How Will PS4 And Xbox Deal With Ever Increasing RAM Requirements? Umbra Dev Explains

How to circumvent the memory bottleneck.

Posted By | On 10th, Oct. 2016 Under News | Follow This Author @Pramath1605

Xbox One PS4

A trend has started to manifest in the last few generations of gaming- routinely, the first and most readily apparent bottleneck in game development, and especially console game development, is the amount of memory available. This was the case with the N64 and PlayStation, this was the case with the PS2 an Gamecube, this was the case with the Xbox 360 and especially the PS3- but one would have thought that, with 8GB of RAM each, the PS4 and Xbox One would be immune from memory bottlenecks for a while to come.

In a previous interview, Sampo Lappalainen, COO of Umbra Technologies, had been fairly critical about the memory in the new consoles. At this point, PC games are already surpassing 8-12GB as recommended requirements, so it would seem he was correct. So when we got the chance to sit down and talk with him again, we decided to ask him how consoles would deal with the memory bottlenecks that are already beginning to be apparent.

“Obviously more memory is be better, but in big picture it’s always more complicated than that,” he said. “Larger memories require faster memory bandwidths, otherwise it takes a long time to fill the memory. This problem can already be seen as somewhat lengthy load times and the problem would only be worse if the memories were simply made bigger. The vendors could also install more memory bandwidth, but this adds to the cost. How much more are the big masses willing to pay? Difficult questions.”

That said, Lappalainen did say that Umbra’s solution should help resolve a lot of these problems.

“Our new product will bring remedy to this problem. It will make it possible to stream in the least accurate version of the 3D scene into the memory first, display it immediately and then keep streaming in the more detailed version of the scene on the background. This almost entirely removes the need for load screens and makes hardware upgrades cheaper and less of a hassle too as you could simply plug-in more memory without upgrading the memory bandwidth.”

Whether or not Umbra’s technology holds the answer is something that remains to be seen- but at this point, I think it is rapidly becoming apparent that consoles are about to hit a wall with their capabilities, owing to the cap imposed on them by their memory pool. Somehow, having 16 times more memory than previous generation consoles wasn’t enough of an increase.

As always, I suppose we must hope that Sony and Microsoft are more prescient with how much memory they put into the successors for the PS4 and Xbox One.

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  • lusky3

    I’m a bit surprised this is news. Maybe I’m just crazy, but wasn’t this the idea behind the Xbox One when they announced it was being powered by 500,000 cloud servers? But that was also back when it was supposed to be an online only console.

    • Guest

      You obviously do not know what you are talking about.


      Sounds you don’t at all either.


      More falsified talks about what is not going to happen. Just like the cloud POWAH…..

    • Mark

      Not false man. The cloud can be used for a variety of things for games, and it already is. Forza uses it, Halo 5, TitanFall 1, heck even Sunset Overdrive. In most of these cases, Microsoft mainly uses cloud for dedicated servers, eg. low ping times or lag, and dedicated multiplayer stats (all Xbox multiplayer exclusives run on them). However, Crackdown 3 is using the cloud in a much more risky, but noticeable way; destruction. It actually uses a ton more RAM and Teraflop power that the Xbox One could only dream of, per David Jones (Crackdown 3 main dev).

      But u make a point, that Microsoft spoke way too soon at launch bragging about the cloud on Xbox One, tryna PR that thing lol. They had no project utilizing it that would make obvious, its potential. However, they weren’t technically lying.

    • TheCellGames

      Yeah, it was the idea. Sadly cloud computing had to be implemented in other ways like multiplayer modes. Not that I disagree with the choice. Using cloud computing would really limit the user base or split it due to the fact that not everyone has reliable internet speeds. Just look at PS Now. I wouldn’t want to deal with those disgusting high latency issues.

    • mj

      My understanding was the cloud was to be used for things not related to the visuals of the game, more of the AI side of games, so visuals/audio was kept local, allowing for all of your local XBO to concentrate on the pretty and the cloud to concentrate on the dirty.

    • Mark

      Actually u make a point. Crackdown 3 does use much much more RAM on Azure than Xbox One, to hold the data for all the buildings for when they’re collapsing and taking damage, changing their appearance and effect on the environment. So yes the cloud can add additional real time storage services to local static systems. David Jones (Crackdown 3 dev) said there’s a specific amount of RAM in the cloud allocated to each skyscraper.

  • hvd hvd

    click bait article for the $$$$$ other then that it called console optimization.

    if any one wonders why i said click bait this is how they get paid.every click $$$$$.


    Well the Xbox Scorpio Has 12G of GDDR5 Ram and games nowadays typically require 7G of ram so the PS4 PRO is already at a disadvantage because by the end of 2017 games will require 9G of Ram

    • Riggybro

      Well if you are comparing to PC both consoles are at a disadvantage.

      PC has split pools of VRAM on the GPU and additionally DDR3/4 of RAM.

      Many new AAA PC games coming out recently require 16 GB RAM plus a GPU with minimum 6GB VRAM for recommended settings.

      So theoretically a COMBINED 8GB or 12 GB pool of ram (if it were possible) on a PC would be at the lower-mid end of requirements…
      and then nearly half the console RAM is used by the OS etc… then there is the consoles CPU… :o/

      Developers will just work with what they are given on consoles.

    • Mr Xrat

      Kirk clinging to his sad speculation. Keep trying.

    • TheCellGames


    • TheCellGames

      12 gb of GDDR5? Where’d you get that from?

    • Mark

      Well there’s speculation based on the concept Scorpio trailer, where u can see 12 sticks of RAM around the processor, 4 by 4 by 4. Some people have asked Phil if this were true, and he replied with something like “That’s an interesting observation”, so he didn’t shoot it down like he usually does. Also, 4K textures will defenitely need more than 8GB of RAM. And In addition, Scorpio has a confirmed 320Gb/s bandwidth, and I don’t see them upping that memory speed so high, while using the same 8GB of RAM, doesn’t make sense. It’s actually the reverse; the reason there’s such an increase in bandwith on Scorpio, is because there’s an additional 4GB of RAM, and thus the system will need faster memory lanes to deliver all that 12GB of 4K textures in a good timeframe. This makes more sense to me. But we are still speculating about it tho…

    • TheCellGames

      Hm. I see, speculation based on some idea of what the console is. I understand and it actually makes sense. My oh my is Scorpio stronger than I thought.

    • Mark

      There’s even a possibility that Scorpio will use a ZEN CPU architecture from AMD, that’s way more powerful than the 8 core Jaguar in both the PS4 and X1. Now I’m not gonna get my hopes up for that, as I’m already impressed with the current specs. But hear me out, there’s alot of people anxious to see what CPU Microsoft uses, and if they do go with Zen, then that’ll be big. It will ideally give us 1080p (or 1440p) @60fps in all singleplayer games. 60 frames per second in single player games is uncommon, and even hard to do for devs. But imagine the Witcher at that high rate….oh my

    • angh

      Why to imagine Witcher? it already have 4k 120 fps. Get a PC, that what is it for: huge fps and resolution.
      And do not worry. On any console now and in future, no matter how powerful it is, 1080p/30 fps will be a standard. Why? because the power will not be used to have past-gen presentation with modern frames; they will increase visuals as much as possible and this will eat this power leaving little for fps. It hapen between xbox and xbox 360, 360 and xb1, and will happen in future.

    • TheCellGames

      True Witcher 3 on consoles. My little brother will drool all over it. I for one hope for 60 fps Dark Souls III

    • mj

      No one knows what the Scorpio has in terms of ram…thats just rumors and speculation.

    • angh

      first, scorpio do not exist.
      second, 2 years later ps5 will come out and xbox two 1-2 years after.
      Go for games, not brand of device which plays it.


    Takes longer to fill the memory with more…..HA! Yeah because that HDD is really screaming along in these systems putting more data towards that RAM in a manner it can not handle it. Should have put 16gb in these bad boys from the beginning, but they knew what they were doing from the beginning. Additional systems instead of making a solid system right from the beginning.

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