There are many reasons why the PS4’s unified architecture has been beneficial for developers the world over but it’s been equally rewarding to middleware manufacturers like Persistant Studios, which created particle effects middleware Popcorn FX. How does PopcornFX’s Runtime element take advantage of the PS4’s unified architecture though?
According to Persistant Studios CEO Camille Mirey, “Since we update from the CPU, we suffer from the transfer to the GPU. Therefore, PS4 unified memory architecture speeds things up by removing that expensive transfer altogether.”
Mirey also talked about PopcornFX deals with particle effect simulation due to the presence of millions of particles each having its own physics and attributes.
“Actually, the current generation of games usually deals with thirty to a hundred of thousand particles simultaneously on-screen, no more. Previous generations used to deal with a few thousands to ten thousands of particles, and even games with a high use of particles don’t reach the million which is good mostly for tech demos.
“We put the emphasis on the diversity and the richness of individual particle behavior, not on their number, although Popcorn has no trouble with high particle counts. And thanks to scripting and heavy batching, each particle is designed to be highly performant and only stores the properties needed, which allows to keep a low memory footprint. For example, a particle whose position is driven by a custom procedural expression doesn’t need physics-specific properties like velocity and mass (ie).
By current generation though, he means the PS4 and Xbox One. Yes, that’s for titles already available (for example, inFamous), we expect that number to increase in the future, as the game engines become more mature on these platforms.”
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