Since February, we've known that Sony's upcoming PlayStation 4 console will have a "supercharged PC architecture" based on a custom AMD processor with GCN-derived graphics and eight Jaguar CPU cores. The chip's GPU and CPU elements will share 8GB of GDDR5 memory over an interface with a claimed 176GB/s of bandwidth, and the graphics component promises comparable horsepower to the Radeon HD 7850. Gamasutra recently discussed the PS4's underlying hardware with lead architect Mark Cerny, providing new insight on the guts of the console.
Cerny says the PS4's custom silicon incorporates not only the CPU and GPU, but also a "large number of other units." The chip has a dedicated audio unit to perform processing for voice chat and multiple audio streams. It also has a hardware block designed explicitly for zlib decompression. The main processor is backed by a secondary chip that enables an ultra-low-power mode for background downloading. In that mode, the CPU and GPU shut down, leaving only the auxiliary chip, system memory, networking, and storage active.
A 256-bit interface links the console's processor to its shared memory pool. According to Cerny, Sony considered a 128-bit implementation paired with on-chip eDRAM but deemed that solution too complex for developers to exploit. Sony has also taken steps to make it easier for developers to use the graphics component for general-purpose computing tasks. Cerny identifies three custom features dedicated to that mission:
If developers take advantage of the PS4's apparently robust support for mixed GPU workloads, we could see more compute tasks being offloaded to the GPU in PC games. Let's hope developers don't rely too much on Sony's customizations, though.
Interestingly, Cerny has little to say about the PS4's Jaguar-based CPU. All the focus on general-purpose GPU computing suggests the console's CPU component is relatively weak, which isn't a big surprise. Jaguar will replace AMD's low-power Bobcat CPU architecture, and it's designed primarily with mobile systems like tablets in mind.
|Here's the not-so-live video version of The TR Podcast 164||13|
|Here's what's cooking in Damage Labs||16|
|Deal of the week: An IPS ultra-wide for $420, plus cheap SSDs and more||20|
|Microsoft's quarterly revenue up 25% on strong Surface, Xbox sales||21|
|Assassin's Creed Unity PC requires 6GB of RAM, GTX 680||213|
|Join us as we attempt to live stream The TR Podcast tonight||13|
|Civ: Beyond Earth with Mantle aims to end multi-GPU microstuttering||68|
|CPU startup claims to achieve 3x IPC gains with VISC architecture||59|
|I just found this AMAZING trick! Call of Duty takes up 0GB if you just don't buy it!||+116|