An in-depth look at one of the PlayStation 4's components and analyzing what it is, why it improves on the past generation of consoles and what this component will do for your PlayStation 4 gaming experience. In this article, we will be focusing on the PlayStation 4's RAM.
GDDR5 8GB. RAM, short for Random Access Memory, is a term you might be familiar with if you've ever spent a significant amount of time with a PC. For the most part, the RAM in your PC does the same thing as the RAM in your PS3 or PS4, which is storing a program or game inside of it once loaded from the hard drive. While this may sound similar to what a hard drive does at first glance, there are major differences between the two. Your hard drive is a permanent storage unit for content but in general is not built for speed; when a program or game needs to access the hard drive for further information, you'll experience slowdown in your game as it takes time for your gaming console or computer to access this information. For this reason, your gaming console or PC stores information in the RAM, where it can be accessed quickly and repeatedly as the RAM is connected directly to the motherboard. When a PS3 game level is loading, the game is actually storing that level's information into your RAM so it can quickly access it without slowing down the game. The more RAM your console has, the more data that can be stored inside of it; for example, higher amounts of RAM can equal better graphics or more enemies onscreen at one time. To further complicate matters, RAM speed is not the only factor to consider when looking at how good a stick of RAM is: the different types of RAM all have varying speeds, ranging from the lowly SRAM to the blazing fast DDR5 RAM.
With each new console comes a huge jump in RAM. The PlayStation 2 was equipped with only 32 MB of RAM, a pitiful number that these days that wouldn't even be sufficient to run the latest Windows operating system. Load times were long (though not as long as the original PlayStation, which sported a whopping 2 MB of RAM) and issues like pop-up and fog were used to mask the fact that the system could not store large amounts of data in the RAM due to small number.
Both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 saw a huge increase in RAM from the PlayStation 2, with both consoles sporting 512 MB of RAM; however, again this number still wouldn't be suitable to run the latest version of Windows and both consoles suffered for it. While load times became non-existent and the RAM enabled games like Dead Rising, sporting hundreds of enemies onscreen, to come into existence, eventually the PC would overtake the consoles both in features and in graphics due to the ability to easily increase the RAM available. 512 MB of RAM wasn't enough when the PlayStation 3 launched and, nearing the end of the console generation, it can be said the RAM is what held the system back. In addition, the PlayStation 3 had one major flaw: its RAM was divided between the video card and the rest of the console, effectively halving the available RAM to 256 MB. This is one of the key reasons that PlayStation 3 ports generally ran worse than their counterparts on the Xbox 360.
One example is Skyrim: due to the lower amount of RAM, the PS3 version of the game suffered from glitches and bugs that were not an issue on the Xbox 360. All Bethesda games suffered the same problems on the PlayStation 3 for the most part, which is that the system didn't have enough RAM to effectively load the entirety of the world at times leading to complete system freezes.
History will not repeat itself on the PlayStation 4 as Sony is coming prepared for the long haul. The PlayStation 4 features the largest increase in RAM yet: Unified 8GB DDR5 RAM. Current reports suggest that the PS4 will utilize 3.5 gigs of RAM solely for the operation of core functions such as the user interface and game downloads. This leaves 4.5 gigs leftover for games to use and while this may seem like a significantly lower number than the promised 8 GB of GDDR5 RAM, it's worth noting that the PS3 only had 512 megabytes of RAM at its disposal. It is also rumored that the PS4 can steal an additional gigabyte of RAM if its needs the extra processing power from the OS.
Not only is this RAM on-par with some of the fastest PC builds available, this RAM type is significantly faster than past offerings. What can you expect with RAM of this size and ability? Expect load times to be a thing of the past and for the PS4 to have no problem rendering huge, expansive worlds that are well-populated. One look at Watch Dogs, for example, will show you the PlayStation 4's RAM in action:
One major addition to the PlayStation 4 is the ability to suspend play by pushing the Power button and returning to that same spot in the game once you turn the system back on. This is made possible due to the increase in RAM, as the console can store the necessary game data onto the RAM and load it back up at the push of a button. Additionally, you can now browse other aspects of the XMB while playing a game without needing to close the game.
Just Add Water CEO Stewart Gilray, in an interview with Videogamer, shed some light on the RAM from a developer's perspective:
"When you press the PlayStation button on a PS3 game, you get the basic XMB up [but] to do anything you have to quit the game, because of the memory for it. With PS4 we don't have that because the system memory is already ring-fenced for itself. It's a fantastic amount of memory, especially DDR5 memory, because it's so fast you don't have to have everything there at once."
Ultimately, it's up to the developers to utilize the RAM to best suit their games. With the PlayStation 4 architecture being PC-based, the same PC architecture developers use to create their games in the first place, PlayStation 4 gamers are definitely in good hands. For once, the PlayStation isn't held back by its components before it launches: 8 GB of RAM should be more than enough for this console generation. What does the future hold? 16 GB? 32 GB? The ability to render entire worlds without so much as a loading screen? Post your comments below.
Will 8 GB of GDDR5 RAM be enough for the PS4’s 10-year console cycle? 8 gigabytes of GDDR5 RAM seems like enough RAM for a couple of years. But what about a 10 year "console" cycle? Will it be enough? Let us know in the comments below.
Article by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 4/8/2013