Microsoft Announces Xbox One GPU Upgrade

xbox one e3 copy

Xbox executive Marc Whitten announced on Major Nelson’s podcast yesterday that the upcoming Xbox One has received upgrades to its graphic specifications. According to Whitten, a brand new Xbox One-specific driver called the “mono driver” has been implemented, and the clock speed of the GPU has been raised from 800 MHz to 853 MHz.

Whitten explained the philosophy and timing behind this update, as follows:

“This is the time where we’ve gone from theory of how the hardware works—what do we think the yield is going to look like, what is the thermal envelope, how do things come together—to really having them in our hands. That’s the time where you start tweaking the knobs because either your theory was right dead-on or you were a little too conservative or you were a little too aggressive.”

These upgrades are being implemented before the console’s release this November, so it’s tough to say how – or even if – these changes will make much of a difference. Most people have yet to get their hands on the new Xbox, let alone spend enough time with it to be able to mark a noticeable difference.

What’s clear, however, is that this is yet another piece of news in a series of announcements from Microsoft that are aimed squarely at doing away with any concerns from the public over the Xbox One’s perceived inferiority to Sony’s PlayStation 4. After Digital Foundry’s recent report that the PS4 could have “20% better performance” than the new Xbox, the timing of this performance upgrade reveal couldn’t be more appropriate.

At this point, Xbox is playing catch-up with the PlayStation and Microsoft is desperately trying to narrow the gap they created at their E3 conference. Now with the policies and specifications of the Xbox One more closely resembling those of the PS4, it’ll be interesting to see if they can take the pre-launch lead in the next console race, or if its too little, too late. Either way, it’s sure to be a close one.