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Console Wars

System Specs

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System Specifications Explanation

Well I have this nice chart setup explaining what the specifications of the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Nintendo Revolution have inside them. But what does all of this mean? What console will have games with better graphics? Here is a newbed down explanation.

Unified Shader Architecture

Unified Shader Architecture

You may have heard someone say the Xbox 360 has unified shader architecture. It is called that because the pixel and vertex shaders have been combined. The PS3 does not have a unified shader architecture, it has them on separate pipelines.

The Xbox 360 gains a graphical advantage since it has a unified shader architecture.

In the PS3 and graphics cards used in PCs today the vertex and pixel shaders rarely use the same amount of bandwidth all the time. Sometimes a vertex shader has to use a large amount and not very much pixel shader. So a bunch of the pixel shader is not being used because it has to wait for the vertex shader. This is not very efficient. Efficiency rarely rises above 70%. That is a lot of power wasted, often half the power is being wasted. How much power is actually being used depends on the game.

In games there are many different combonations of shader and pixel power being used. If you are playing a game like Halo or GTA sometimes you see many people on the screen at once and sometimes you don't see any. Sometimes many weapons are being fired and sometimes none are. Graphics are displayed on screen using vertex and pixel shaders. It is very hard to keep the same ratio of vertexes to shaders in games because games are so dynamic.

In the Xbox 360 the pixel and vertex shaders are combined so which ever one needs to be used more power will use it. If there is a high demand for vertex and a small demand for pixel it will use more of the power for vertex and less for pixel. The Xbox 360 GPU shader and pixel pipeline is always running at 100% efficiency. So more of the available power is being used.

Vertex and Pixel shaders play a huge roll in controlling the graphics of a game. The more power you have with vertex and pixel shaders the more power and better graphics a GPU will have.

Game creators know how much bandwidth they have for pixel and vertex shaders. It will be very easy for game creators to harness all of the vertex and pixel shader power of the Xbox 360 because it is automatically done. It will be pretty much impossible to harness all of the vertex and shader power of the PS3. As game developers get more experience with the PS3 the games will use the power of the PS3 more efficiently.

So why doesn't the PS3 have unified shader architecture if it is so much better? It doesn't because unified shader architecture is new feature. ATI is the company making the Xbox 360 GPU (graphics processing unit) and they came up with the idea while designing the Xbox 360 GPU. Sony is having NVIDIA design the PS3 GPU. Since the unified shader architecture is so new NVIDIA did not have time to implement it into the PS3's GPU. Unified shader architecture will come to PC video cards in the future.


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