We’ll see the full benefits of PS4 not at launch, but a bit later down when developers start taking full advantage of the machine, the console’s chief architect, Mark Cerny said recently.
That’s what he told Edge in a recent interview, adding that he wanted to make sure that there were lots of fun little features in the console that people could enjoy in the later years of its life cycle.
Well, as a programmer myself, I wanted to be sure that there were lots of fun little features in the hardware that people could really explore in the later years of the console lifecycle. So when it came down to designing the feature set for years three and four of the console, that isn’t something where the development community could contribute as broadly because it had much more to do with personal vision about where GPGPU was going. I definitely did pitch it to a broad variety of teams and get their feedback, but there were many, many small and large decisions that had to be made in terms of actually creating the details of that hardware.
And just as it took developers some years to unlock all the potential of PS3, Mark Cerny says he believes PS4′s GPU and CPU structure could work to together and bring to life other tasks apart from visual fidelity — although he stressed the importance of said aspect of games. The whole point is that the full potential of PS4 will not immediately be realized, but as developers become more familiar with the console, new techniques will be used and a lot more will be garnered out of the machine.
There are definitely some features in the PlayStation 4 that start to get used broadly in the third or fourth year of the console lifecycle. It’s all about how the GPU and CPU can work together to do many tasks other than graphics, which is say that photorealism is a great target, but that world simulation is also important. This is underappreciated, but getting your audio right in a game and making sure that your character’s ears are really hearing what they should within the game universe takes a tremendous amount of processing power. And there’s a lot of features in the GPU to support asynchronous fine-grain computing. ‘Asynchronous’ is just saying it’s not directly related to graphics, ‘fine grain’ is just saying it’s a whole bunch of these running simultaneously on the GPU. So I think we’re going to see the benefits of that architecture around 2016 or so.
With the PlayStation 4, it’s even such things as the share cores have a beautiful instruction set and can’t be programmed in assembly. If you were willing to invest the time to do that, you could do some incredibly efficient processing on the GPU for graphics or for anything else. But the timeframe for that kind of work would not be now. I don’t even think it would be three years from now.