PS4 Info Blowout, Details the GPGPU and How Sony London is Involved

Sony’s next-gen console is coming! And here’s the info out there now…

While Sony has been rather quiet when it comes to the PlayStation 4, industry speculation is that it's set to come out sooner rather than later; add in the fact that most big studios are publicly known to be developing next-gen games, most industry figures and game enthusiasts peg the PS4 to be out either next year, or sometime in 2014.

Fortunately, there are a lot of info available out there now that doesn't rely on anonymous sources or industry leaks to tell us a bit about the PS4.  

One of these info is a job listing on industry site Gamasutra, where Sony has posted an ad for a "Lead Systems Engineer,"whose job description reads, "SCEA is currently looking for a highly talented Lead Systems Engineer that will act as an industry expert and a leader in systems level development on PlayStation platforms.  This individual should be able to lead a team of engineers to handle various low-level systems issues, foster and strengthen relationships with various internal groups to leverage existing technologies, and collaborate with industry-leading developers." 

While not naming it outright, it heavily implies that this Lead Systems Engineer's job is to interact with the PS4 and the developers working on development kits.

Also noteworthy here is that the job ad mentions the applicant should have "experience in GPGPU programming." This is important since other positions that we'll discuss later also mentions "GPGPU" as a major constant that seems to be important to the PS4.

So, what exactly is a "GPGPU?" As an abbreviated term for General-purpose computing and graphics processing units, it's been used by companies such as NVIDIA for supercomputers but came into general use when this generation of consoles were ushered in. In Gizmodo's simpler terms, "a GPU does basically one thing, speed up the processing of image data that you end up seeing on your screen." And according to AMD Stream Computing Director Patricia Harrell, "they're essentially chains of special purpose hardware designed to accelerate each stage of the geometry pipeline, the process of matching image data or a computer model to the pixels on your screen."

To put it into less technical terms, NVIDIA's Sanford Russell explains, " If you were looking for a word in a book, and handed the task to a CPU, it would start at page 1 and read it all the way to the end, because it's a "serial" processor. It would be fast, but would take time because it has to go in order. A GPU, which is a 'parallel' processor,' would tear [the book] into a thousand pieces" and read it all at the same time. Even if each individual word is read more slowly, the book may be read in its entirety quicker, because words are read simultaneously."

In other related info, Sony's London studio, which focuses more on Sony's casual and other projects like the PlayStation Home, PS Eye and games such as SingStar and the recently-released Wonderbook, is now also known to be developing a graphics library for the PS4. In a job listing for a Graphics Programmer, they mention, "an opportunity to work on the shaping of a newly developed set of graphics libraries which will become the core graphics technology for the prestigious London studio for many years to come."

Not only that. but the Role Overview lists the following:

Join us in applying cutting edge graphics research in numerous areas to differentiate the visual presentation of our games, and set the bar for the industry:

  • Real-time Global Illumination of fully dynamic scenes using Instant Radiosity

  • High fidelity materials and physically based shaders

  • Fluid simulation and rendering

  • Volumetric lighting and shadows

  • Procedural geometry: fur, hair, grass

  • Advanced post-processing techniques

  • Next generation particles and volumetric effects

  • Maintain an up-to-date knowledge of emerging graphical techniques within Sony Worldwide Studios and the wider graphics community 

  • Opportunity to drive forward the direction and quality of the visual effects based on this knowledge

  • Create viable technical solutions to effects requirements


Also of note, in the "Requirements," it mentions that "GPGPU experience is an advantage," which adds credence that this is also a position that will interact with the PS4.

For more info regarding Global Illumination, Instant Radiosity and how DirectX11 is involved with the PS4, head on over to PlayStation Lifestyle's in-depth report.

With the evidence out there now, I think it's safe to say that the PS4's release is an inevitability in the next one to two years. Far more important now is when exactly will it be out and how much will it cost? 

Based from what you read so far, are you excited for the PS4 or will it once again play second fiddle to whatever Microsoft has planned for the Xbox 720? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Source: PS Lifestyle