Recent rumors have stipulated that 3.5 gigs of the PlayStation 4’s total pool of 8 gigs of RAM is taken up by the console’s operating system, leaving 4.5 gigs left for developers to utilize. Apparently these rumors have sent shockwaves throughout the gaming community, leading more than a few gamers to see Sony’s prominent next-gen console in a lesser light.
The coverage was originally published on Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry, wherein the publication cites “well-informed” contacts as the source of the info. Since the coverage went live, Sony has issued a statement that explains the two types of memory–direct and flexible–that are utilized by the console’s operating system:
We would like to clear up a misunderstanding regarding our “direct” and “flexible” memory systems. The article states that “flexible” memory is borrowed from the OS, and must be returned when requested – that’s not actually the case.
The actual true distinction is that:
- “Direct Memory” is memory allocated under the traditional video game model, so the game controls all aspects of its allocation
- “Flexible Memory” is memory managed by the PS4 OS on the game’s behalf, and allows games to use some very nice FreeBSD virtual memory functionality. However this memory is 100 per cent the game’s memory, and is never used by the OS, and as it is the game’s memory it should be easy for every developer to use it.
We have no comment to make on the amount of memory reserved by the system or what it is used for.
After Sony delivered their statement, Digital Foundry promptly updated their report to reflect the new information. Now the coverage indicates that developers will have access to a combined pool of about 5 gigs rather than the previous 4.5GB thanks to the extra gig from the operating system’s flexible memory:
“We understand that this is a 1GB virtual address space, split into two areas – 512MB of on-chip RAM is used (the physical area) and another 512MB is ‘paged,’ perhaps like a Windows swap file,” the site said. “But to be clear, of the 8GB of GDDR5 on PS4, our contention is that 5GB of it is available to developers.”
The users at NeoGAF have a different story, however: an insider by the name of Thuway has hinted that the PlayStation 4 might reserve as much as six gigs of memory for developers, with two gigs left over for the OS. Thuway posted an update wherein he outright disclosed that there are “[PS4]titles in development that are using 6GB’s of RAM”.
Brian Provinciano, the developer of the nostalgic indie hit Retro City Rampage, has recently weighed on these rumors, calling the rumors “absolutely false” and “ridiculous”:
@mrnray It’s absolutely false. Absolutely ridiculous.
— Brian Provinciano (@BriProv) July 27, 2013
Brian P. also published an editorial on the subject, and his words certainly help put things into perspective and give insight on a console’s internal memory and the tools offered to developers.
While Sony has issued a formal statement that explains the differences between the PS4’s flexible and direct memory, the Japanese gaming giant hasn’t given an official value as to how much RAM devs will have access to. Additionally the claims made by NeoGAF users–however close to the mark they may be–must be chalked up to conjecture and can’t be accepted until verified by Sony.
It will be interesting to see if Sony speaks out further regarding the exact pool of RAM available to developers in the future–maybe we’ll hear something at the upcoming events like Gamescom or this year’s Tokyo Game Show.