Sony have long boasted of the Playstation 4’s 8GB of GDDR5 unified memory. Unfortunately, there was little answer as to how much of the total memory was available for game developers to utilize, and how much was dedicated to the Operating System. And now, there has been evidence that 4.5GB of the 8GB of GDDR5 is available for games development, meaning a whopping 3.5GB of RAM is being taken up with operating system functionality. There is evidence however, that 1GB of memory is known as ‘flexible memory’, and can be pulled in from Operating System functionality, should it “allowed” by the OS.
The 4.5GB figure is considered to be the minimum amount of memory available for games developers to squeeze their code into. But, enter the “flexible memory”. Flexible Memory is 1GB of memory which game developers can tap in to. This will allow them to of course use better quality textures, fit in more sounds, characters, scenery and other game elements into RAM. Great – so the PS4 really has 5.5GB of RAM available for games then, right? Not so. It appears that tapping into this extra RAM is a bit of a painful process – and it’s likely that for awhile only first party developers will have the skill to make use of these extra resources. It’s also only if the Operating System can ‘spare it’ as far as we understand so far. If it’s tied up doing other things, then it can’t be used.
Some of you may remember previous leaks and rumors regarding PS4 RAM, stating that originally 512MB of the 4GB (back before the system had 8GB) was being used for the OS. We then heard a slew of rumors stating that this was no longer the case, and the best guesses was that out of the 8GB of GDDR5, 1GB was being used for the OS. So, the question is – what the heck happened to swallow up all of this extra RAM?
Where did the PS4’s memory go?
The answer is – features. Things such as being able to record game footage, browsing the internet, better social functions and much more swallow up RAM pretty quickly. That’s not to mention things such as drivers, API’s and basic operating system code which is required for the console to do much more than show a power light.
The Xbox One and PS4 are looking very similar right now = with the Xbox One and Playstation 4 most likely using 2 cores from the pool of 8 total of their AMD Jaguar’s for OS. The AMD Jaguar for both systems is two modules of four – giving eight cores total. The AMD Jaguar can only handle one hardware thread per core, meaning that there’s two threads for the OS, and Six more for games. We do know that that Xbox One’s GPU (despite being less powerful out of the gate) also has 10 percent of its resources for the Operating System functions too. I’ve written 2 Killzone analysis articles which go into more detail on resources. Main Killzone analysis & Lighting Analysis
So the question is – will any of this change over time. Sony have a past history of reducing memory usage for its OS. Back in early 2010, Sony managed to get 70MB of extra RAM freed up for games developers. It wasn’t as though it managed to creep into your house while you weren’t looking and soldered it into your console. Instead, as one might expect, it did so by reducing the footprint of the Operating System. It’s possible that given this past history that Sony will be able to do similar for the Playstation 4. It’s unknown if the same thing could happen regarding the CPU cores, one would hope this would be the case – but just like memory, it’s certainly not writing on the wall.
Right now, none of this has been confirmed by Sony – so we’ll have to wait and see if they respond to this. Hopefully, it’ll be with a “not true”.
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