Xbox 360 vs. PS3 (Part 4 of 4)

The PS3 has 22.4 GB/s of GDDR3 bandwidth and 25.6 GB/s of RDRAM bandwidth for a total system bandwidth of 48 GB/s.

The Xbox 360 has 22.4 GB/s of GDDR3 bandwidth and a 256 GB/s of EDRAM bandwidth for a total of 278.4 GB/s total system bandwidth.

Why does the Xbox 360 have such an extreme amount of bandwidth? Even the simplest calculations show that a large amount of bandwidth is consumed by the frame buffer. For example, with simple color rendering and Z testing at 550 MHz the frame buffer alone requires 52.8 GB/s at 8 pixels per clock. The PS3’s memory bandwidth is insufficient to maintain its GPU’s peak rendering speed, even without texture and vertex fetches.

The PS3 uses Z and color compression to try to compensate for the lack of memory bandwidth. The problem with Z and color compression is that the compression breaks down quickly when rendering complex next-generation 3D scenes.

HDR, alpha-blending, and anti-aliasing require even more memory bandwidth. This is why Xbox 360 has 256 GB/s bandwidth reserved just for the frame buffer. This allows the Xbox 360 GPU to do Z testing, HDR, and alpha blended color rendering with 4X MSAA at full rate and still have the entire main bus bandwidth of 22.4 GB/s left over for textures and vertices.

When you break down the numbers, Xbox 360 has provably more performance than PS3. Keep in mind that Sony has a track record of over promising and under delivering on technical performance. The truth is that both systems pack a lot of power for high definition games and entertainment.

However, hardware performance, while important, is only a third of the puzzle. Xbox 360 is a fusion of hardware, software and services. Without the software and services to power it, even the most powerful hardware becomes inconsequential. Xbox 360 games?”by leveraging cutting-edge hardware, software, and services?”will outperform the PlayStation 3.