Words by Simon Oxlade
So it is now official: The next Playstation will be a traditional console, an evolution of the PS4 architecture, but with more graphics power, the processor has hyperthreading, there’s lots of attention on 3D audio and an SSD.
I know, this is the Ocelot and you are either reading it in a pub or while waiting for a kebab, and I’ve just hit you with a load of gibberish, so let me explain what all this means.
Firstly hyperthreading: Central processors now consist of multiple cores, and each core is effectively an independent processor. The PS4 has 8 cores, but can only run one process on one core at any one time. Hyperthreading allows you to run more than one process on one core, which means there’s more processing power available, which means more grunt available to the games companies. So if you think GTA V is huge and complex, the next gen will have much more.
Next the graphics supports a technique called raytracing where the path of each light particle is calculated from the light source, to the 3d object, then to the viewer. This is a processor intensive technique that has traditionally been out of the reach of consoles, but leads to much more realistic lighting effects. Sony have also worked out a way to use the raytracing technique for audio, so by using raytracing you can work out the position of an object in 3d space in relation to the player’s view and use that data to manipulate the audio files associated with that object. In short: shoot a crate and the sound of bullet hitting wood will come from where the object is, but instead of just left or right, but closer (louder) and further away (quieter). Trust me on this, true 3D audio is going to blow your mind, especially in VR.
Finally an SDD, or Solid State Disc. Instead of a traditional HDD, where the data is stored on spinning discs which results in delays as the read heads have to seek across the platters to find the data before they can read it. An SSD is chip-based so removing the seek stage, resulting with a massive increase in speed. Sony demonstrated a speed increase of some 18 times over the PS4 Pro using the recent Spiderman game.
Add in backward compatibility (so your PS4 games will work) and the even more recent announcement of a tie-up between Sony and Microsoft regarding cloud services (which may open up cross-platform gaming) and the future of PlayStation is looking bright.
Microsoft announced the Xbox One S All Digital which is a One S without the 3D Blu-Ray drive (so download only), but at the same price. So you are paying money to remove hardware. If this isn’t a good enough reason not to buy the thing, the acronym is Xbox One SAD….