Next-gen discussion has descended into hearsay and rumours of late, with little hard facts emerging despite the general consensus being that both Sony and Microsoft will unveil new hardware next year.
However, a patent filing for “DYNAMIC CONTEXT SWITCHING BETWEEN ARCHITECTURALLY DISTINCT GRAPHICS PROCESSORS” has been picked up, and it at least hints at what the PlayStation 4 might be capable of and points to a possible chip set distribution.
Yes, it’s just a patent application and in no way guarantees what the PS3’s successor might be doing under the hood, but it’s better than the usual fluff.
“Graphics processing in a computer graphics apparatus having architecturally dissimilar first and second graphics processing units (GPU) is disclosed,” says the filing.
“Graphics input is produced in a format having an architecture-neutral display list. One or more instructions in the architecture neutral display list are translated into GPU instructions in an architecture specific format for an active GPU of the first and second GPU.”
If Context Switching isn’t something you normally discuss over the dinner table, help is at hand. It basically means that one program currently running can be swapped out with another, with internal memory used as a holding pen for the inactive application. However, in this particular patent it looks like the ‘inactive’ application can be run on the other processor – in theory they’d be running at the same time.
Real world applications? Window-in-window gaming, or – more likely – the ability to run one application on a tablet (or – yes, streamed to a PS Vita) whilst the other processor handles the lion’s share of the work pushing content to the TV.
Regardless, it does look like Sony are aiming at a APU + GPU combination, with presumably one high powered GPU and one lower powered (Mobile?) one.
There’s a little more here. The plot thickens.