Sony Patents New GPU-Switching Technology for ‘PS4’

Sony has patented a technology allowing the next-generation PS4 to switch between two architecturally distinct GPUs.

PlayStation 4 Design concept

Microsoft isn't the only company to be working on a next-generation console, as Sony appears to be hard at work on their next-gen PlayStation, which we're tentatively referring to as the PS4. A sleuth on NeoGAF discovered that the Japanese company recently patented "Dynamic Context Switching Between Architecturally Distinct GPUs."

The abstract of the patent reads as follows: "Graphics processing in a computer graphics apparatus having architecturally dissimilar first and second graphics processing units (GPU) is disclosed. Graphics input is produced in a format having an architecture-neutral display list. One or more instructions in the architecture neutral display list are translated into GPU instructions in an architecture specific format for an active GPU of the first and second GPU."

It's a mouthful. To put it in layman's terms, the Sony has filed a patent for a technology that'll integrates the APU and GPU in its next-gen gaming platform. The idea is that the system will allow two architecturally distinct GPUs to work in tandem and balance the load. The result is the system will be able to handle graphically intense games with powerful physics engines without conking out.

The technology is same as what Apple's line of Macbook Pros offer, allowing the OS to switch between low-performance, low-power consumption integrated GPU for web browsing and desktop, and a dedicated GPU for more intensive purposes, like gaming and rendering movies.

Essentially, this will allow the PlayStation 3 to use the relatively low-performance GPU to handle the operating system and the overlays, which typically lag the hell out of a game when you hit the PlayStation home button; while the game runs in the background on the dedicated GPU without taking a performance hit. It only makes sense to implement task switching and a social overlay if Sony intends to improve its social networking capabilities for the PlayStation Network.