This time Sony is taking a "very developer-centric approach" with their console's inner workings, having consulted with studios, to make sure they avoid another 'hardware puzzle' to tackle.
In 2008 Cerny began surveying developers on what they'd like in a next-gen console and found "unified memory" atop their wishlist. PS4 is very similar in hardware to PC.
"Wanting to lead the effort wasn't based on any specific beliefs at that time, other than that clearly we had had some issues with PlayStation 3, in that a very developer-centric approach to the design of the PlayStation 4 would just make things go more smoothly overall," said lead system architect Mark Cerny.
"The biggest thing was that we didn't want the hardware to be a puzzle that programmers would be needing to solve to make quality titles," added Cerny. The PS3's CELL processor was notorious for stumping development teams early on as it was so different from everything else - while powerful it was underutilised because it was so hard to master.
In 2008 they started 'quietly' asking what studios want from a PS4. "It's not like we could come out and say we were developing the next generation of hardware -- we certainly couldn't say that in 2008," he recalled.
"My first tour of the developers, I had a questionnaire where I just asked them their thoughts on what the next generation might bring," he says. "The largest piece of feedback we got was that they wanted unified memory."
To that end the PlayStation 4 has a bulging 8GB of GDDR 5 RAM which is directly tapped into the combined CPU and GPU chipsets. "We quickly could tell that we should put either four or eight cores on the hardware," he continued. "The consensus was that any more than eight, and special techniques would be needed to use them, to get efficiency."
"It definitely was very helpful to have gone out and have done the outreach before sitting down to design the hardware."
The unveiling of the PlayStation 4 has been largely hailed by development studios because of its very close similarities to the PC, which gives the dev teams more time to fine tune their creations.
"When I started talking to the development community, prominent middleware companies were in the mix at that time. It's very important to us to have those engines on our platform," Cerny says. "I have to say, also, the insights that you can get by talking to their top technology people -- It's quite nice to have those insights when doing the hardware design."
Sony "had some issues" with PS3, admits PS4 architect
27 March 2013 | By Simon Priest