Killzone Shadow Fall Using 3 GB RAM: How Does This Affect Future PS4 Games?

The future’s bright. The future only uses 4GB of RAM.

Posted By | On 19th, May. 2013 Under Article, Feature | Follow This Author @GNReith

Don’t you just love it when speculation on new consoles gets technical? Anyone growing up in the nineties will firmly remember the obsession with 16 and 32 bit machines, an arbitrary measurement of power that, to this day, still doesn’t say much about what went on under the hood of these systems.

Rumours are far more concrete in the 21st century, but it doesn’t exactly detail how a console’s games will turn out. We may know graphics chips and RAM numbers, but we never get a sense of how games will use this power. After all, the PS3 was the most powerful system of this generation, but its full capabilities have only ever been harnessed by a few select developers since its launch in 2006.

So, having had mere speculation before on what the PS4 could do, it was great to see some games in action back at Sony’s February reveal. Killzone: Shadow Fall was arguably the highlight of the titles on display, and Guerilla Games have released a huge document detailing the tech stuff going on behind the scenes of their Killzone demo. It’s an enlightening read, with plenty of highlights that really get you thinking about how developers will use the power of the PS4 in the future.

The biggest highlight of the document is the use of RAM. Easily the most banal part of any PC’s internals, the RAM in the PS4 is unique for being of the super-fast GDDR5 variety. Considering most PC gamers are still content getting maxed out settings on DDR3 RAM modules, the extra speed of the PS4’s memory could really help make its visuals seem truly next gen. Guerilla have described having quicker memory as “awesome,” which is as promising a word as any.

Killzone Shadow fall set piece

Though RAM might not be the most important component for gaming, there’s a lot to be said for how it’s currently being used. Guerilla supposedly used 3GB of RAM for the demo’s visuals. This is in keeping with the RAM usage in most contemporary PC games, but it barely puts a dent in the system’s massive 8GB memory reserves. Granted, this RAM store is more to future-proof the system, but just imagine how games will be if they start using the full set of system memory.

Though polygons aren’t exactly the standard by which we judge game visuals any more, there was an interesting increase in polygon counts in Shadow Fall over KZ3; four times the polygons to be precise. The jump from 10K to 40K polygons per character is quite a leap and, though it’s getting to the point where increased polygons don’t offer a huge amount of obvious visual improvements, this extra level of detail will be what sets next generation graphics apart from what we’ve been used to this generation.


Some other impressive numbers show up in the demo tech sheet. 8200 physics objects and 500 particle systems and real-time reflections are of note. Seemingly baffling numbers like this would never be possible on a PS3. What’s more surprising is that all of this was achieved with Guerilla Games creating their own CPU and GPU profiler. Official profiling tools for the PS4’s innards are still rudimentary this early on in development so, if Guerilla are already getting this kind of performance with home developed profilers, we can only guess what kind of an improvement official tools will bring.

There’s a similar level of uncertainty going on here with regards to what developers have access to of the system, and what they’re aware of. Just Add Water CEO Stewart Gilray has said that the 8GB RAM totals were kept secret from third party developers until recently. This may explain why Guerilla only used 4GB RAM in total for the Killzone Shadow Fall demo. Though we now know the full extent of the PS4’s memory, there could be other features we have yet to hear about that could result in bigger and better titles.

killzone shadow fall ps4 wallpaper 1080p

Sony isn’t entirely about the power this time around though. A huge part of their PS4 announcement was focused on the more developer friendly nature of the system, a better development environment that Guerilla have vocally supported in their run down of the Killzone demo. Despite “a few fights with the PS4 thread scheduler,” the developer said the “PS4 is really easy to program for.” They were also complimentary of the system’s fast GPU, describing how proud they were of the field of view effects they managed to conjure up, and how they managed to optimise these effects later on in development.

Sony’s developer-friendly focus clearly hasn’t got in the way of producing a powerful system. With much of the console’s full potential yet to be used, it bodes well for the quality of future PS4 titles. Of course, we’re still in early days yet. Even though Guerilla claimed they had few problems in developing the Killzone Shadow Fall demo, developers are likely to get more proficient with development for the system as time goes on, resulting in much better looking games after the system has been out for a while. The future looks bright.

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  • Clara

    No, why only 4GB of RAM was used is because Sony played catchup to MS and altered the RAM amount at the last minute before the conference from 4 to 8GB. NONE of the developers had a machine with 8GB and it definitely wasn’t because Sony kept it a secret for a reason. It was already confirmed by a Blizzard developer on NeoGAF. Sony’s PS4 isn’t in production as of yet, whereas the next Xbox already is. There will be a hands-on for the press this 21st of May.
    But there are many more areas Sony needs to play catchup in as MS now will have a platform universal store and much more refined developer tools than even on the PS4 as developers will be able to release games on 3 platforms with one programming language at the touch of a few buttons. Sony is always ten steps behind MS when it comes to software and features or to phrase it like a fanboy from another site:
    “PauperStation is lame and sucks. PS4 is going to fail hard and after the epic failure of the Vita, the end of $0NY.”

    • Axe99

      Nice theory, but the game in total used 4.7GB of RAM (it was only 3GB for the visuals, and there’s a lot more work required than for just the visuals), and that’s not including any OS overhead (which is rumoured at a GB). It may be possible GG were overshooting by 50% or so and hoping to optimise, but it’s more likely they knew all along.

      My money is that Sony let the 4GB rumour out, but was planning 8GB all along, but wanted to keep it under wraps (hence devkits in the wild with only 4GB of RAM in them), and that key first parties like GG knew well before the 20th of Feb. Ie, it was a sneaky corporate move to try and put Microsoft on the back foot. It shows how tight the competition has become, and competition is good :).

    • handy

      Not quite right. The Dev kit PS4 always contained 8GB of memory, which is common for any devkit to have more memory (usually double) than what goes into the final console spec. Which is why many assumed the PS4 would have only 4GB of Memory available

    • Jfdelman

      Haha you mean they kept it a secret so xbox wouldn’t find out, and what happens when xbox finds out? Suddenly they delay their announcement date to play catch up.

    • Carlos

      What delay? There were no venues planned for April by Microsoft anywhere. Major Nelson announced the new Xbox was coming and the May event on the planned April date. That was it.

    • Jfdelman

      You are also wrong about who’s in production, ps4 is xbox is running behind. I think you have your two consoles mixed up.

    • Carlos

      No, the next Xbox has been finished since January and in testing for quite a while. The press will have their first hands-on tomorrow and the PS4 is still not in production according to the various FABs around the world, sorry, it must suck to be a poor PS fan and hear that news.

    • Jfdelman

      I’m not a fanboy, i only own a 360, but ps is ahead of ms on production, just do a google search. Only reason xbox may be shown tomorrow is because ps4 wasn’t and some people got their panties is a wad. Xbox was behind on this whole thing, production, reveal, specs, that’s why they had to delay their announcement. They thought they were just going to sit back when Sony fed them the line that they would wait to see what ms would do first.

  • Luk@s

    I have to agree with Clara. Sony have announced their 8GB after all rumors about next XBox, however I am sure they have prepared in this option in PS4 development time as a option. I think this generation if it might not bring hyper graphic, will bring something more impotent to games,w which might be fully immerse world with great physics and more believable characters on the screen, and rather by surprising visual content we can believe in the world created by the others. I can only imagine a world which reacts to all of our actions, and shows it beauty in non per-scripted reactions. The only bad side is that we have to wait another 2 or 3 generation of PS4 and NextBox software to see it, as what is needed to fully use power of console resources is time.

  • aglagla

    Clara, your post is kinda salty but I get it. Clearly the announcement of Xbox has been delayed majorely because they had to completely revamp the whole communication. People are sensitive to numbers, meaning if you say 8 GB GDDR3 VS 4 GB GDDR5, people’s mind will have some doubts. Now 8 VS 8 is a much tighter match. If you add up the always online issue they had recently, the whole communication program around the console launch needs to be completly redone!
    You can tell by the switch of communication of MS from “Power is awesome” to “exclusives are the important part”.
    So as much as I agree that Sony is behind in terms of software and services and having difficult time to catch up, keep in mind MS is clearly behind in terms of Hardware design, production and assets communication, because they simply have less experience.

  • Dakan45

    Am not even gonna read the article.

    First things first, the 8gb of PRECIOUS GDDR5 that people hype is pool ram, NOT videocard ram, but ram used for all tasks.

    Also GDDR5 for videocards is used since 2008. DDR3 is faster for cpu calculations due to lower latency and GDDDR5 is better for video due to more bandwith.

    More speed wont magically make the system a super monster, its not like DDR3 is used on pc at the higest speeds. Nothing utilizes 2000MHZ

    Killzone shadowfall uses 1.5gb for cpu, 3gb for video and some shared to a total of 4.8gb, considering the wiiu OS was 1gb and ps4 will have more features such as browsing and sharnig, the os will be atleast 1gb. So 5.8gb are already gone.

    Shadowfall uses the typical streaming that erases areas behind you. If the maps were bigger more ram would be used.

    So much for this “next gen”

  • intelligent

    screen tear wa wa waaaa

    • thecman25

      virgin wa wa waaaa

    • intelligent

      ha… look at this pussy talkin abt virgins…. HAAAA theres a thing in psychology called projecting” and what ur c#nt ass is projecting tomthe public is that u have been a virgin ur whole life and FINALLY u get to dry hump a leg so u think ur mr big pimpin over there hahahaha.. u have the mind of a gay confused CHILD… u have no business in these debates.. its takes somewhat of an i.q… u c#nt… and ur mom shlpbbs my knobb every mornin… guess id be a virgin if u dont count oral mr gayman25 hahahaha

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