Microsoft surprised by Xbox One’s ESRAM backlash, calls ESRAM an evolution of Xbox 360’s eDRAM

Speaking with Digital Foundry, Microsoft’s hardware architecture team manager Nick Baker said that they were surprised by the backlash that started regarding Xbox One’s ESRAM and it being difficult to work with; he also called the Xbox One, an evolution of Xbox 360’s design philosophy.

The Xbox One has been difficult to work with especially if compared to its competitor PlayStation 4. Many sources have claimed that it didn’t take them long to get their engine up and running with stable performance on PlayStation 4 while Microsoft’s Xbox One required a lot more optimization to get up and running properly. At the center of all these news was Xbox One’s ESRAM, which was called a hindrance since it required a lot more focus and attention to extract a stable performance compared to the 8 GB GDDR 5 on PS4.

Digital Foundry recently got to talk with Microsoft’s hardware architecture team manager Nick Baker and asked him about the design philosophy of Xbox One.

“This controversy is rather surprising to me, especially when you view as ESRAM as the evolution of eDRAM from the Xbox 360. No-one questions on the Xbox 360 whether we can get the eDRAM bandwidth concurrent with the bandwidth coming out of system memory. In fact, the system design required it,” explains Andrew Goosen.

“We had to pull over all of our vertex buffers and all of our textures out of system memory concurrent with going on with render targets, colour, depth, stencil buffers that were in eDRAM. Of course with Xbox One we’re going with a design where ESRAM has the same natural extension that we had with eDRAM on Xbox 360, to have both going concurrently. It’s a nice evolution of the Xbox 360 in that we could clean up a lot of the limitations that we had with the eDRAM.

“The Xbox 360 was the easiest console platform to develop for, it wasn’t that hard for our developers to adapt to eDRAM, but there were a number of places where we said, ‘gosh, it would sure be nice if an entire render target didn’t have to live in eDRAM’ and so we fixed that on Xbox One where we have the ability to overflow from ESRAM into DDR3, so the ESRAM is fully integrated into our page tables and so you can kind of mix and match the ESRAM and the DDR memory as you go… From my perspective it’s very much an evolution and improvement – a big improvement – over the design we had with the Xbox 360. I’m kind of surprised by all this, quite frankly.”

Sony has learned a lot from the hard to work with approach of PS3 and has created a efficient and easy to develop architecture for PS4, which we can see from the praise it has gotten so far. Xbox One, on the other hand, has evolved on the design philosophy of Xbox 360 but compared to PS4, which is now far more easier to develop for, the developers are finding it perhaps a bit hard to focus on optimizing their code for Xbox One when they can get it up and running on PS4 easily. In other words, we are in the same situation as we were with PS3/Xbox 360 in previous generation.

Stay tuned to GearNuke to get the latest news and info on this topic.



    • proph

      Why do people constantly quote this tool?

  • ToastedThong

    “It was the easiest to produce for last gen”

    Hah. That’s because cell was so bloody difficult. But even that has its uses when applied correctly… What the Xbox has is just designed to make up for poor quality hardware

  • Matt

    It’s a cheap supplement to the cheaper DDR3 modules.

  • Thatoneguy

    How is it an evolution when its still only 32MB? I could see if it was upgraded to 128MB but 32MB these days is minimal at best for anything.

  • Kamille

    most game developers thought the EDram was pointless. Why they didn’t learn from that? Instead of occupying space on die with esRam they could have made like Sony and use it for more CUs. But yeah, they went the cheap route with DDr3 and esRam was mandatory if they didn’t want to bottleneck the GPU with small bandwidth.

    • Gabrielsp85

      In the whole article they state that the DDR3 and eSRAM work as one, also i believe they didn’t either wanted to get a hit on performance on the CPU with GDDR5 due to its high latency, most people forget about this and the CPU is as important as the GPU in every system , also X1 CU are just for graphics since it got its own audio processor and 15 extra “special purpose processors” while PS4 use some of the CU for other task, in the end X1 should be the same as the 360 to develop for which was the easiest console this gen, mostly dev claiming PS4 is way easier to develop are either indies or 1st party, only time will tell

      • ryan dungey

        Those 15 special processors on the Xbox one. 8 of the 15 are audio processors 4 are move engines I can’t remember what the other 3 are but it’s not a audio processor on it’s own and 15 special purpose processors. Ile try and find the link to the article I got this info from

        • Gabrielsp85

          I know it’s on the hot chips diagram, I just didn’t explain myself properly there