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Recent PS4 SDK update unlocked 7th CPU core for gaming

EGM1966

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Aug 5, 2011
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What about parity? Will 3rd party devs take full advantage of this or will they try to balance things out with XboxOne to keep Microsoft happy (and relevant)?
Serious question.
I'd say over 2 years majority of devs have clearly made no attempt at parity in that sense so I wouldn't worry. Most devs will use whatever's available to them and a minority will aim closer to parity.

Nothing's going to change
 

c0de

Banned
Aug 22, 2012
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Eh? What are you talking about? Did they cancel GDC or something? =/
I doubt there will be anything substantial to hear about the unlock of a seventh core on consoles from GDC.
Perhaps I am wrong - did we hear anything about it regarding Xbone?
 

Negotiator

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Jun 28, 2011
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I see no reason why that would happen anyway, the system's running FreeBSD underneath and Unix based OSs have been multitasking on single cores since the 1970s.
The PS Vita OS is also FreeBSD-based and the latest SDK (v3.50) frees up an extra 77MB of RAM, hence multitasking is disabled for games that use the "expanded memory" mode.
 

mocoworm

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live.xbox.com
http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2015-sony-unlocks-more-cpu-power-for-ps4-game-developers

Over the weekend we consulted our contacts and can confirm that Core 6 has indeed been unlocked and is available for game developers to utilise. However, there are a couple of caveats here. First of all, it's highly likely that existing games will have no access to the additional CPU power by default - unless the developer in question decides to update the title via a patch to specifically add support.

Secondly, questions remain as to how much CPU time from the unlocked core developers actually have access to. When Microsoft unlocked the seventh core on Xbox One, the amount of resources available from the core at any given point would vary, based on OS requirements. For example, using voice commands could see up to 50 per cent of the core's resources tied up.

Right now it's not entirely clear whether similar conditions are in place at all on PlayStation 4, but one source informs us that PlayStation 4's debugging and analysis tool - called Razor - "splits the activity on that core between user and system", which does seem to suggest that the seventh processing core is shared to a certain extent between the OS and game.

Overall then - this is obviously good news. In a system where CPU processing power is at a premium, the more there is available to game developers, the better. We've invited comment from Sony and will update with any response, and if more information on the potential divide in resources emerges, we'll be sure to let you know.
 

Harmen

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serversurfer

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I doubt there will be anything substantial to hear about the unlock of a seventh core on consoles from GDC.
Perhaps I am wrong - did we hear anything about it regarding Xbone?
Well, they may not mention the unlocking per se, but we should be able to see what they're doing with it in the profiler slides. That's how we know they were using six cores initially.


Seems odd the devs wouldn't know how many clocks the OS can grab, if any. =/
 

Slixshot

Banned
Jun 21, 2013
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Just a few simple questions:

What does this do and why does it matter?

Why do they wait to unlock the cores?

When do we expect this to make a difference for games and can it help those that have already been released?
 

Pandy

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Sep 4, 2014
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Good work Sony. Now let's get a 10% overclock :)
No thanks. After the 360 RROD fiasco last gen I'm determined to only buy one PS4 this gen, so if it cooks itself I won't be getting a replacement. The damn thing is hot enough as it is.
 

c0de

Banned
Aug 22, 2012
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Well, they may not mention the unlocking per se, but we should be able to see what they're doing with it in the profiler slides. That's how we know they were using six cores initially.
Again, did we see anything from this year's GDC?


Seems odd the devs wouldn't know how many clocks the OS can grab, if any. =/
Well, devs cannot rely on anything in this case. You can also rely on the "minimum" of performance and optimize for that. If it is better, fine. If not, it should still not exceed the minimum.
That said, the question remains whether devs build the engines to massive parallelization so that they can scale across an almost arbitrary amount of cores and just let the schedulers do their work but I doubt this is done and they still use affinity for certain threads/jobs/fancyname.
 

hesido

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May 23, 2013
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www.hesido.com
Just a few simple questions:

What does this do and why does it matter?

Why do they wait to unlock the cores?

When do we expect this to make a difference for games and can it help those that have already been released?
  • This gives developers more CPU resources to work with. More CPU means more stuff to calculate.
  • You (Sony :) ) always have to be conservative about your needs. You cannot take back something you give, once it has been given, because it breaks anything that is released prior to it. Once your OS plans are finalized, you may have a ballpark of the amount of CPU you need while a game is running. During the process, you will also probably optimize already existing OS features to require less CPU resources.
  • I expect it to be used by UC4 and from there on. Games already out need to be patched to make use of it, don't think anyone will bother.
 

MaxiLive

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Jun 3, 2013
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Just a few simple questions:

What does this do and why does it matter?
It gives the developer a little bit more resources to optimising/add features. With it being CPU that is the biggest bottleneck for developers at the moment as any extra resources is a bonus!

Why do they wait to unlock the cores?
Most of it comes down to optimisation. Sony have had time to optimise the OS to use less resources as well as spend the time on the SDK side of things to lower the overhead of any background processes. Just takes time to get these optimisations in place!

When do we expect this to make a difference for games and can it help those that have already been released?
For the end user you probably won't notice any differences really. Any game coming out spring next year will probably of been developed for the newer SDKs so it just depends on what/if they use for. Most games will just be performance for the time being so you might see a slightly more stable framerate or slightly better draw distance on shadows etc, minor things like that. Mostly it will go towards slightly better performance or minor boosts to graphic effects.
At least that is my understanding!
 

Slixshot

Banned
Jun 21, 2013
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  • This gives developers more CPU resources to work with. More CPU means more stuff to calculate.
  • You (Sony :) ) always have to be conservative about your needs. You cannot take back something you give, once it has been given, because it breaks anything that is released prior to it. Once your OS plans are finalized, you may have a ballpark of the amount of CPU you need while a game is running. During the process, you will also probably optimize already existing OS features to require less CPU resources.
  • I expect it to be used by UC4 and from there on. Games already out need to be patched to make use of it, don't think anyone will bother.
At least that is my understanding!
Awesome, thank you both for the easy explanations.
 

SaucyJack

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Aug 8, 2013
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So we see the repitition of what ms did? Still good for devs to get the most of the CPUs. I wonder how Sony does schedule jobs around the CPUs, especially in comparison to MS' approach.
I wouldn't see it as copying MS, it's just the natural maturation of the system over time and you would expect both platforms to do it. That MS made a song and dance over their's is the exception rather than the rule. As you can't reclaim resources once made available platform holders need to be cautious initially and only release when they're sure that the system doesn't need it. You would equally expect to see OS footprint reduced over time and more RAM made available for games over time.
 

Chû Totoro

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Mar 13, 2006
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If unlocking the 7th core cost us stability, they've made a huge mistake.
That's why they made all the previous updates


I kind of agree with you sadly. And I'd be glad to be proven wrong but I'm not sure it changed that much for Xbox One performance issues
 

mephixto

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Aug 28, 2009
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I don't expect the games to look better or perfom better, it's more CPU after all. Probably better physics, AI, shadows, etc.
 

RootCause

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Feb 6, 2015
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Full core for games sounds positive. They need to let everyone else have at it.

I don't expect the games to look better or perfom better, it's more CPU after all. Probably better physics, AI, shadows, etc.
Isn't performance tied to the cpu?
 

serversurfer

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Aug 31, 2013
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Again, did we see anything from this year's GDC?
Well, not that I noticed, but I got the impression the unlock was fairly recent, so we won't see it until next GDC at the earliest.

Well, devs cannot rely on anything in this case. You can also rely on the "minimum" of performance and optimize for that. If it is better, fine. If not, it should still not exceed the minimum.
Err, yes, that was my point, actually. If the system can nab as many as X% of the cycles without warning, the devs need to never require more than Y% of the cycles. However, the dev can't solve for Y unless Sony give them X, so it seemed odd to me that they hadn't, assuming it's non-zero.

That said, the question remains whether devs build the engines to massive parallelization so that they can scale across an almost arbitrary amount of cores and just let the schedulers do their work but I doubt this is done and they still use affinity for certain threads/jobs/fancyname.
It just depends on the engine, basically. Core scaling wouldn't be super useful on a console with fixed resources, but it would be useful if you were porting to or from PC, where you have no idea what will be available at runtime. Or scalability may be a natural side effect of your design.

Incidentally, do you not know the difference between threads and jobs?
 

mephixto

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Full core for games sounds positive. They need to let everyone else have at it.


Isn't performance tied to the cpu?
Depends on the game and genere. FPS and action games are problably more GPU oriented and not getting to much of it. I can see open world games perform better, looking forward to Horizons for example, that's the kind of game that can get big gains of more CPU power.
 

Inuhanyou

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I don't expect the games to look better or perfom better, it's more CPU after all. Probably better physics, AI, shadows, etc.
"I don't expect games to look or perform better, so i'll just list all the things that this may do to make games look or perform better"


???
 

RootCause

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It's tied to everything. It just depends where your bottleneck is.
Depends on the game and genere. FPS and action games are problably more GPU oriented. I can see open world games perform better, looking forward to Horizons for example, that's the kind of game that can get big gains of more CPU power.
Thanks for the input. I know this might be impossible to answer. But how much of a boost in performance(fps)are we talking about?
 

mephixto

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Thanks for the input. I know this might be impossible to answer. But how much of a boost in performance(fps)are we talking about?
Not so much on boost but more on stability, less fps drops, shadow distance, more objects on screen, etc. Horizons it's a game that had lots on screen and in order to mantain the game run smootly the dev probably has to drop some features, with an additional core unlocked it probably they won't need to sacrifice much to keep the fps smooth.
 

Blanquito

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Just guessing here, but it seems reasonable at least in my mind:

Exclusive to 1st party sounds like it really means 1st party are your beta testers. Unlock it for them, let them release a game or two, and see how things like

OS performance
Background music
Party chat
Secondary apps/web browser

Etc. all perform in the real world before opening the flood gates to all developers. In the name of stability of course :)

Another advantage of doing it this way is that your first party devs can work with middleware devs to start utilizing the extra core (and working out the bugs), and hopefully by the time it's available to all devs, the major middleware software already has support for it and it's an easy upgrade for third party devs.

Just think: boom, one day you suddenly have access to an extra core, and all your middleware and libraries already take advantage of it.

Anyway, I'm no insider, but this seems at least reasonable to assume... I think.
 

serversurfer

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Zoetis is already veted...
Oh? Well, hot damn! Tag threw me…


Thanks for the input. I know this might be impossible to answer. But how much of a boost in performance(fps)are we talking about?
It's not really that simple, but here's a very simple example. Say you had physics and AI running on the same core. Now you can move one to another core, so now each task has an entire core at its disposal rather having them "fight" over the same one all the time. So not only do both tasks have a lot more cycles to play with, they're not constantly being interrupted by the other guy trying to do his thing.
 

RootCause

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Feb 6, 2015
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Not so much on boost but more on stability, less fps drops, shadow distance, more objects on screen, etc. Horizons it's a game that had lots on screen and in order to mantain the game run smootly the dev probably has to drop some features, with an additional core unlocked it probably they won't need to sacrifice much to keep the fps smooth.
Oh? Well, hot damn! Tag threw me…



It's not really that simple, but here's a very simple example. Say you had physics and AI running on the same core. Now you can move one to another core, so now each task has an entire core at its disposal rather having them "fight" over the same one all the time. So not only do both tasks have a lot more cycles to play with, they're not constantly being interrupted by the other guy trying to do his thing.
Interesting. Thanks.
 

GameAddict411

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Aug 4, 2013
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yes but the Pentium is only a single core n? PS4 has 8 cores in tandem. But your phone definitely outclasses it and future phones will at least be 2x-5x more powerful before even mid-gen.
They might theoretically be more powerful, but I seriously doubt they can sustain the stock clock speed for more than 20 minutes(most phones throttle way before that). Being passively cooled has it's disadvantages. In fact the Microsoft surface pro 4 that has a laptop CPU that is cooled with a fan throttles pretty quickly.
 

serversurfer

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Aug 31, 2013
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Just guessing here, but it seems reasonable at least in my mind:

Exclusive to 1st party sounds like it really means 1st party are your beta testers. Unlock it for them, let them release a game or two, and see how things like

OS performance
Background music
Party chat
Secondary apps/web browser

Etc. all perform in the real world before opening the flood gates to all developers. In the name of stability of course :)

Another advantage of doing it this way is that your first party devs can work with middleware devs to start utilizing the extra core (and working out the bugs), and hopefully by the time it's available to all devs, the major middleware software already has support for it and it's an easy upgrade for third party devs.

Just think: boom, one day you suddenly have access to an extra core, and all your middleware and libraries already take advantage of it.

Anyway, I'm no insider, but this seems at least reasonable to assume... I think.
Good theory, but if there was any concern, they could've moved their shit off of Core6 and not said anything to anyone, including their own teams. Then when the world doesn't end, just let everyone know it's available now.
 

c0de

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I wouldn't see it as copying MS, it's just the natural maturation of the system over time and you would expect both platforms to do it. That MS made a song and dance over their's is the exception rather than the rule. As you can't reclaim resources once made available platform holders need to be cautious initially and only release when they're sure that the system doesn't need it. You would equally expect to see OS footprint reduced over time and more RAM made available for games over time.
I didn't say copy.
 

EvB

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Jan 20, 2012
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What about parity? Will 3rd party devs take full advantage of this or will they try to balance things out with XboxOne to keep Microsoft happy (and relevant)?
Serious question.
The Xbox One still has the advantage in the CPU stakes I think. Assassin's Creed Syndicate actually dropped the number of NPCs compared to Unity due to it being CPU intensive and the PS4 struggling to match the Xbox one is this respect.
 

RoboPlato

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Oct 29, 2006
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Naughty Dog designer

‏@RobertCogburn 3 minutes ago
Very helpful.
http://evilavatar.com/forums/showthread.php?t=231134 …

https://twitter.com/RobertCogburn/status/671360021813334018

The link leads to a forum with this story. Seems Uncharted 4 will be using the unlocked core.
Not surprised at all. Back at PSX when they were still targeting 60 it was CPU resources that were holding them back, GPU was right around 16.6ms when they showed the profiler, and their presentations on TLoUR were also CPU bound. Obviously they're not moving back to 60 for the SP target but I'm sure they would jump on this.
 

boredandlazy

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Feb 2, 2012
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The Xbox One still has the advantage in the CPU stakes I think. Assassin's Creed Syndicate actually dropped the number of NPCs compared to Unity due to it being CPU intensive and the PS4 struggling to match the Xbox one is this respect.
Well it depends. As far as I know the 7th core is still shared between the OS and the game on the XBOne? Whilst according to the insider in this thread the entire 7th core is available for PS4 games? Question is whether the slightly higher clock speed of the XBOne works better than the extra core? Depends on how the game is programmed I guess.
 

RoboPlato

I'd be in the dick
Oct 29, 2006
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Well it depends. As far as I know the 7th core is still shared between the OS and the game on the XBOne? Whilst according to the insider in this thread the entire 7th core is available for PS4 games? Question is whether the slightly higher clock speed of the XBOne works better than the extra core? Depends on how the game is programmed I guess.
Yeah, it depends on what the CPU is doing. Standard tasks will favor the XBO CPU but parallel tasks will favor the PS4's. Both are very small advantages over the other, at least by my understanding of the current state of each console's SDK.
 

zsynqx

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Sep 5, 2015
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Not surprised at all. Back at PSX when they were still targeting 60 it was CPU resources that were holding them back, GPU was right around 16.6ms when they showed the profiler, and their presentations on TLoUR were also CPU bound. Obviously they're not moving back to 60 for the SP target but I'm sure they would jump on this.
Yep, I assume you are talking about this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQZw7XxCLmM

If this unlocked core is currently exclusive to first party then Uncharted 4 will probably be the first game to utilize it.
 

Iacobellis

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Jun 25, 2012
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No thanks. After the 360 RROD fiasco last gen I'm determined to only buy one PS4 this gen, so if it cooks itself I won't be getting a replacement. The damn thing is hot enough as it is.
Who knows? They may do some small performance improvements in a true Slim model. Sony gave all post-1000 PSP models 64MB of RAM as a way to counter the absurd load times some games had. The CPU was also running at 333MHz with a firmware update.
 

thelastword

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Apr 7, 2006
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full core for gaming, sdk update 2 months ago, 1st party exclusive for now.
So in essence, Naughty, GG, Poliphony and SSM asked for this.......I'm thinking Naughty predominantly since their game lands early next year and they're doing some pretty impressive things with physics.

Funny that they're still calling for more CPU power even if they're doing lots with GPGPU already, what a dev.....