A couple of days back, Mark Cerny, the lead architect on the PlayStation 4, attended Gamelab 2013, a developer conference which took place in Barcelona. At the conference he spoke in great length about the PS4 and its set of features.
He also spoke about how the PS4’s GPU is not only limited to handling the graphics but also complex processes which is traditionally handled by the CPU.
“We have worked hard to ensure that the console has a rich feature set, which will allow it to grow over the years and support the overall evolution of gaming. And our work there on that rich feature was to focus on making sure that for those teams that were interested in investing time, the GPU could be used for far more conventional graphics. Principally, we enhanced the GPU to make the use of asynchronous fine grained compute practical on the platform. So the asynchronous refers to the GPU doing many tasks which is not directly related to graphics.”
He believes that the developers will be able to develop richer worlds if they are able to unlock the true potential of this feature set.
“Physics simulation, collision detection, ray casting for audio, decompression and the like. And these operations are fine grained meaning that there will be many small world simulation tasks running on the GPU simultaneously alongside rendering of the game scenes. So the concept is that as game developers learn to use these techniques later on in the console life cycle, we will see richer and even more interactive worlds.”
The presentation also had a slide which gave more details about the PS4 GPU and it’s capabilities:
As you can see from the image above, the PS4’s GPU can also handle some of the CPU based tasks like collision detection and simulation.
- Raycasting of Audio
- Physics Simulation
- Collision Detection
- World Simulation
On Friday we had reported on why the Cell processor was not included in the PS4. You can read that report over here. Additionally, you should check out Mark Cerny’s brilliant 49 minute long presentation over here. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
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