Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer, Mark Whitten, seemingly has confirmed that of the Xbox One’s 8GB memory only 5GB can be used for games, whilst the other 3GB is used for the system OS.
In an interview with a reporter for Game Informer was given a preview of the Xbox One technology. He asked Mark Whitten:
“When they talked about the system itself, there’s basically my impression is there is three OSs, sorta a dual partition, one is running the pure game, one is a smaller partition that is running apps and other things in the background which allows a television app to be in a low-level mode and essentially switch between them and there is a main super-ego that is allotting resources between the two.
My question is in terms of RAM you said there is 8GB of RAM my impression was there is 5 of that being diverted to the games, 3 of that to running the always-on apps partition. Sony has 8GB of GDDR5 which is pretty fast RAM and I think it is all unified towards games. Do you think that puts you at a technical disadvantage because there is [in the Xbox One] only 5GB of functioning RAM for games?”
When Mark Whitten answered the question he did not deny that 5GB of RAM is usable for games and 3GB for the system OS:
“Yeah, I’m not going to talk about Sony’s system, I’m not close enough to really understand how there system works. I will say that I think the way we’ve balanced our system is really key, in terms of two things. The first one is we believe that we are going to have amazing experiences that are clearly next-gen. I think you guys saw some experiences that set a bar that is clearly very high.
I think that are games are going to look great, they will be the best looking games in the living room and I think the experience that you are going to have along with those games, the ability to run experiences at the same. This isn’t about so I can watch TV at the same time as I’m watching games – those are interesting scenarios as well. At a gaming level the ability to create a modern gaming experiences, where LIVE and the apps and services you can run at the same time as the game, we think will really change that experience we think it’s key.”
The PlayStation 4 has 8GB of unified GDDR5 RAM, 1GB of which is allotted to the system’s OS. Whilst it has more memory usable for games it might mean over the course of the generation that new non-gaming features cannot be added because of a lack of RAM. This happened with the PlayStation 3 console when it launched without cross-game chat. Sony software engineers desperately tried to add this feature but couldn’t because there was not enough RAM available to the OS. The memory architecture of both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One could be an early indication of consumer focus.
Source: Game Informer video 9.44s