Although the PlayStation 4 was designed to be like a personal computer in a bid to simplify development of video games, it is still a lot different than personal computers, according to game developers who are working on titles for the PS4. As it appears, the difference between custom system and off-the-shelf PC is pretty huge, yet the technical director or Guerrilla Games did not reveal too many details about it.
Michiel Van Der Leeuw, the technical director of Guerrilla Games, which is a studio that belongs to Sony Computer Entertainment and which is currently working on Killzone Shadow Fall title due late this year, claims that there are loads of Sony intellectual property in the architecture of the PlayStation 4 in general and inside the custom AMD Fusion chip in particular. Moreover, the architecture with ultra-fast unified memory architecture can do wonders to games that are developed with this in mind. In addition, there are various AMD’s enhancements that the company calls “heterogeneous system architecture” and which speeds up software designed for both x86 processors and highly-parallel GPUs.
“The fact that the best pieces of hardware are also devised from, or optimised versions of, the stuff we find in PCs does not make [PS4] any less a console. […]Whereas if you have a PC very often your buffs, or your express buffs are very slow compared to your video RAM which is GDDR5 and your main RAM then is even slower than that, but you compensate by sticking buffers in there… there’s a lot of things to contemplate in the fact that it is a replaceable-parts architecture. This [PS4] is where all of the parts are designed to work together, naturally,” said Mr. Van Der Leeuw in an interview with the Edge Magazine.
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.
The technical director of Guerrilla Games said that the studio was part of a constant iteration process with PS4′s hardware. Guerrilla made at least five different major changes to the graphics adapter, microprocessor and on the bandwidth between the different components, to define and then eliminate any disruption in performance.
“A PC is a number of parts which also has bridges in between where there are inefficiencies that may not be exactly the right match. We’ve got the right amount of memory, video card, everything balanced out. I know it was a very conscious effort to make sure that, with the speed of the memory, the amount of compute units, the speed of the hard-drive that we put in, that there would not be any bottlenecks. So the amount of pixel-pushers that you have, the amount of memory, the speed of your compute units make sure that you don’t hit any of the weakspots of the hardware,” explained Mr. Van Der Leeuw.