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New Kinect-free edition unlocks memory bandwidth reserved for Microsoft's camera sensor

Given Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) supply struggles, sales struggles, and privacy concerns regarding the Xbox One's "Kinect" video and audio sensor, it's perhaps unsurprising that Microsoft decided to at last offer a cheaper ($399) SKU of its console without the sensor.  Now that decision has brought about an interesting twist -- Xbox One users who ditch the Kinect may be able to enjoy better graphics performance.
It turns out that Microsoft's always-on sensor reserves as much as 10 percent of its graphics hardware's memory bandwidth and processing resources for watching its user(s).  Comments a Microsoft spokesperson to Eurogamer:

Yes, the additional resources allow access to up to 10 per cent additional GPU performance.  We're committed to giving developers new tools and flexibility to make their Xbox One games even better by giving them the option to use the GPU reserve in whatever way is best for them and their games.

According to Eurogamer and The Verge, Microsoft will for the first time be allowing game developers to use these freed up resources to enable special "Kinect-free" enhanced graphics settings.  While that's good news for Xbox One gamers, it also adds an interesting extra nuance to an already heated debate.

Xbox One Kinect

Microsoft's Xbox One has trailed its rival Sony Corp.'s (TYO:6758) console after committing a number of missteps, including initially planning to use DRM to ban used games and threatening to make users' consoles unplayable offline.  While it later recanted on each of these controversial terms, the console has continued to struggle through a number of controversies.  To add insult to injury, Sony recently announced that its rival offering, the PlayStation 4 (PS4) was already profitable.
Nonetheless it has moved millions of units and isn't too far behind Sony's PS4 in lifetime sales.  Microsoft has remained very committed to its console, releasing a major update in April.
The future of the Xbox One should be elucidated at next week's 2014 E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo), which is being held in Los Angeles, Calif.  Stephen Elop, the new executive vice president of Microsoft Devices (which makes the Xbox), is expected to present his vision for the future of the console along with new Xbox chief Phil Spencer at Microsoft's Monday, June 9 press event.

Sources: Eurogamer, via The Verge, Microsoft

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Neither console seems that fast
By Milliamp on 6/5/2014 11:21:33 AM , Rating: 3
Aside from a lot of bad decision MS made with the launch of One and it lagging behind PS4 a bit neither of them seem too fast:

Is it just an APU limitation? Do you think they will do a mid-cycle refresh with a faster APU in a couple years?

Does AMD sell (a version of) the APU on the PC market yet?

By someguy123 on 6/6/2014 12:29:01 AM , Rating: 2
I doubt they will cycle. The success of the wii convinced them that average is good enough when it comes to specs, and with all three companies lowballing specs there's no incentive to push a quick refresh, except for nintendo who're struggling to move wiiUs.

The APUs in both consoles are on par with low~mid range gpu setups from 2012. The ps4 should be around the performance of a 7850, but right now games seem to perform worse and it could be due to throttling (ps4 is pretty compact and has one main jet turbine cooling the APU). the xbox is in an even worse state with low end parts across the board. The apus aren't available for PC but AMD will probably have something comparable or better than the xbox one's apu with their next refresh.

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh

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