Sony's Mark Cerny discusses why the PS4 will use an x86 architecture

By Shawn Knight · 63 replies
Apr 26, 2013
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  1. Much has been said about Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 4 although a large portion of the system still remains unknown. One thing we do know, however, is that the console is based on an x86 processor instead of a proprietary chip...

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  2. Sunny87

    Sunny87 TS Enthusiast Posts: 115   +11

    "Cerny also touched on the system?s unified architecture with 8GB of GDDR5, suggesting that it could help the PS4 trump a gaming PC in hertz-for-hertz performance. He said it was something that developers wanted so they delivered. As he explained, a PC with 8GB of GPU memory would only be able to share about 1 percent of that memory on any given frame. It all comes down a limitation of the speed of PCIe, he noted.

    The GPU and CPU in the PS4 are on a single, custom chip created by AMD that is similar to an AMD APU. The memory isn?t on the same chip but a 256-bit bus lets it access RAM at 176GB/s, eliminating any sort of bottlenecks. He said the strategy was simply to use GDDR5 memory and make sure it had plenty of bandwidth."

    One great big fart!! What **** is this guy talking?

    A:Unified memory = on board graphics in my eyes = saving money
    B:Gaming PC's now have PCI-E3.0 graphics cards with 384 Bit-memory bus.
    C:pC's have more GPU power and better CPU's, APU's suck *** especially AMD APU's
    D:Sony went x86 to save money no other reason

    I'd like to see the PS4 try and outperform a Haswell CPU and 2x GTX960 graphics card combo or titan sli with 16GB DDR3 1866MHz memory...competes with a gaming PC my bum!
    SalaSSin likes this.
  3. Sunny87

    Sunny87 TS Enthusiast Posts: 115   +11

    GTX690 sorry
    GunsAblazin likes this.
  4. Demigod001

    Demigod001 TS Rookie Posts: 21

    While he is right that the ps4 would trump a pc on a hertz for hertz basis the ps4 runs slower, by quite a bit, than most pc's on that basis. We need to know some more about the APU to really say much about it but to be honest Ill be surprised if it matches a mid/high end 7000 series card probably more a low/mid end.
  5. LukeDJ

    LukeDJ TS Maniac Posts: 350   +112

    I'd like to see this super PC for the price of a PS4 console.

    I'm a PC guy myself, but if you're going to criticise a product at least do it right.
    SantistaUSA likes this.
  6. Gragodine

    Gragodine TS Rookie

    I would also like to see that pc cost $400
    All of your points A-D are also completely invalid

    A: There is nothing wrong with "onboard" graphics as long as it does it's job well
    B: Just because PCI has a wide buss doesn't mean the GPU can access and use the system memory as frame buffer. To my knowledge it can only use the ~2gb the card is equiped with.
    C:I didn't know anyone other than AMD made APU's. Also an apu that can match an I3 in cpu and destroy it in gpu task with lower system heat/power is a win in my book.
    D:This one... I dont really think you know what you are talking about.
  7. Mandark

    Mandark TS Booster Posts: 76   +22

    No. You are so wrong. The Cell isn't even that great. It is a horrible piece of **** by comparison because it was NEVER FULLY UTILIZED because its just too difficult. game ports suffer for this crap as well. They did it for BETTER GAMES development and for developers.
  8. There's something I dont get.
    If the architecture is x86 wont this mean that it's still going to be a bottleneck for x64 PCs?
    I get that it will be way easier to port in and out now and I congratulate sony for going with an architecture that will make developers focus more on their games and not on getting new programers to work with a whole new programing language and architecture, lets hope that some great games come out as a result of that and with shorter development cycles.

    PS: I wrote this because I read this a while ago and now this got me thinking that perhaps consoles are going to bottleneck this advancement for a few more years.
  9. MonsterZero

    MonsterZero TS Evangelist Posts: 440   +223

    Short answer yes. The bottleneck will be the underutilized CPU performing with x86 coding. Hey at least it will never run hot!

    I have a feeling this is not Sony's heavy hitter, there will be a product refresh soon down the road, especially with crap specs such as these.
  10. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,002   +2,532

    Dude, the last PC game I bought was Atari "Scrabble", and even I know this is utter nonsense. Comparing a high end PC gaming rig to a game console, is like comparing a bushel of apples, to an orange slice.(n)
    captainawesome likes this.
  11. lawfer

    lawfer TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,270   +91

    Reading comprehension in some of these commenters really does paint a sad picture of the American education system.
  12. TorturedChaos

    TorturedChaos TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 839   +29

    I am sad to see that they went with the x86 over cell architecture. After all the R&D they put into the cell architecture for the ps3 I was excited to see what they would do with it on the ps4. It seemed to have great untap possibility, and now that the coders had some practice coding for the cell architecture it shouldn't be as much of a challenge as it was the first tie around
  13. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    What's the difference in price between your stated system & a PS4?
  14. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    They were the only saps that used the Cell architecture. X86 makes a hell of a lot more sense. AND it's cheaper. It's a no brainer.
  15. Vrmithrax

    Vrmithrax TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,352   +293

    My turn!

    A. Unified memory does typically indicate an APU kind of situation. But it also means that the onboard GPU has access to much more memory than a typical discrete embedded GPU would.

    B. As a few others have indicated, the size of the bus does not mean it's fully utilized at all times. And every time you have to communicate through a bus, you have potential lags and hitches in your throughput.

    C. Not sure what you are saying. PCs have more GPU power when they add a discrete graphics card that can cost anywhere from half to 3 times the retail cost of a PS4. Is that your point for comparison? Current APUs actually have pretty amazing performance on the graphics crunching front, don't necessarily have the superior processing speed, but that's not as important in a gaming rig. Or did you not know that? It's a confusing point you are making, at best.

    D. Did you not even read the article? Sony was the odd man out, going with their cell processor, and making it more work for developers to create effective games, particularly when they wanted to have multi-platform versions. It's going to save the game developers a ton of money, and make it easier for the "should we make a PS4 version?" question to be answered positively.

    Honestly, thought, it's the last comment that sums it all up for me. Every console released in the last 20 years has been obsolete (hardware-wise) before it even launched. None of them have come close to even a mid-range PC gaming rig that used current technology for that time period. Let alone being compared to a ridiculous high-end rig that costs enough to buy 5 consoles (the Titan alone is double the price of a PS4). Yet, consoles "compete" with PC gaming every day, and the console market makes far more money than the PC side...

    Yes, the "trump a gaming PC in the hertz-for-hertz performance" comment was a little out there, but it may technically be true - consider that the embedded APU in the PS4 will probably run at lower cycles than a hopped up PC, but may be more efficient per Hz. And, since it's a unified and consistent platform, the games developed for it can more efficiently target the exact hardware, rather than having to generalize many things to cover the near-infinite hardware combination possibilities of a gaming PC. It's all about creating buzz and positive PR when a new product is launching, and if you are shocked at some of the poetic license and number/performance skewing that occurs, you probably haven't been paying attention to all of the product launches in the past...
    m4a4 and davislane1 like this.
  16. What people don't understand is that Sony's systems have always used a high bandwidth architecture but that has never given them an advantage. There are GPUs with more than 176GB of bandwidth and PC GPUs also have the ability to use system RAM so it's just PR bluster.
  17. baN893

    baN893 TS Enthusiast Posts: 83   +10

    It really does.
    dikbozo likes this.
  18. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,737   +3,757

    Where in the article did it say the PS4 would outperform a top end gaming machine?

    Furthermore, consoles aren't purchased for their raw power and flexibility; they're purchased for cost effective gaming. Comparing a $500 console to a $2,000+ PC for gaming is like cross shopping a Golf GTI with a Mclaren P1 for track time -- utterly invalid. While I thoroughly enjoy playing games on high spec rigs, a console that can deliver adequate performance at a fraction of the cost is a lot easier to justify than a desktop behemoth with a financing plan.

    That said, I'm glad Sony has decided to be more dev friendly this time around. I had high hopes for the Cell architecture in the PS3, but it's taken several years for developers to begin utilizing its real potential. Switching to x86 and actually incorporating some resources this time around should yield some exciting products early in the PS4 lifecycle. Kind of disappointed they didn't go with x64, though.
  19. Gragodine

    Gragodine TS Rookie

    We don't need no education............
    dikbozo likes this.
  20. havok585

    havok585 TS Booster Posts: 155   +27

    Well americans do need some real education. Maybe go overseas where the real knowledge is.
    dikbozo and Saintnsinner like this.
  21. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,186   +469

    Are you quite sure they are all American? ;)
    captainawesome likes this.
  22. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,002   +2,532

    That's exactly right! At least if you don't want to do anything besides lay around, take drugs, and analyze Pink Floyd's "The Wall" all day.

    Meh, they might as well be. The world blames most of their troubles on us anyway
  23. Which GPUs are you referring to? I thought Nvidia is planning to use Unified Memory technology for upcoming GPUs (discrete) in the near-future.
  24. killeriii

    killeriii TS Enthusiast Posts: 213   +14

    x64 is an extension to the x86 architecture, not a processor in itself.
    Current x86 processors add many extensions to the x86 core. (mmx, sse, 3dnow, x64, etc.)
    Seeing as this is a current cpu from AMD, I would assume it includes ALL current extensions, including x64.
  25. GunsAblazin

    GunsAblazin TS Enthusiast Posts: 75

    Sony makes more money on game sales than selling consoles. In a way they are subsidized by game sales. If it weren't the price of the console would be through the roof, and that's not because the hardware is that expensive; it's for R&D, marketing etc. If they could get it to outperform a $1000 with a dedicated GPU more power to them, but I'm sceptical at this point. The last I've heard an x86 system can only use 4GB of RAM, so Sony must have done some magic.

    btw many GPU's come with more than 2GBs of memory especially the 384-bit one's.

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