Sony halving NGP RAM - rumour

Online reports claim cost-cutting measures to bring price in line with 3DS

Unconfirmed reports suggest that Sony may be planning to halve the originally intended amount of RAM in the NGP handheld, as a means to reduce the device's price.

French website 01net claims that the version of the NGP without 3G capabilities will only feature 256MB instead of 512MB RAM. The amount of VRAM graphics memory is reported to stand at 128MB.

It is also suggested that the cheaper non-3G model will not include internal flash memory, but instead rely on a traditional memory stick. The site suggests that this is unlikely to be too problematic, while claiming that the size of the console's operating system has also been cut.

01net reports that the cuts are to ensure closer price competition with the Nintendo 3DS, which currently sells at $249.99 in the US and a maximum of £229.99 in the UK.

The French site has a good track record of reporting, particularly regarding Sony products, but no further official announcements are expected for the NGP until the E3 expo next month.

Sony released a basic set of technical specifications when the NGP was first released earlier in the year, but did not specify the amount of onboard memory.

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Latest comments (16)

Senar Koraltan Senior Producer 10 years ago
"NGP without 3G capabilities will only feature 256MB instead of 512MB RAM"

If there is going to be 2 versions of NGP surely both versions have to be of the same specification so that the games run on both systems.
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Adam Campbell Studying Games Technology, City University London10 years ago
Sony have been in danger of way over-powering this device. It already trounces portables across the market for performance, has an ambitious 4 cores and doesn't really need to push for more RAM than the bigger,more powerful PS3 - it's not cheap stuff!
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.10 years ago
Senar, so long as the video RAM remains the same, it won't impact the games themselves.

However, if they are trying to reduce the price of the console, just dumping some RAM isn't going to help much. Especially given that RAM is insanely cheap these days. The console's expense is coming from the high end screen, the track pad, the CPU and GPU. Either cut here to stay price competitive or eat your profits. Cutting RAM alone will not be enough at all.
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Show all comments (16)
Sam Brown Lead Audio Programmer, TT Games10 years ago
I was just thinking cutting RAM isn't going to save very much money. I'm using a stick of DDR2 to stop my desk from wobbling at the moment.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.10 years ago
Pardon the broad based example here but let's look at some math.

1 stick of 4 GB DDR3 RAM costs just $34 at retail and has 16 modules on it. That makes it 256 MB per module with a cost of $2.13 each. Take away the silicon and go with vendor pricing and you're looking at maybe $1.50 for that 256 MB module.

Not exactly enough cost cutting to put it into a competitive price range.
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Tom Leighton Environment Artist, Eutechnyx Ltd.10 years ago
Can't say I'm surprised they're cutting costs after the losses they have suffered recently.
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Andreas Yiannikaris Game Designer, Roll710 years ago

Let's assume they are getting 256MB ram for $1.50.

PSP has sold 67.8 million units worldwide as of February 25, 2011.

If we assume Sony have hopes that the NGP will sell as well as (if not better than) the PSP:

67,800,000 x $1.5. = $101,700,000

Now, $101 million over six years might seem like a minor saving to a huge company like Sony but let's not forget that Sony posted a loss of $439 million for 2010, and a staggering Ł1 billion the year before.

They're haemorrhaging money.

How does the old saying go: "Look after the pennies..."

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andreas Yiannikaris on 27th May 2011 3:49pm

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Benedict Ng-Wai Studying Game Developer, Train2Game10 years ago
Rams not that expensive, if they are looking at cutting costs, touch senstive from the front, since people are actually getting to joystick and sixaxis, how many people really use that on the ps3

Its going to sell, its just the economic climate is a little bad at the moment, but many people are sold on the NGP and it has even made it out in the shops with a price tag
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Joe Beasley XNA Developer 10 years ago
This article didn't mention the other rumor, that of the non-3g NGP having no flash memory and relying on MS memory cards, which seems a FAR more likely rumor.

Creating a version with half the RAM just doesn't make sense, the PCB will already be configured for the extra RAM chip, and there's no way in hell they would develop two seperate PCB's for two SKU's, so the amount of money saved by halving the RAM is trivial (unless of course they halve that RAM across both SKUs).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Joe Beasley on 27th May 2011 4:58pm

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Just as a note, Sony's Networked Products Division posted a hefty profit this year, as mentioned on here earlier this week.

Also, I would also consider a halved-RAM version highly unlikely. Handheld consoles tend not to feature VM, so there is a definite problem in that games made for the smaller will not use all the RAM in the higher, and games made for the higher will not work on the lower at all.
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Julio Gorgé Managing Director, Lemon Team10 years ago
The SoC ARM designs used by smartphones —and presumably the NGP— put the CPU, GPU and RAM in the same package. That RAM is much more expensive than your typical RAM sticks, so halving the amount is a big deal. Cost is one of the reasons the iPhone 4 sports 512 MB of RAM, while the newer but cheaper iPod Touch 4G still only carries 256 MB.
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Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer 10 years ago
256MB with a 6 year lifespan in mind is very VERY small.. Just look at the PS3 (and xbox360), the biggest problem is the lack of memory, if they had invested in 256MB (or 512MB) more, they would have had much bigger breathing room for newer/better games..
The biggest stupid thing is even releasing 2 different models which have very different specs, no gamedeveloper is going to use the full 512MB of the 3G model because it would mean it wouldn't run on the non-3G version... Cutting costs by reducing memory is only something a moronic manager with no clue to development would choose to do, memory is cheap compared to other stuff of the NGP (and memory won't be the highest cost during NPG's lifetime).. Developers are asking for more and more memory, and then they are gonna cut costs on that? They really have some tough competition from other devices, yeah other devices won't have joysticks, but a lot of people won't care..
Personally I was going for the non-3G version because I don't care about being able to use it online in the streets, Wifi is good enough for me (hell even Wifi is available a lot of the time), but now if this rumor is real and the non-3G version is a ripped version, I might not even buy a NGP..
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.10 years ago
Andreas, if lifetime costs were the goal, then yes it would be a valid move. However, the stated goal is to bring the retail costs down into a more competitive level. Given that, it's not enough to just cut the RAM.
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I still think battery life is more of a concern to them than immediate cost - if the device is powerful enough, and they price it at breakeven/profit - people will still buy it, and the price will come down over the next 6-8 years.

But if the battery runs out after 1hr, nothing will save you - halving the RAM will definitely help.

As for comparable devices, the Galaxy S II already has 1GB of RAM, and a dual-core CPU running at 1.2Ghz. The NGP may be cutting edge when its released, but spec-wise it won't be on top for long.
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Adam Campbell Studying Games Technology, City University London10 years ago
Adding to what Andreas said, actually mobile RAM should not be looked at in the same way as PC RAM. Even Laptop RAM is more expensive, mobile chips aren't cheap, and it all makes quite a difference in the final cost to the customer. This 'executive' decision has happened so much in consoles in the last 20 years we can't be naive today when it comes to NGP..

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 29th May 2011 7:15pm

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Neil Young Programmer, Rebellion Developments10 years ago
@Julio - mobile SoC packages don't always contain the memory (as an example, the iPad's A8 doesn't), so it depends on how sony are configuring the NGP
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