Report: PS4 developers can only access up to 5.5GB of RAM

Sony made quite the fuss over the amount of memory PS4 has. But, Sony hasn't been exactly forthcoming about memory allocation. Their next console reserves 3.5GB of memory for its operating system.

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Sony made quite the fuss over the amount of memory PS4 has. Not only will their next-gen system contain 8GB of RAM, it will be of the super-special GDDR-5 kind--one of the reasons why Sony argues that their system is a "supercharged" PC.

Xbox One, on the other hand, also offers 8GB of RAM, but at slower speeds. And, developers can only access 5GB of memory, with the other three reserved for the console's three operating systems. Clearly, PS4 seemed like the definitive winner here, with faster RAM and a not-as-bloated OS. But, apparently Sony hasn't been exactly forthcoming about memory allocation.

A new report by Digital Foundry shows that PS4 actually reserves 3.5GB of memory for its operating system--more than what Xbox One takes up. Only 4.5GB of memory is guaranteed for games. So, PS4 offers less RAM than Xbox One does, even if the speed is much faster. An additional 1GB of "flexible memory" can be "reclaimed" from the OS, if its available--a process that "isn't trivial," according to the report.

However, as Digital Foundry points out, PS4 was originally designed to support 4GB of RAM, with 512MB reserved for the console's operating system. The surprise announcement of 8GB of RAM at E3 means that Sony is clearly using much of that added memory to support system features, not necessarily games. PS3's limited OS memory was blamed for the lack of crucial features, like cross-game chat.

On Xbox One, the reserved memory can be used to suspend games and run apps. It's likely that PS4 will be able to do the same, especially with PSP Go and PS Vita both offering that feature.

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  • reply
    July 26, 2013 11:30 AM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, Report: PS4 developers can only access up to 5.5GB of RAM.

    Sony made quite the fuss over the amount of memory PS4 has. But, Sony hasn't been exactly forthcoming about memory allocation. Their next console reserves 3.5GB of memory for its operating system.

    • reply
      July 26, 2013 11:32 AM

      "Sony hasn't been exactly forthcoming"

      The lies keep getting exposed, will there be a backlash? Sadly not

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        July 26, 2013 12:25 PM

        Considering what developers have been doing with 512mb of RAM on the PS3. I don't find this all that big of a deal. Especially considering the Xbox OS will be taking up 3gb

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        July 26, 2013 12:31 PM

        Not lies, just factual omissions. The biggest of which will be when we find out their true DRM plans.

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        July 26, 2013 1:51 PM

        Its not shipping with kinect so its a win.

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        July 26, 2013 1:54 PM

        They probably didn't lie so much as just change their mind based on what they want to do with the OS in the future and it not putting them really at a disadvantage to the Xbone now that they know more about the Xbone.

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          July 26, 2013 3:37 PM

          It's marketing, and there's a pretty clear progression of how it happened.

          1) Sony has a press conference, says little about the PS4 and reveals little. People complain that they didn't show enough.
          2) Microsoft decides to show a lot at their conference, trying to make people happy. They show too much, people say it's crap, Sony throws out more marketing speak (while still not giving too much away) and people flood to Sony.
          3) As more information gets out on Sony, people will either validate their prior beliefs or (more likely IMO) be disappointing that what they were assuming is not true. This is the first indication of it.

          Ultimately it will come down to two things: how successful the Kinect is and how good Sony's OS is. Microsoft obviously knows how to have a strong OS - it's what they do. It remains to be seen how strong of an OS Sony can make. If they can make a decent OS, the extra power of their hardware will push them ahead. Assuming that Kinect isn't successful and people decide that having it is better than having the increased visuals.

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        August 2, 2013 4:36 AM

        actually, ya.. this is kinda shit imo. Didnt they even say at one point 7GB would be usable with 1GB to the OS?

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          August 2, 2013 4:43 AM

          or was that just some random internet blarhgarble?

          the whole "The Quantic Dream demo only used 4GB of the systems 8GB RAM" is kinda..derp.. after reading this.

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      July 26, 2013 11:32 AM

      well there is a lot of background stuff like the live recording for playbacks and sharing and all the internet shit running isn't it? 5.5GB dedicated is still a pretty hefty chunk

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        July 26, 2013 11:34 AM

        It's an absolutely massive boost over current gen.

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        July 26, 2013 11:38 AM

        It's more like 4.5 GB with potential extra 1 GB if the OS let's them borrow it.

      • reply
        July 26, 2013 4:47 PM

        Hey, PS4 wasn't made to watch TV and movies on, you guys said that was just for the XBox One.

    • reply
      July 26, 2013 11:48 AM

      [deleted]

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        July 26, 2013 12:10 PM

        Microsoft has said that the OS can take UP TO 3 gb. I don't know that it needs 3gb the whole time, they haven't clarified that point.

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          July 26, 2013 12:11 PM

          Also, keep in mind, there are basically two OSes running inside VMs (so the third OS is the VM manager)... so you know...

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      July 26, 2013 11:54 AM

      So, in general this just puts the system on par with current PC game development. Little disappointing but was expecting this looking at the system features Sony was promoting.
      But this could easy change with a system update.

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        July 26, 2013 12:13 PM

        Well, current PC games are all 32bit, so right now it's about 3.5 theoretical gigs of RAM usage right now. I am actually wondering how quickly we'll see a transition to 64bit programs once the nextgen consoles roll around.

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        July 26, 2013 12:29 PM

        No exactly. Look at Far Cry 3 for example, on PC 4gb of ram are required to play and the PS3 is running Far Cry 3 on 512mb of ram.

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        July 27, 2013 10:34 PM

        No. You cant compare console architecture to that of a gaming PC someone built, they arent the same. Core components such as GPU, CPU, RAM, DAP, etc can be similar but the major difference is the UMA. Consoles are designed with a unified memory architecture design specifically to run console games with lower foot prints.

        Running something like FC3 on a console is not the same as running it on a PC.

    • reply
      July 26, 2013 11:56 AM

      Well, let's see what developers say. The developers working on both platforms will most likely already know this. It will be interesting to see what they say about this.

      Is 4 GB enough for most games? - Most likely

      Would 8 GB allocated for the games be better? - Almost certainly

      Will it matter if one platform has slightly less memory available for the games than the other? - Probably not much

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      July 26, 2013 12:10 PM

      MATHS, THEY AM HARD

      3.5 + 5.5 = 9

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        July 26, 2013 12:18 PM

        There is 1GB of "flexible" memory, which means games can access up to 5.5GB of memory, but only 4.5GB are guaranteed.

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          July 26, 2013 12:24 PM

          Yea, that comment was before I read the whole thing. The snippet + headline is a bit misleading.

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      July 26, 2013 12:13 PM

      How does this compare with the Xbox one, though?

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        July 26, 2013 12:13 PM

        Answered above. nm!

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        July 26, 2013 12:14 PM

        More or less depending on how you read what Sony said.

        Basically only 4.5 GB is "guaranteed" which is less than Xbox One's 5 GB. But, apparently a non-trivial "recovery" can net you about 1 GB more, so 5.5 GB is available in theory, but I guess we will have to see if that's really used much in the real world.

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          July 26, 2013 12:27 PM

          I think the first party developers will get the full benefits of that flexible memory.

    • reply
      July 26, 2013 12:41 PM

      I have a GTX Titan with 6GB of RAM and I monitor pretty much every game I play and even at PC max settings, I never even put a dent in that 6GB (Crysis 3, Witcher 2, etc), so I don't see this being as big a deal as people are going to try and make it

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        July 26, 2013 12:48 PM

        Your Titan's GPU memory is solely for graphics and your system's RAM is for everything else. It would be very inefficient for your system to swap/share memory on the Motherboard and GPU. The new consoles use unified memory where both the graphics and non-graphics are sharing the same pool of RAM.

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          July 26, 2013 1:27 PM

          The Xbox One isn't quite as unified as they are letting you believe. They have large 8GB for system memory and 32MB framebuffer. So either way you are going to have swap data between buffers.

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            July 26, 2013 2:02 PM

            The 360 had the same type of high-speed cache, I don't see how having that extra cache qualifies something a being less unified. And I was under the impression the the xb1's cache wasn't just a framebuffer, in that the framebuffer could be kept in main memory if the developer chose to use the ESRAM for something else.

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            July 26, 2013 3:46 PM

            The bandwidth between that buffer is huge. It's basically the next generation version of the eDRAM from the 360 architecture.

            http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-xbox-one-memory-better-in-production-hardware

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              July 29, 2013 7:29 AM

              Yes, but see, he doesn't know what he's talking about. If he did he wouldn't want to bring up this fast RAM at all.

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        July 26, 2013 12:58 PM

        Aren't we talking unified memory here? 6go used for both main memory and GPU.

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        July 26, 2013 1:05 PM

        pretty sure that we are not talking about vram here

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        July 26, 2013 1:09 PM

        Your graphics card isn't doing AI, and all the other stuff that goes into a game though. But I will also admit it is far better than what the current gen consoles have.

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        July 26, 2013 1:59 PM

        Yeah but increasing the size of stuff adds up super quick. doubling the res of a texture makes its 4 times bigger because it has to get bigger in two directions. Add in all the other textures that are used for just one material. Diffuse, normal, displacement maybe, blends, etc.

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      July 26, 2013 1:23 PM

      I'm assuming all this recording game footage comes at a price, among all the other features.. Maybe some of it's being put into RAM before being compressed to the HD, if it's not solely steaming-based.

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      July 26, 2013 1:34 PM

      it's the MS surface debacle all over again! oh noes! some things already use memory?!?! OH NOES

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      July 26, 2013 2:16 PM

      This is absurd. Preorder canceled.

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      July 26, 2013 2:23 PM

      Poor Sony, it's a fucking slaughterhouse. they bleed profusely from the asshole while Xbox Ones shift at 200% the pace of PS4's for 12 months.

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      July 26, 2013 3:40 PM

      Preorder intentions canceled

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      July 26, 2013 7:57 PM

      Disappointed in both systems. I wish they would focus on gaming.

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      July 27, 2013 3:01 AM

      FYI, the Digital Foundry report has been updated. It's actually 4.5 GB, up to 5.0 GB:

      "A new source familiar with the matter has provided additional information to Digital Foundry that confirms only 4.5GB of the PS4's 8GB GDDR5 memory pool is guaranteed to game developers right now, while also clarifying how the PS4's "flexible memory" works in practice.

      In real terms, an additional 512MB of physical RAM may be available in addition to the 4.5GB mentioned in the SDK. Flexible memory consists of physical and virtual spaces, and the latter introduces paging issues which impact performance. In our original story we combined them together.

      For practical game applications, the correct figures for this story, as we understand it now, are a guaranteed 4.5GB for development and a further 512MB from the flexible pool. We have updated the headline accordingly."

      http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-ps3-system-software-memory

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      July 27, 2013 5:27 AM

      Not enough PC gaming trash talk here, what a change of pace.

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      July 28, 2013 11:51 PM

      Wasn't this kinda expected? The amount of memory required alone to record 15 minutes of game play can't be small.

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      July 29, 2013 11:16 AM

      I don't see a big deal. It's all software. A firmware update can reduce the footprint. Of course it can go in the other direction and take up more ram with more bloated applications.