The PlayStation 4 will ship with a massive 8 GB of GDDR5 memory, which is a huge upgrade compared to the current generation consoles. However, according to a PlayStation 4 developer PS4Daily spoke to, they have access to “only” 7 GB of RAM. The remaining 1 GB is reserved for the operating system and background tasks.
Sony showcased a lot of PlayStation 4 features during the unveiling in February. This includes deep social features running in the background, new sharing options where players can watch each other play, and background downloading of games. All this chews up quite a bit of memory. Still, having access to 7 GB of super-fast GDDR5 memory is a lot better than the 512 MB in the PS3.
Sony originally shipped dev kits to third party developers with only 4 GB RAM, and kept the true RAM amount secret from third party developers in order to keep it secret from Microsoft as well. Developers learned about the 8 GB of memory when the rest of the world did — during the February unveiling.
In addition to 8 GB of RAM, the PlayStation 4 sports an 8 core CPU and a GPU with 18 compute units, both part of the same APU package made by AMD. Sony worked close with developers to give them a console that’s tailored for games. Sony interviewed major game engine makers such as Epic (Unreal Engine 4), CryTek (CryEngine 3), and Id Software (Id Tech 5), asking them what they wanted out of next generation consoles. Overall, Sony worked closely with developers to create a console that made it easy to create games.
When it comes to large operating systems taking up a lot of RAM, Sony isn’t alone. Nintendo did something similar with the Wii U. The Wii U ships with 2 GB or RAM, but half of it — 1 GB — is allocated to the operating system itself. As console makers add more and more features, they need more and more memory to run those features. Microsoft is even rumored to include advanced DVR functionality in the upcoming Xbox 720, which will no doubt require copious amounts of RAM.
Sony is expected to reveal more PlayStation 4 details at E3 in June. We’re also hearing that this is when some of the NDAs will be lifted, where developers will be more free to talk about the specifics of the new console.