The PC being x86 based doesn’t magically make the PC at parity with even the XBox One in terms of hardware.
If a game is written with 8 CPUs, a powerful GPU, unified memory and even 5GB (not including OS) RAM as an assumption, then its obvious that the vast majority of todays PCs are not even anywhere close to that.
There may be hundreds of millions of PCs in the world, but only a tiny percentage of them have 8 cores just taking that single spec.
It’s a given that PCs with powerful CPUs and GPUs are MUCH more powerful than the new consoles. Look at my posts over the past few weeks, I’m consistent in that high-end PCs are much more powerful.
But I’m referring to the lack of 8 cores as a reason why its difficult to port the new gen of console games.
i3/i5/i7 cores are of course, more powerful processors per clock, and also tend to be clocked much higher than the rumoured clock speeds of the new consoles. But, heavily optimized console games will be written to the assumption of 8 hardware threads (possibly 7 if one is reserved for background processes). It’s hard to write threaded code, but the best next gen games (on console) will have to split the workload between cores if they are to squeeze potential out of the system. Games will be written to be heavily threaded, and if PCs don’t offer the same amount of hardware threads, then there can be a big performance penalty on heavily threaded code, even when the total GFLOPS of a lesser amount of cores on a PC might be superior to the greater amount of cores on the console.
Not having 8 (even slower) cores automatically creates a porting cost if games makers just want it to run well on a PC. Of course, some i7 chips offer 8 hardware threads via hyperthreading on just 4 physical cores such as the 4th gen Intel Core i7 processors, but the cost of such processors is very high, and far far far from the mainstream at present.
The GPU in the XBox may be a “low end” GPU from a high end gaming PC perspective, but compared to the average mainstream PC, its a vision from the future. The average PC (which is a notebook) for sale now in Best Buy has 4GB RAM total and much of that is consumed with the OS, realistically leaving 2GB comfortably for applications before memory warnings start to appear.
The vast majority of PCs in homes right now have between 2 to 6 GB RAM (even if we take Steam’s own figures which is heavily skewed toward PC owners that game versus the average). Next gen games will assume a minimum of 5GB of RAM for use, and any amount of that can be assigned to the GPU (as opposed to the GPUs on the vast majority of PCs having 1GB or less memory – usually a lot less – unless its integrated graphics of course, then we are at less than PS3 levels of performance).
Now, even the “low-end” GPU in the XBox One will be performing significantly better with unified memory architecture and heavily optimised drivers, and that “low-end” GPU also happens to be faster than the vast vast majority of PCs.
So, yes, gaming PCs are very very much faster than the new consoles, but EA is probably being canny in accessing that the vast majority of PCs simply will not be able to handle the minimum requirements they wish to use for their next gen games. Even PCs that are on-paper vastly more powerful than XBox One/PS4, might have trouble running games that assume 8 hardware threads (even when the sum total of the PC hardware thread performance is greater) and anywhere up to 5GB graphics memory.
And once more, there really is no need for ad hominem attacks. If you have a good argument, share it, and we go from there.
I think there will be another revolution in hardware.
As it is now, the specs of the average PC has been hovering around for quite some time, and a lot of PC owners haven’t upgraded their graphics cards in quite some time because there wasn’t really much AAA content that actually required upgraded specs. Everything could fit in 512MB out of necessity as the console market led big-budget content production.
If PC owners want to move up to console parity then enough PC owners have to upgrade their PCs so that every one of the specs is equal or greater to their console equivilents. That includes the requirement of having 8 hardware threads, having at least 8GB RAM and having a GPU at least as fast as the PS4. Some people (such as garrett.butcher) would have us believe that PCs are already so much more superior than consoles, when all they are using as a frame of reference is their own PC or a world in which all PCs are high-end.
The truth is that there will be a period where the market for console games on PC is tiny, purely because there are not enough PCs that match the hardware requirements of the new console games. It will be at least 8 years before mainstream notebook computers have the compute power of a PS4, and given that most new PCs sold today are notebooks, then that should give you an idea of the timeframe we are looking at for the average PC to reach hardware parity with next-gen consoles.
It is important to realise that the rich-poor divide in PC hardware has been growing ever wider, and that it is important as PC gaming enthusiasts (of which I am) do not gloat about superiority. The average matters.