Latest Rumour Suggests PS4 Will Have Half The RAM Of Xbox 720

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.



  1. If the PS4 does have half of the amount of RAM that the xbox3 has, we will get more half arsed ports. As that has been the case with the PS3’s very small amount of ram as well as some other reasons but i suspect 4GB is more then enough for the developers to work with in order to push out a lot of decent ports. In fact, i think most PC games only use 2-4GB as the standard set up. Can see the Xbox 3 only using 8GB of ram with exclusive titles as it won’t be worthwhile to use 8GB of Ram on one platform whilst the other 2 only have 4GB(have forgotten how much Ram the Wii U has). It is a massive improvement though as i suspect the latest phones have more ram then the PS3 have. :O

    • The Wii-U “next-gen” console has 2 GB very slow ram :P

      • It has the same RAM that the 360 is rumoured to have. Honestly, MS are making a bad call here.

        Related, from the article:
        “And if Sony are aiming at 4K, they’ll need all the memory they can get.”
        I don’t mean to be insulting but that’s just not how VRAM works. Let’s say that the PS4 is targetting 60fps. With 64GB/s, you can only use ~1.07GB to compose a frame, any more memory than that is purely for cache. With a bandwidth of 192GB/s, you can use 3.2GB to compose a frame, almost all of your RAM.

        The bigger your render target, the higher bandwidth you need, because more of your frame bandwidth is taken up by the render target. If my calculations are right, a 4K render/depth target would take up 253MB per frame, if you only had 1.07GB of bandwidth, the actual game assets that you want to render could only use 0.82GB/frame. Which is barely better than current gen.

    • It may not matter during the first years, but towards the end of the life cycle it could be huge. It won’t take long for developers to use up the RAM gap between 2GB and 8GB, especially with all the new light effects. I think alot of devs will develop for 8GB and if their game becomes popular enough they will just licence out the PS4 version to another developer, kinda like the PS3 version of The Orange Box.

  2. Could this lead to a reverse of the current situation, games will be dumbed down to run on the ps4, meaning nobody uses the extra power of the x720?

    • Isn’t that akin to what happens now?

      • I always understood the ps3 had more power?

      • The PS3 does, overall, just about have more power, but it’s hidden away behind horribly complicated SPEs and split RAM which cause problems.

      • The speed of the RAM is FAR more important than the quantity.

        You want to get stuff to the rendering engine and out to the display as quick as possible.

        As with the current gen, Sony have got it 100% right (The PS3’s XDR RAM is in the region of 5x the speed of that in the XBox360). It’s just shame that everything is dumbed down to suit the Xbox. (aside from PS3 exclusives).

        Of course Microsoft will prime all the fanboys again that the PS4 is complex to develop for and all that nonsense..

  3. Bethesda must be loving Sony right now. :-P

    • Rumour has it, they’ve sent someone round to Sony with a bunch of flowers and a box of chocolates. That same rumour also indicates the flowers are lagging and the chocolates are lacking textures.

      • HA! I LOL’D hard

      • It’s all speculation. In fact, they did sent Microsoft some flowers but they said that the a similar set of flowers will only arrive at Sony next month… Or maybe only Q2…

  4. “And if Sony are aiming at 4K, they’ll need all the memory they can get.”

    if 4K yes they do ;-)

    • (I’m not buying a 4K anytime soon.. so do not really care..)

  5. Interesting stuff. Then again, when I see the memory that my PC games are taking up, 4GB still sounds like quite a bit. Okay… a lot!

    Saying that, is this RAM just for the machine and not for the graphics card/chip or will the GPU be using this as well? My 7950 has 3GB of RAM itself so it might be far more in line with what’s been mentioned and that the console is anything but “future proofed”. Silly phrase but it makes sense. :-)

    • If it’s GDDR5, then that’s unified between “system” and “graphics”, yes. But it’s exceedingly fast, too.

      The use of GDDR3 in the PS3 and 360 means that their smaller caches of RAM are still quite a bit faster than the DDR3 which is shoved into the WiiU. Part of the reason why some of the early ports over to the WiiU aren’t that much better or more stable in frame rate than they are on the older consoles.

      Personally, I’d take 4GB GDDR5 over 8GB DDR3 any day of the week.

    • My graphics card has 4GB of GDDR 5 just for itself, stupid expensive and only really useful for multi-monitor at insane res though, not much need for it otherwise ;)
      4GB for the whole system *feels* a bit low to a PC user but without the OS overheads and with a single monitor approach it may be perfectly adequate.

    • Let’s remember that PC games require 2GB and this amount is shared with the Windows OS which is itself a memory hog.

  6. I’m sure this issue won’t be a massive issue, and if it does turn out to be a disaster and games don’t arrive on the PS4 because its underpowered then it’ll probably mean Sony step up the push for first party games, yay!

    Back in the PS1- N64 days, what was the difference between those? Was it 32mb vs 64ms RAM? Bless those glorious machines and their tiny numbers.

    • Generally speaking, 4GBytes RAM memory for an application is an ocean of memory. There are other issues such as computational complexity that prevents dealing with extra-large data structures.

      Generally speaking, I’d expect 4GBytes or more (8GBytes) for general purpose multitasking operating systems. That’s just not the case about game consoles. In a game console the important thing is that it is capable of properly executing the game, that it is inexpensive (remember the $400 figure…) and that it has low TCO (not an energy hog, not a frequent visitor of repair shops, etc).

      Get any AAA game running on a PC/Windows. Them exclude memory in use by windows, then exclude memory in use by background processes (anti-virus, etc) and you’ll see that 512MBytes is the figure that represents max memory usage for the game.

  7. GDDR5 is DDR3 Ram and DDR4 is very expensive where as DDR3 Ram is dirt cheap.

  8. Whatever the hardware specs, I’m sure they will be more than enough for what they want the PS4 to do, that all that matters to me. I trust Sony to build a decent machine, that doesn’t break after a few weeks. Lets hope they do it again.

    • I won’t be buying it release day anyway, I’m going to leave it a few months to see which is actually the best system. I love my PS3, but if the 720 turns out to be the better console, I’ll be making the switch.

      Also, i have no interest in 4K.

      • I’m with you on that. I’m not being blinded by any sort of brand loyalty, the better console will win my purchase. I’ve learnt that there’s no point owning both, too many of my friends ended up with one console gathering dust.

  9. Well that would go hand in hand with the AMD APU similarity for the CPU+GPU combo. Using GDDR5 as the only memory pool will enable better GPU bandwidth much akin to this:
    Whether 4 GB will be enough for both CPU and GPU is debately clearly, but I think for the immediate and short term future 4GB of faster RAM is much better for this configuration.

    • A cool feature that I just dreamed up: if the console manufacturers go down a subscription/contract based route with a cheaper initial purchase, could that open the door for a RAM upgrade further down the line i.e. when costs of the console (and GDDR5) have come down enough to allow for a hardware ‘refresh’ including systems people already own.

      • Upgradable hardware won’t really work with consoles though because Dev’s will always have to make their games able to run on the minimum specs that the PS4 had when it was released. Unless they allowed you to tweak the settings like PC games.

      • @Gazza
        and how is that any different to PC architecture now?

        They could release 2 versions of the game, one with hi-res textures, one without.

        It does complicate things when you have bigger maps, like battlefield games for instance, or GTA.

      • It could work, but only to a certain extent. As the consoles lifespan increases, you would expect the capabilities to increase to if people were to upgrade their PS4s. But Devs will need to make sure their games can still run on a launch day PS4 with no upgrades. If we’re looking at an 8 year lifecycle, you can imagine a lot of development forwards for the PS4. Can you imagine an 8year old PC running the latest PC game today, even on minimum?

      • What I was implying was that by the refresh point Sony could send out the upgrade for people to slot into their PS4’s (using an expansion slot – so no scary opening). I know it really doesn’t like it would happen (I live in my own little sphere) but there should be very little in the way of preventing this. It wouldn’t provide any benefit for existing software but it would allow for newer titles to follow the PC generation a little better.

      • Here’s an idea: offering a PS2 on a plug-in module for, say, £50 allowing B/C…

        Alternatively, how-about an optional PS3 module, if the rumours over non-existant B/C in PS4 are true? Or is this just something we have to ‘get over’ and ‘put behind us, Year-Zero style? Y’know – starting over and flogging off the hard-fought collection one more time… Just so we can re-buy it five years hence, like so many lab-rats?

      • It’s a good idea, especially the expansion slot, but it will only work for developers if nearly all owners purchase the upgrade.
        The point is a PS4 bought on day one, should still be able to play all the games right up until the very final game – that’s the whole point of a console.

      • Am I the only one who actually remembers the TSA article about Sony patenting something like a RAM expansion? That would actually make sense. Keep costs down at the beginning of the lifecycle and once the RAM becomes an issue, allow people to upgrade. The next Elder Scrolls game will come out eventually and hopefully Sony is not betting on Bethesda getting it right next time. :P

  10. Man these ‘Rumours’ are BORING. It makes every Gaming site look like LoL:D

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