Developing games for a console like the PlayStation 4 is always going to be a challenge, as there's a limited amount of fairly modest hardware that needs to be split between games and the console's operating system. Realizing that perhaps the PlayStation 4's OS was utilizing too many resources, Sony has allegedly given game developers access to more CPU horsepower.
The report, originating from Beyond3D and corroborated by Eurogamer, suggests that Sony has recently unlocked the 7th CPU core inside the PS4's semi-custom eight-core AMD APU. Previously the console gave developers access to six cores, leaving the other two cores to run the OS, but this update has taken a core from the OS and given it to developers.
Considering the PlayStation 4 is not a powerful gaming machine, at least in comparison to a good desktop PC, giving an extra CPU core to game developers will allow them to achieve somewhat better performance, effects and visuals in new games. It's not a big change, but where hardware is limited, every extra resource a developer can use will come in handy.
By Sony giving developers access to a core previously reserved for system tasks, it's not clear exactly how this will affect the console, and how much processing time developers will actually get on the seventh core. One source told Eurogamer that the core will be split between user and system activity, but didn't reveal to what extent.
However, it is clear that existing PlayStation 4 games will not suddenly be able to access the seventh core due to the way these games are developed. Instead, developers will either need to update their games with support for extra resources (which is unlikely), or use these resources in future titles.
This isn't the first time a console manufacturer has given developers access to extra hardware after its release. Late last year, Microsoft gave developers access to the Xbox One's seventh processing core, providing the same benefits as the PlayStation 4's unlocked seventh core. Now, across both consoles, developers have access to similar resources.