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Digital Foundry

PS4 devs can only use 4.5GB of system's 8GB RAM - Report

PS4 devs can only use 4.5GB of system's 8GB RAM - Report

Fri 26 Jul 2013 7:27pm GMT / 3:27pm EDT / 12:27pm PDT
HardwareDigital Foundry

Digital Foundry says 3.5GB reserved for operating system, 1GB of which could be given back to devs

For industry watchers who follow spec sheets, one of the Xbox One's disadvantages against the PlayStation 4 was that Microsoft was reserving a chunk of its console's RAM for always-on applications, leaving game developers only able to access about 5GB of the system's 8 GB total. But according to a report from Eurogamer's Digital Foundry, Sony is imposing similarly strict limitations on the PS4, guaranteeing developers only 4.5GB of the system's own 8GB of RAM.

According to the report, Sony's current PS4 developer documentation describes the system as reserving 3.5GB of memory for the operating system. However, depending on availability, developers may be able to reclaim an extra 1GB of that to use for games. Digital Foundry noted that earlier Sony documentation indicated that only 512MB would be kept from developers, although those specs were based on a machine with only 4GB of RAM in total.

While it imposes a lower ceiling on developers, the reserved RAM of both systems would reportedly allow for greater flexibility of programs that run in the background, as well as quicker switching between tasks. In Sony's case, the company was said to be flexible about the amount reserved for the OS, so there is a potential for the 3.5GB reservation to be reduced over time.

23 Comments

Jeff Kleist
Writer, Marketing, Licensing

290 154 0.5
Very god decision, as it'll allow flexibility and stability to compete with XBox in the media space. 7GB was pretty muc overkill given that most PC games run in 4 with windows on top of it

Posted:A year ago

#1

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,017 1,463 1.4
@ Jeff Not quite, most PC games run 4GB for system ram, but that's the PS4's total ram (system and video). So you have 4.5GBs to meet what a gaming PC would generally have at least 5GBs to do (4GB of system ram and 1GB of video ram). Mind you, a high end PC would have 16GB of system ram and 2GB of video ram, though with the PS4 this is all DDR5. The PS4 would still have more to work with than the Xbox One for this reason.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Tim Ogul
Illustrator

335 462 1.4
I hope that if any of that ram is used by things like the video sharing services or whatever, that you'd be able to put the system into an "overdrive" mode that would free that all back up if you have no interest in those features.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Jeff Kleist
Writer, Marketing, Licensing

290 154 0.5
You're right on the video RAM, But I do know that my system ram rarely goes above 4.5 GB, even with multiple programs running in addition to a high-end game, And I typically floats around 3 GB when not playing a game. Most of that would be shuffled off into the 3 GB system zone, so that's a lot of space to work with. Either console is easily working with twice the space that most PC games are running in, And that's before you remove windows from the equation

Posted:A year ago

#4

Saehoon Lee
Founder & CEO

60 41 0.7
Choice should be given to the developer if one wants to use most of 8g or not. If using more than recommended 4.5g then the game should handle the exceptions if user chooses to do quick switchings etc.. indicate clearly in the beginning of the game or whenever necessary that it will take longer because the game is so and so.. etc

Posted:A year ago

#5

Jeff Kleist
Writer, Marketing, Licensing

290 154 0.5
I don't think you quite understand that these are not game consoles any more, they're media boxes. Five years from now, you Xbox will be your Cable hub, running your phone, your alarm, everything else. If thy wanted it to b a game console, you'd still be stuck at 4GB. It's not about the games, its about all the other stuff that's going to be running alongside it

The One is actually running as two entirely seperate computers, specifically to prevent interference,and it looks like Sony is following the same course.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Sam Brown
Programmer

235 164 0.7
I miss the days when you included the OS in the actual game.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,148 928 0.8
A large amount of RAM will be taken due to the extra functionality but it seems a massive waste, especially being GDDR5 which is expensive and doesn't necessarily offer superior gains in this area. Though I can see how sharing the memory pool is still beneficial...

This generation I predicted OS sophistication close to Android, iOS or Windows Phone platforms (more the latter sandboxed ones) that are running advanced multimedia capabilities at speed with 1GB of mobile DDR2 (or 2GB for the newer phones and tablets).

If the report is true, hopefully it will be justified, otherwise the dream of no glaring RAM limitations may fade, particularly having to share with the GPU. I do think its ok to the extent that this won't stop the consoles from expressing incredible game performance and showing off what the next generation is made of but it raises a few questions :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 27th July 2013 7:58pm

Posted:A year ago

#8

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

430 405 0.9
@Sam: so true.

Posted:A year ago

#9

Paul Shirley
Programmers

175 147 0.8
@Nicholas Pantazis

Most PC games still target Win32 with its 2Gb per process limit. Even counting video RAM both consoles are well ahead of the PC baseline. 4.5Gb doesn't seem much of a problem.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Shirley on 27th July 2013 2:11pm

Posted:A year ago

#10

Keldon Alleyne
Handheld Developer

430 405 0.9
@Paul: Yeah but I'm sure we programmers will use all of our creative power to find a way!

Posted:A year ago

#11

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,017 1,463 1.4
@ Paul You're right most games aren't built for 64 bit windows which is why I was clear that was with high end gaming PCs not the "average PC." It's wroth noting at this point though that most PCs are bought with 64GB Windows including ultrabooks, and any new gaming build is done with 64GB Windows. As for the actual video ram, no, the PS4 and Xbox One won't perform on par with 2GB graphics cards. We're already seeing that they can't hit that with Watch Dogs.

Posted:A year ago

#12

Tucson K Bagley
Studying Advanced Diploma of Game Dev (Game Art & Animation)

7 17 2.4
As for the actual video ram, no, the PS4 and Xbox One won't perform on par with 2GB graphics cards. We're already seeing that they can't hit that with Watch Dogs.
While I don't doubt that your first statement here is true, what exactly do you mean by using Watch Dogs as proof of that? Did I miss a statement from the devs or something here?
I mean, the PS4 vs PC demo of Unreal Engine 4 shows some solid differences between what a High-End PC can do and what a PS4 can do, but Watch Dogs...?

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Tucson K Bagley on 28th July 2013 2:46am

Posted:A year ago

#13

Jeff Kleist
Writer, Marketing, Licensing

290 154 0.5
Since GPU memory is mostly for holding textures, and the target res of the new consoles is 1080p, which 1GB handles just fine, I figure they'll be ok

Posted:A year ago

#14

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,508 1,283 0.9
That's, I'm guessing 1080p, at 30fps. Which is well behind what PCs can do with... more.

Posted:A year ago

#15

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,017 1,463 1.4
@ Tucson Digital Foundry did a breakdown a few days ago.

@ Moville Not necessarily. A well optimized PC game like say Skyrim can run 1080p @ 60fps on a 1GB GPU. Heck that game can run near console and level on an ultrabook. It all depends on the developer. Also with new consoles basically being PCs optimization should be even easier than before. People should get more multiplat performance out of their GPUs this generation than any before it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 28th July 2013 11:48pm

Posted:A year ago

#16

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,508 1,283 0.9
That's true, actually... I'm just so used to developers/publishers not putting time into optimizing that it's second nature to assume that consoles are going to be the poor-relation. :)

Posted:A year ago

#17

Paul Jace
Merchandiser

887 1,312 1.5
So if this is true than I guess it means that the XB1 and PS4 will be very comparable in power and that neither will be able to overwhelmingly outperform the other. Correct?

Posted:A year ago

#18

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,148 928 0.8
So if this is true than I guess it means that the XB1 and PS4 will be very comparable in power and that neither will be able to overwhelmingly outperform the other. Correct?
I don't think any of this really bypasses stronger performance, particularly if you're looking at very similar architectures running at different speeds. The slower one will still probably come off worse unless steps were made to purposely make game versions the same.

Posted:A year ago

#19
So no one has commented that the initial report by Digital Foundry is incorrect? Tut, tut. Nice to have a discussion based on completely incorrect information. To quote information from the front page of the magic box:

"Vblank Entertainment's PS4 developer head Brian Provinciano has told the media that the report froM Digital Foundry about PS4 only has 3.5GB of memory available for games, is "absolutely false". While not going into details, he mentioned that games can access a combination of both "Direct Memory" and "Flexible Memory", which makes up the 8GB RAM in the system. There are games in development that uses 6GB of RAM."

Posted:A year ago

#20

Shehzaan Abdulla
Translator

81 174 2.1
Nice find. I've tracked down a source: http://gematsu.com/2013/07/rumor-update-ps4-5gb-ram-games

Posted:A year ago

#21

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,148 928 0.8
Thanks for the updates, it did seem very excessive for a console OS.

Posted:A year ago

#22
Future PC Games will far outstrip consoles, Star Citizen is set for a 64 bit 8GB RAM minimum, though the OS will take its share on pc's as well, and graphics ram will be extra on top of that, as more devs focus on games that aren't console hand me downs, consoles may struggle to run the next gen of games with only 8GB total, it will especially struggle when 4K video becomes the preferred resolution.

Nevertheless with 16GB becoming standard, simply due to the low price, future games designed for the PC will have to be dumbed down considerably for inclusion in future consoles, Console games have alas been holding back PC's for years by keeping most of them to puny console ports, be nice when some dev's show to the full potential or at least some of it given the lack of years of optimisations of people's PC's for once, the new shared architecture will have positive effect on PC games, its clear by now PC's aren't going anywhere, and the fact that the entire industry has been focused on Consoles and now Tablets (like many people actually play games on tablets and mobiles.... they might buy a couple, but the only time I've ever found the need to play them was either a on an plane with nothing better to do, or b outside a dentists office with nothing better to do, controls are terrible, gameplay restrictive as a result, not tbh very fun, kids and casuals might continue to buy mobile games, but not all gamers like mobile gaming, and the lousy experience you get doing it, anyone who likes even a shred of immersion will avoid them )but never on PC games seems daft to say the least, their justification for this is one excuse about how PC is dying and not mainstream after the other, yet the most successful games of all time have appeared on PC, and game controllers whilst fine for many times of game play are still not nearly as precise as mouse and keyboard control. which restricts many games. and PC audience > consoles, make games beautiful enough and they'll happily upgrade their pc's to run this new class of games.

That's not to say consoles don't have their uses or games that suit them fine, its just there is and should be space for both in the industry, and publishers have put their thumbs in their ears and hummed away to the tune that only console games matter for so long that when the thumbs finally come out, it may be to late to adjust to a more balanced approach, and the increased profits that will come with it, before new companies or methodologies beat them to it, alas some have now added tablets to the humming tune, reality is no single platform holds the key to success, its dipping into them all in their strengths that should matter, its the fault of publishers and dev's that when as the valve hardware survey shows, the majority of gamers have 64 bit os and dx11, yet the majority of PC games cater only to 32 bit ones with dx11 if present as an afterthought as best, that shows publishers and developers are wildly out of touch with the market, maximum profits rarely come from being so out of touch with your audience. PC gamers have been seeking games that fully utilize their pcs for years but have yet to see any, even crysis 3 itself was ram limited.

Still from the comments the accuracy of this seemt to be in question, 3.5GB for a console os does seem a little extreme given the step up from what they previously had to deal with, I doubt they'd go to all the trouble of going to 8GB ram then hobble their new platform quite so badly as to make only 4.5GB available for most games of the bat, sure console developers will run into a RAM wall within a few years, but not quite that early me thinks.

Posted:A year ago

#23

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