said:
P.S. 768 GCN stream processors at 853 Mhz is about the same computational power as R7 250X (a video card that normally retails for $79.99 AR at Newegg, but often goes on sale for $59.99 AR).
Again you fail to acknowledge the huge advantage in memory bandwidth. Just looking at the shaders will lead you nowhere. Then add the advantages of a closed platform on top. You need a much faster PC compared to the console specs in order to match the actual game performance of XBox One/PS4.
I'm not an an engineer so I don't know how strongly that 32MB of ESRAM factors in (although the bandwidth is very high at ~200 GB/s). I do know that both GPUs have similar bandwith outside of the ESRAM (R7 250X= 72 GB/s, Xbox One= 68 GB/s)

P.S. So far my R7 250X seems to be doing well in informal Battlefield 4 multiplayer testing at 720p high (same resolution Xbox One uses).
 
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How do you get to this conclusion? Simple math reveals that well below peak fillrate you already overload memory bandwidth of PS4 (176GByte/s). And that is just assuming z-buffer and frame-buffer access and not any blendig or stencil operations.
On Xbox however at peak fillrate ROPS can access z-buffer, frame-buffer inclusive blending using up about 200GByte/s of ESRAM bandwidth and still have 68GByte/s left for textures, geometry and CPU accesses.
Not to mention, that with DRAM you only achieve the theoretical bandwidth if you are doing either very long consecutive read or write transactions (burst), which is not realistic. So effective bandwidth is nowhere close to the 176GByte/s peak.
Thanks for that explanation on the ESRAM, although I wonder how many game developers are optimizing for it?
 
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Regarding the informal BF4 64 player testing I mentioned back in post #164, Here is one of the areas I am using for comparisons:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGiHqR61O4I&t=278

Walking thru the leveled building in Seige of Shanghai the Xbox One (which runs the game at 1280 x 720) stays mostly in the 40's/low 50's for FPS, but does drop as low as 30 FPS at one point.

With my G3258 overclocked to 4.3 Ghz, MSI Z97 U3 Plus, 2 x 4GB DDR3 1600 (which is actually faster than a Non-Z board would run the RAM), R7 250X running 1280 x 720 High setting (using Mantle API) I am getting 45 to 65 FPS ~99% of the time in that very same area with 60 to 64 players on the map. This over the span of several games. FPS did drop to a low of 31 FPS, but this was during an explosion and heavy shooting among multiple players.
 
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Thala

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R7 250X running 1280 x 720 High setting (using Mantle API) I am getting 45 to 65 FPS ~99% of the time in that very same area with 60 to 64 players on the map.
You need to switch vertical sync on otherwise you cannot compare results.
Then of course BF4 is a launch title for Xbox One, where parts of the GPU was reserved for Kinect so no title could take advantage of it.
Finally if you compare multiplayer performance, and assuming DICE has not rewritten the engine to be highly threaded, you might easily be CPU limited with PS4/XBox One for multi-platform titles. But this has changed over the past year, as typical PC developers are going to use more cores if they also target consoles.
I would be surprised if you would get close to similar performance to Xbox One with recent titles, even if they are multi-platform.

Thanks for that explanation on the ESRAM, although I wonder how many game developers are optimizing for it?
Well certainly not too many. One of the issues is, that in many cases you need tiling support in your engine. Thats certainly given for 1st party titles. The idea is, that you do not compute the whole frame but rather a tile completely within SRAM. Once it is done you commit it to DRAM and start with the next tile in SRAM at the same time. This way you can support higher resolution as not the whole frame needs to fit into SRAM at any given point in time.
It is essentially the same technique, which was widely used for Xbox360 to support 720p HDR with only 10MByte eDRAM.
An interesting aspect here is, that Xbox 360 had even higher bandwidth but as i mentioned, DRAM is not close as effective in particular for small transactions as SRAM (if the theoretical peak bandwidth is the same)
 
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Now that the steam machines have been out for about 1 month, does anyone think Valve will start building in perks specific to Steam OS in order to differentiate from Windows machines running steam?

If so, what do you think these perks will be?
'
Maybe they would make CS:GO free for those using SteamOS? Its $15 normally (and sometimes $5 on sale). This and maybe throw in some SteamOS specific gun skins? Maybe SteamOS specific items for Team Fortress 2 as well?

I think there is some good potential considering six of the top ten games on Steam are available in Linux:

http://store.steampowered.com/stats/

from Steam Link above said:
Top games by current player count

Current Players Peak Today Game

442,901 877,218 Dota 2
238,734 709,278 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

105,916 122,020 Fallout 4
57,893 61,405 Team Fortress 2
40,565 53,538 Warframe
38,737 45,239 Sid Meier's Civilization V
35,072 37,972 Garry's Mod

30,162 48,313 Grand Theft Auto V
29,608 41,801 ARK: Survival Evolved
25,039 34,404 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
 
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