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Xbox One frees up extra computing power for developers

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Microsoft has opened up the amount of computing power developers can access in the Xbox One, according to an analysis of the console's software development kit by Eurogamer's Digital Foundry.

The SDK was made public earlier this week by hackers, claiming they did so in the name of "creativity and research." Digital Foundry peeked inside and notes that Microsoft has recently opened access to an additional processing core (of eight total).

Digital Foundry noted that originally, the Xbox One reserved two full cores for running its background operating system (as does the PlayStation 4.) In the latest SDK, developers may access "50 to 80 percent of a seventh core," they report.

This "may partly explain why a small amount of multi-platform titles released during Q4 2014 may have possessed performance advantages over their PS4 counterparts in certain scenarios," Digital Foundry said.

The extra power comes at cost. Games can't use custom voice commands, and some functions of the Kinect 2.0 sensor are disabled. Accessing the seventh core also is risky because system-related voice commands can take up half of its capability, overriding whatever else has been assigned there.

Digital Foundry has given a very detailed examination of the SDK and the changes, and what they mean (and have meant) for Xbox One games of late. As for whether the SDK's leak could affect the system's security, "The truth is that Xbox One is just as secure now as it was before the leak," Digital Foundry writes. The reasons why are in the link.