AMD: Sony PlayStation 4 Will Show Ultimate Physics Realism Thanks to Heterogeneous Architecture

AMD’s Chief Graphics Architect Praises Sony’s PS4 Architecture

by Anton Shilov
04/10/2013 | 11:57 PM

John Gustafson, chief product architect at graphics business unit of Advanced Micro Devices and a renowned industry veteran, praises the heterogeneous system architecture of Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 4 as well as its ultra-fast unified memory sub-system. In addition to advanced graphics, Mr. Gustafson expects PlayStation 4 to provide high-quality physics effects.


“The PlayStation 4 blew me away but I am conscious about being too positive about it because of course we have other partners that are competing. […] It looks like they did an extremely good job of the engineering. The CPU and the GPU are on the same chip, which solves a lot of the problems, e.g., you do not have to toss things over to a graphics card and try to get them back and forth,” said Mr. Gustafson in an interview with web-site.

Going into specifics, chief product architect at graphics business unit of AMD clarified how he thinks next-generation physics engines on the PlayStation to be more realistic compared to existing physics engines. John Gustafson also praised 8GB GDDR5 unified memory with whopping 176GB/s bandwidth, which should be enough for both general-purpose microprocessor cores as well as graphics engine.

Previously numerous game developers have also emphasized very powerful memory sub-system of the PlayStation 4, excellent balance of general-purpose and graphics execution units, lack of bottlenecks, ease of game development thanks to industry-standard components as well as heterogeneous computing capabilities in general.

Although the Cell microprocessor designed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba, which powers PlayStation 3, is one of the industry’s true heterogeneous multi-core chips, which could theoretically allow game developers to make ultimate things, it is so hard to develop for Cell that few games actually take complete advantage of all the benefits that the chip has to offer. With the semi-custom AMD Fusion chip inside the PlayStation 4 the situation seems to be different.

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 as well as HDMI, optical and analog outputs. The new system will also utilize new DualShock 4 game controller with integrated touchpad as well as better motion sensing thanks to new PS4 Eye tracking cameras.