PS4 Pro’s Color Compression Technology Is Definitely A Net Gain, Says Former Lionhead Developer
Greater than the sum of its parts.
The PS4 Pro has a variety of new hardware and software tricks, all of which work to make the console punch above its weight, and deliver games that look substantially better than they do on the standard PS4 system. One of these tricks is delta color compression, which helps to maximize memory bandwidth during games development.
In a recent interview we had with Don Williamson, former developer at Fable development studio Lionhead, and currently the Owner and Consultant Engine Programmer at Celtoys, we decided to ask him about the delta color compression technology, and how it might impact the performance of games running on PS4 Pro.
“This is a very old compression technology made possible for runtime bandwidth compression through sheer horsepower available today,” he said. “It’s difficult to give exact numbers on how much better it is as it’s based on matching tiles to dictionaries of patterns that may not show up often in your game. Some games will get lucky and get a nice boost, others not so much. The increased throughput of GPU cores means this extra bandwidth can also eaten up pretty quickly. It’s definitely a net gain but one that feels an inevitable side-effect of the increasing power of GPUs.”
We also asked him about the other features that are making their way to the PS4 Pro from the AMD Roadmap, such as the ability to run two FP16 operations concurrently, and the integration of a work scheduler for increased efficiency. According to Williamson, these are fairly low level improvements that shouldn’t have much of an impact on the performance of games.
“These are just a bunch of low-level technical details that will allow us to squeeze more out of the hardware. Not too much; but enough to gain maybe half a millisecond here and there,” he said.
On the whole, then, it sounds like the cumulative impact of smaller improvements like these is what makes the PS4 Pro tick, and makes it a far more impressive console than you would expect it to be.