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Game Cube versus X-box

Here's a nice little comparison between the specifications of the X-box and Game Cube. I really think that X-box is going to flop and Microsoft will lose a lot of money, but that's just a hunch. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing Bill Gates wipe that smug smile off his face.


 
Specification
X-Box
Game Cube
CPU
Pentium III 733 MHz
IBM Power PC 405 MHz 
A 733 MHz Pentium III sounds good, doesn't it? Well, it might be. Let's face the facts. Microsoft is trying to turn a PC into a dedicated gaming console. Sure, PC games will work great on a PIII system, but the X-box is not a PC. Dedicated game consoles are much different than PCs. A Pentium III is designed to work on home computers, not game consoles. Its circuitry is designed to perform tasks other than gaming. Remember that megahertz are not an accurate measurement of speed. I don't think the PIII will operate as well as the Game Cube's IBM processor. The GC's processor is custom made for playing games, so it is designed specifically to work with the various elements of producing graphics. Using a Pentium for graphics only puts undue strain on the CPU. Microsoft shoud try to avoid creating a knock-off of a PC. PCs are designed for multiple functions, gaming is only a small part. They should have gone with a CPU specifically designed for games and graphics. I honestly don't think it will perform as well as they are saying.
Graphics Processor
Custom-designed by Microsoft and nVidia, 250 MHz
Custom chip "Flipper" 202.5 MHz
First of all, the X-box's graphics processor has been downgraded by 50 MHz from the original 300. I guess they couldn't put as much power into it as they thought. nVidia is a good company, known for good graphics chips. However, they are also known for running too hot. And a processor that runs too hot, will not run at its rated speed. Also, the downgrading of the speed means that X-box will only be able to perform a pixel fill-rate of 4 gigapixels/sec, down from 4.8. Of course, this specification is far from realistic, it will only exist under experimental conditions. Programmers will have a hard time trying to develop games now that the graphics chip is slower than it was originally planned to be. Game Cube is estimated to produce 3.2 gigapixels/sec, and that is under real gaming conditions. I think the X-box will end up performing the same or lesser than the GC in this area.
Total Memory
64 MB
43 MB
Well, the X-box has more memory than the Game Cube, but it also needs it to handle all the useless features. I'm not sure what type of RAM the X-box uses, but I'm willing to bet that it is slower than Game Cube's. Remember that half of GC's RAM is high-speed, and that more than makes up for the difference in actual memory storage.
Memory Bandwidth
6.4 GB/sec
3.2 GB/sec
At first glance, double the memory bandwidth sounds good. However, this bandwidth is shared between all the parts of the system, including the CPU, sound chip, and graphics chip. When the bandwidth is shared, memory-intensive games will suck up the bandwidth and cause a slow-down. Game Cube has a dedicated texture bandwidth of 12.8 GB/sec, and a dedicated sound bandwidth of 1.6 GB/sec. So while Game Cube has its own special buses for textures and sound, X-box is stuck using its main memory bandwidth for everything. They're once again asking for a data bottleneck. X-box uses a single memory bank for all functions, while Game Cube has seperate memory sectors for different processes. Once again, Microsoft is trying to make the X-box into a PC, which is exactly what it shouldn't be.
Polygon Performance
125 million polygons/sec
6-12 million polygons/sec
I have one word for Microsoft's claim that X-box will deliver 125 million polygons/sec: laughable. Hell will freeze over before X-box puts out 125 million polygons. I'm sure that's only under experimental conditions, if even then. Game Cube is being both realistic and conservative in its estimate. They are telling you exactly what you will see when playing a game. X-box will probably have performance that is the same or only slightly better than Game Cube's. And remember, all those polygons are being handled by slower, all-purpose RAM, and it just might end up performing worse than Game Cube. Nintendo is being conservative and not trying to deceive people, Game Cube will probably perform better than they are touting.
Simultaneous Textures
4
8
Definitely a shoe-in for Game Cube. X-box can only handle four textures at a time, while Game Cube can handle 8. Also remember that X-box uses slower, more inefficient RAM than Game Cube. And Game Cube also has a dedicated memory cache just for textures, X-box has to share its memory with the rest of the system. I think Game Cube will outperform X-box in this area.
Pixel Fill Rate (no textures)
4 billion/sec
3.26 billion/sec
Once again, the X-box doesn't live up to expectations. The fill rate is not much better than Game Cube, and remember once again that the RAM is the limiting factor. Whereas X-box needs to share all of its RAM, Game Cube has memory dedicated to graphics.
Pixel Fill Rate (1 texture)
4 billion/sec
Not Applicable
Yeah right, X-box will never achieve this fill rate. Why is Game Cube not applicable in this situation? Well, that gets complicated. It probably has something to do with the hardware. Game Cube handles textures in its own special way, and is much more efficient. X-box will not live up to this claim.
Pixel Fill Rate (2 textures)
4 billion/sec
Not Applicable
4 billion pixels/sec for two textures at once? Hah! not in a million years. Just remember Game Cube's special texture memory. Once again, Microsoft is trying to deceive its customers. Honestly, I don't think they have a good track record when it comes to telling the truth. They tend to "exaggerate."
Texture Compression
6 to 1
6 to 1
For once, they have a true tie here. At least Microsoft isn't being as stupid as Sony, which has no texture compression.
Storage Media
Standard DVD, about 8 GB
Hard disk, 8 GB
Memory Card, 8 MB
Mini-DVD, 1.5 GB
0.5 MB Digicard
Admittedly, the X-box's DVD will hold much more than Game Cube's mini-DVD. That isn't all bad, but if a programmer does it right, he will never need 8 GB of space. X-box's hard disk is good, but remember that it's another moving part and is much more prone to failure than a solid-state memory card. Also, the hard disk generates heat, which must be dissipated by the fans, which are also moving parts. I have to give Microsoft credit on this one, they haven't done anything stupid in this respect. But I still don't like the idea of a hard drive in my game console, it just isn't necessary yet.
Input / Output
4 game controllers
Ehternet port
4 game controllers
2 high-speed serial ports
high-speed parallel port
Well, Game Cube wins this round. It has better high-speed ports than the X-box. The use of an Ethernet port is another example of X-box trying to be a PC. The high-speed ports on the Game Cube are faster than the X-box's Ethernet, and they are designed for the gaming uses of the Game Cube. Ehternet was designed for computers, and will not perform as well.
Audio Channels
256
64+
Yet another example of Microsoft using experimental numbers to sound cool. Theoretically, they can both produce 256 audio channels. But Game Cube was being conservative in its estimate. Game Cube will handle 64 channels under normal circumstances.frankly, when X-box is running a real game, it won't be able to handle 256 channels efficiently and programmers will never even need that many anyways.
3-D Audio Support
64 3-D channels
Dolby Pro-Logic
X-box's 3-D audio, like surround sound, is a little underpowered. Nintendo is using the tried-and-true Dolby Pro-Logic, plus a whole bunch of pretty new sound filters for producing specific effects for specific areas in the game. Put simply, Game Cube is going to kick ass in the sound department. Of course, you also have to remember, the sound coming out of the console is only as good as the speakers you're playing it on. If you're using a crappy stereo, then you won't be able to appreciate the quality of the sound.
MIDI + DLS Support
Yes
Yes, MusyX
I'm not sure about the specifics on the support for this stuff on the X-box, but it's probably satisfactory. But the Game Cube has a special instruction set called MusyX, whose qualities are unknown but will probably be spectacular.
Hardware Audio Filtering and EQ
Yes
Yes, MusyX
Once again, I don't know much about this area. But Game Cube will probably win. The sound team for Nintendo has a lot of aces up their sleeves.
Broadband Enabled
Yes
Optional
Broadband capability is something I'm a little wishy-washy about. I don't think the gaming world is quite ready for broadband (e.g. cable modems, DSL) in their gaming consoles. Although the number of subscribers has increased in recent years, it still isn't a significant proportion of Internet users. Broadband will not be a part of everyone's home for a few more years. I'm glad that Nintendo has chosen to make this optional, I wouldn't want to pay for something I'm not going to use.
DVD Movie Playback
Yes
No
People have differing opinions on this subject, but this is definitely not a selling point for me. I have no intention of buying a game console because it can play DVD movies, that just takes away from the gaming experience. I already have a DVD player, I don't need a nother one. I don't like to waste my money on useless extras.
HDTV Movie Support
Yes
No
HDTV Game Support
Yes
Standard progressive scan (almost HDTV)
Once again, HDTV (high definition TV) is one of those things that the gaming world is not quite ready for yet. While it is nice that X-box can display games in HDTV format, how many people actually have an HDTV? I'm willing to bet that most of you who are reading this do not own a digital TV, and will not own one for many years. HDTV simply isn't profitable yet. Not to mention that they cost thousands of dollars. At the rate these "next generation" consoles are coming out, I think the Game Cube and X-box's successors should concentrate on HDTV. The people aren't ready for it yet, it is just another useless expense.
Maxiumum Resolution
1920 1080
640 480
A winner for X-box, maybe. Remember what I said about the majority of people not having an HDTV. You will only see a resolution of 1920 480 on a high-definition TV. I think Microsoft is giving experimental numbers again. In real life, nobody is going to use that high a resolution. The only resolution that people will use (about 95% of them) is 640 480 because that is what a standard TV shows. Also note that a regular TV uses interlaced scanning. The screen is 480 lines tall, and every other line is refreshed at a time. Game Cube uses progressive scanning, which refreshes the entire screen at a time, creating a much smoother picture. If you don't own an HDTV, then X-box's support of it is just another waste of money.

    Well, there you have it. Although I am slightly biased towards Nintendo, the information I gave was totally objective. While Game Cube will beat the pants off of PS2, the race between GC and X-box is going to be close. But I still think that Nintendo will come out on top. Remember that Nintendo has been in the gaming business before Sony and Microsoft, so they have experience. Microsoft is trying to get their clammy hands into the gaming world, where I don't want them to be. They can just stick to making word processors and software. I'll stick with Nintendo. I believe that the Game Cube will exceed people's expectations, while the X-box will just be disappointing ( la Dreamcast).

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