John Carmack, a legendary developer of iconic titles like Doom and Quake, has endorsed the PC-like architecture of Sony PlayStation 4 video game console. Mr. Carmack has criticized the architecture of the PlayStation 3 and Cell processor because of complexities and modest development tools, but approved architecture of Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360.
“I cannot speak freely about PS4, but now that some specs have been made public, I can say that Sony made wise engineering choices,” said John Carmack, technical director of id Software, in a Twitter post.
Many – if not virtually all – game developers have criticized Sony for choosing heterogeneous multi-core Cell processor to power the PlayStation 3 as the chip was rather tough to develop for. Sony has also got a fair amount of critics for its arrogant attitude to game developers and inefficient software development tools.
Sony adopted industry-standard multi-core x86 general-purpose processor and custom PC-architecture graphics processor with the PlayStation 4. Moreover, Sony not only has leading-edge development tools for the PS4 platform, but also gives a lot more freedom to game developers compared to the PS3 days and even compared to what Microsoft allegedly gives with the Xbox Next code-named “Durango”, according to media reports.
Back in the days, Mr. Carmack praised Microsoft Xbox 360 for being able to program console on low-level, getting close to metal, just like in his “good-old days” of DOS, Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. Today, Sony is reportedly encouraging PS4 “Orbis” coders to “get closer to the metal” than is currently possible on Durango. The generally liberal approach will let talented game developers to create beautifully-looking games.
Unfortunately, id Software and John Carmack these days no longer release new titles often. It is unclear whether id is working on a brand-new title for Sony PlayStation 4, third-generation Microsoft Xbox and PCs, or is just porting existing titles (e.g., Rage) onto the next-generation consoles.
It is interesting to note that last year the legendary game developer was not really excited about the next-gen PlayStation and Xbox, but praised virtual reality glasses.
"In many ways I am not all that excited about the next generation. It will let us do everything we want to do now, with the knobs turned up. [...] Sony and Microsoft are going to fight over gigaflops and teraflops and GPUs and all this. In the end, it will not make that much difference. When you get to this, it makes a really big difference in the experience," said Mr. Carmack in mid-2012.
Sony PlayStation 4 is based on a semi-custom AMD Fusion system-on-chip that integrates eight AMD x86 Jaguar cores, custom AMD Radeon HD core with unified array of 18 AMD GCN-like compute units (1152 stream processors which collectively generate 1.84TFLOPS of computer power that can freely be applied to graphics, simulation tasks, or some mixture of the two), various special-purpose hardware blocks as well as multi-channel GDDR5 memory controller.
The PS4 will come with 8GB of unified GDDR5 memory sub-system (with 176GB/s bandwidth) for both CPU and GPU as well as large-capacity hard disk drive. Sony PS4 will be equipped with Blu-ray disc drive capable of reading BDs at 6x and DVDs at 8x speeds, USB 3.0 connectivity in addition to a proprietary aux port, Gigabit Ethernet port, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 EDR wireless technology