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Sony unlocks more CPU power for PS4 game developers

Seventh processor core now available.

PlayStation 4's hardware design heavily favours GPU power over CPU prowess, a situation that has limited performance in a number of titles - and an area where Xbox One has an advantage. The situation isn't helped by the fact that two of the eight available cores are reserved for the console operating system. Earlier this year, Microsoft unlocked a good proportion of CPU time on a seventh core, and now Sony has followed suit.

The information surfaced on Friday night on the Beyond3D forum where the latest changelog notes for the FMOD audio middleware noted the following:

  • PS4 - Added FMOD_THREAD_CORE6 to allow access to the newly unlocked 7th core.

Just one source then, but a compelling one. Over the weekend we consulted our contacts and can confirm that Core 6 has indeed been unlocked and is available for game developers to utilise. However, there are a couple of caveats here. First of all, it's highly likely that existing games will have no access to the additional CPU power by default - unless the developer in question decides to update the title via a patch to specifically add support.

Secondly, questions remain as to how much CPU time from the unlocked core developers actually have access to. When Microsoft unlocked the seventh core on Xbox One, the amount of resources available from the core at any given point would vary, based on OS requirements. For example, using voice commands could see up to 50 per cent of the core's resources tied up.

Right now it's not entirely clear whether similar conditions are in place at all on PlayStation 4, but one source informs us that PlayStation 4's debugging and analysis tool - called Razor - "splits the activity on that core between user and system", which does seem to suggest that the seventh processing core is shared to a certain extent between the OS and game.

Overall then - this is obviously good news. In a system where CPU processing power is at a premium, the more there is available to game developers, the better. We've invited comment from Sony and will update with any response, and if more information on the potential divide in resources emerges, we'll be sure to let you know.

Image credits: iFixit, Wired

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Richard Leadbetter avatar

Richard Leadbetter

Technology Editor, Digital Foundry

Rich has been a games journalist since the days of 16-bit and specialises in technical analysis. He's commonly known around Eurogamer as the Blacksmith of the Future.

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