According to a Crytek employee, memory options for next-gen consoles may prove to be insufficient for demanding next-gen games.
Is 8GB of RAM not enough for next-gen consoles? More than a few developers have praised the PlayStation 4’s 8GB of DDR5 RAM option–and Witch Beam even went so far as to call it “the most powerful console in the world“.
But Sean Tracy, who heads up business development management for Crytek’s in-house CryEngine, has a very different perspective.
In a recent interview with Gaming Bolt, Tracy expressed that current developers could utilize 8GB of RAM with ease and the computational requirements alone can “quickly hit the ceiling of a few gigs of RAM”. This sentiment was first summed up by Havok’s Head of Product Management Andrew Bowell, who basically said that devs would use up 8GB’s of RAM “in no time”.
If Tracy’s predictions are apt, this may transform the once-touted specification into a limitation instead of an asset.
“I would have to agree with the viewpoint that 8 gigs can easily be filled up,” Tracy began.
“Since technology, as Ray Kurweil states, progresses exponentially, we will soon find that the computational requirements of games will quickly hit the ceiling of a few gigs of ram.”
Interestingly enough, the Crytek exec further pontificates that the team faced limitations while developing Ryse: Son of Rome for the Xbox One, forcing them to intensely manage their memory usage:
“We already had to manage quite intensely our memory usage throughout Ryse and this will be one of the limiting factors surely in this generation.”
Tracy continues by making the point that the full RAM capacity isn’t always accessible to devs, citing the Xbox One as a prime example:
“But also keep in mind that developers don’t necessarily even have access to all 8 gigs of it. For example the Xbox One retains some of the RAM for OS purposes.”
When Microsoft and Sony were formulating plans for the PS4 and Xbox One, Crytek was a staunch proponent of having at least 8GB of RAM in both units. Apparently this may not be enough to keep up with memory-intensive games, but conversely this will ultimately lead to developers devising new methods and workarounds to efficiently maintain memory usage of both consoles.
Tracy finishes by saying that raw power can’t be solely responsible for higher-end graphics; the need for scaling tech is ever-present and will likely grow as games become more impressive in their fidelity:
“As hardware gets stronger the complexity of scenes can be increased and the dynamism within them. However, with that said it’s not the raw power alone that will allow for photo-realistic graphics but technology that intelligently scales and utilizes all that the hardware has to offer.”
Shortly after the interview was published, forum-goers on NeoGAF caught wind and criticized the studio for its seeming hypocrisy. Another Crytek employee stepped in to clarify that Tracy was pretty much trying to say that 8GB of RAM is sufficient for now, but future titles will assuredly need more memory.
While Tracy’s words don’t necessarily read that way at first glance, we do see his points about future titles possibly becoming limited by 8GB of RAM.
It certainly seems likely that next-gen games in the coming years will demand more memory and be quite intensive, but by that time devs will certainly know a few tricks to even out the playing field. When we look at the progress that studios like Naughty Dog have made with last-gen’s PlayStation 3, it becomes evident that this trend will continue onward as long as games are being made.