Over the last couple of days there’s been a smattering of rumour posts regarding the two next generation consoles. In particular, the amount (and type) of RAM that the platform holders are making available – to games and the respective operation systems – in their new hardware, expected this year.
And whilst all this sounds like the playground discussion of the 16-bit era (“My Mega Drive Has Got BLAST PROCESSING”) there’s enough links between the otherwise disparate rumours that suggest that there might be something in this.
So, which one’s the Mega Drive and which is the SNES?
Well, one thread has tied the numbers together, and it looks like Sony are aiming at 4 GB next generation, and Microsoft a much meatier 8 GB. For reference, the PS3 has 512 MB just now.
The trick is that the PS4 (or whatever it’ll end up being called) will be using super fast GDDR5 memory, whilst the Xbox 720 will be using DDR3/4 chips. Is there then a balance between the two sets of specs? An even ground? Possibly.
The PS4’s RAM bandwidth is rumoured to be 192 GB/s, whilst the 720’s 64 GB/s. Remember, a lot of this is just speculation, but it does point to a split down the middle that could ultimately prove tricky for developers. 8 GB will be much better for open worlds, but the faster RAM better for effects in more constrained environments.
What you have to remember is that the operation systems still need to be loaded into memory along with the games, on PS3 that’s the XMB. It’s unlikely that the PS4 will need the entire OS (which could take up to a GB) but rather a smaller subset that expands when the game is paused. Indeed, whilst it’s not directly related, remember this?
And if Sony are aiming at 4K, they’ll need all the memory they can get.