Former Frostbite Dev on PS5 Specs: “Disconnect Between Numbers And What It’s Capable of”

Yan Chernikov says that specifications mean nothing "until you can actually see that in practice."

Posted By | On 04th, Jun. 2020

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Sony has yet to fully showcase the PlayStation 5, whether it’s the console’s design or price. However, it’s spoken quite a bit about its capabilities, especially with its solid-state drive. That being said, even with Sony hyping up the overall performance, the CPU and GPU numbers on paper don’t always tell the full story.

Yan Chernikov, a game engine developer who previously worked as a software engineer on DICE’s Frostbite engine, gave his thoughts on the console’s performance numbers in a recent YouTube video. He noted, “I don’t generally like looking at numbers like this, because in my experience, looking at clock speeds and frequencies and teraflops and all of that stuff, it’s fine and it might look good on paper. But when you actually start programming for that hardware and you start stress testing it and you have an actual full game that you’ve built up, which is a difficult thing to do, it’s not something you can get to within a few months of just having this new PS5 hardware.

“When you finally get to that stage, you may notice problems- and again numbers are fine, it’s cool it meets certain specifications. But to be honest, that means nothing until you can actually see that in practice. So, I don’t know… you know, this is just my opinion and my thoughts. But when I look at these numbers, it’s very difficult for me to be like ‘Oh! though it is a lot better!'”

That being said, according to Chernikov, when it comes to the solid-state drive, the numbers do offer something more concrete. “When I look at the SSD space and it says 5 gigabytes a second or whatever, that’s an amount that I’m sure that the console could sustain, and I can actually picture myself streaming 5 gigabytes per second- that’s like something tangible.

“But a clock speed and teraflop count, for me personally at least, it’s a little bit harder to look at that and be like ‘Oh, I can draw this many triangles, oh, I can make a game that suddenly supports this.’ Because until I start programming for that hardware and I see what other people have done and how sustainable it is and all of that stuff, it’s very difficult to see kind of a specific upgrade in a particular department. Even though obviously the numbers are there, but there’s a bit more of a disconnect, I feel, between those numbers and what’s actually capable of being achieved on that platform.”

Chernikov’s views represent something that’s been the case even when the PS4 and Xbox One launched. Despite those consoles being hyped up as similar to a PC’s architecture, it still took time for developers to fully understand and utilize the power available. Given how unpredictable game development can be, optimization is often the key difference maker.

As more games release for the PS5 in the coming years, we’ll know the full extent of the hardware’s capabilities. In the meantime, the console is currently slated to release this holiday season. Stay tuned for more details on Sony’s showcase for the same soon.


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