Why a consoles CPU architecture is almost irrelevant.

Posted by | Posted in Game Development | Posted on 22-05-2013

In the aftermath of last nights XboxOne announcement this is probably the least technically literate article I’ve read so far: http://www.engadget.com/2013/05/21/x86-architecture-vs-nintendo/

Why would the CPU architecture make any difference? Answer: It doesn’t. Ok it might make things slightly different, a tiny bit different but frankly there are much bigger differences between even the XboxOne and PS4 than a little thing like the CPU architecture.

With something like that we abstract it once, occasionally fix up a few issues over the development of the title, spend some time during optimisation and… that’s it.

It’s just a tiny cost compared to the vast hours spent dealing with the rendering pipeline differences. The initial system level bringup and porting of our libraries. Dealing with platform specific TCR/TRC compliance and testing. Balancing system resources and usage. Or managing the different build systems and compilers. You still need to do that for ANY new console even when they all use the same underlying architecture because you’re rarely targetting the ASM level directly.

If anything doomed the Wii U it was holding off it’s launch until the next-gen consoles were due so soon. If they’d launched it earlier they’d have had several YEARS to establish it, to iterate on the hardware to bring costs down and resolve any problems with the OS software. Instead they look like an underpowered, last-gen console with poor software support and a gimmick

Andy

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