RAMvolution: 10 year console cycles and static hardware

Sony’s PlayStation 4 is essentially a midrange gaming PC that has limited upgradeability when it comes to increasing raw performance. Other than a swappable hard drive, the guts and brains of the PS4 will remain utterly fixed on tech deemed good enough for next generation but cheap enough so they don’t piss people off.

Essentially, console gamers everywhere are buying a time capsule circa 2013 where 8 gigs of GDDR5 RAM will remain for an entire development cycle. While it’s a mighty feat to use that much RAM on data processing and calculations simultaneously, it’s also hard to imagine a scenario where more couldn’t be beneficial.

On a raw command and execute level, 8 gigabytes of GDDR5 RAM is actually a lot for processing the data needed to run an OS, media options, and the game you’re currently playing. Even if you have many, many websites open to porn, cute kitten pictures, and programs dedicated to Facebook stalking, there won’t be noticeable lag because there is enough to fetch end data and process your freaky stuff through.

On the other hand, the PlayStation 4 promises a smooth experience while using their new OS that can download games and demos in the background while you go about your business (tee-hee). That’s great except for the tendency of developers to continually push the limits of data processing. Fast-forward 10 years and ask whether those 8 gigs will do anything against a 2023 game.

STFU More RAM Heathens
One of the biggest concerns for much nicer tech is the cost it takes to assemble it together. When you’re running with an Iron Man CPU, Captain America GPU, and a Thor-sized amount of RAM, you better expect Avengers luxury in the price tag. Instead, you’re getting the B-Team of Avengers technology. So, basically Hawkeye all around. The beauty of 8 gigs is that it’s perfectly average and can support a lot of pretty graphics and physics calculations.

In that department, it’s more about effectively utilizing what’s available than spreading processing across more RAM. This gives most game developers a baseline that never changes and that means optimized performance and the best for what’s there. For a good duration of the PS4’s life cycle, games will play great and there won’t be immediate cries for more data processing.

RAMvolution: 10 year console cycles and static hardwareThe comparison to a midrange gaming PC may not be the most accurate comparison considering the number of background programs used to operate its core systems. The PlayStation 4 will not have as many applications running at once and while most do not take a lot of RAM, you’re also not using a PC for heavy duty gaming all the time. You probably give your PC time to chill the fudge out while you’re watching porn.

Even if you were playing games all the time, you’d probably have more than the recommended RAM to play because that’s what a PC offers you. The PS4 is neatly packed so that future games will use enough RAM as necessary while leaving room for all the applications and social media options you want. In a sense, you’re blessed with the gift of stunted growth.

GTFO Less RAM Fools
Of course, 10 years is a long time to use the same architecture inside the PS4 and while there have been plenty of great games during the old man years of a development cycle (The Last of Us... Oh sweet baby back ribs, The Last of Us), most would probably want more room to advance the console.

Most people enjoy the swappable nature of a PC simply because it allows you to keep up with the latest tech. It’s also generally cheaper to gradually replace parts as you go along taking advantage of sales and older tech models. The PS4 is absent of this functionality and it’s essentially stuck in limbo for however long this new console generation lasts. On the bright side, you buy the console once and every game you buy for it will guarantee to play. On the brighter side, you can play with more advanced features on a PC because there is a wider range of configurations.

This may not be a huge selling point for some console gamers because the overall cost to maintain a PC is kind of expensive. However, the issue at hand is the amount of RAM on a PS4 and that’s relatively cheap. For the cost of a game, you can probably add more RAM to a PC and enhance performance. You can’t do that with the PS4.

As newer and newer standards are set in place for what qualifies as midrange, the PS4 will be forever alone in its inescapable abyss of 8 gigs. PC gamers will be all whiny-like about how much RAM they have and how awesome everything looks on their hardware.

You Guys Need to Like... Chill the F Out
Could it be possible to open up a PS4 console and insert more RAM? Sure, anything’s possible. Will there be any benefit for doing and spreading out the spectrum of specs? Not really. The problem with manually adding in more RAM is that there will no longer be a baseline for games or apps. You could always stick to the basics and build strictly for 8 gig systems, but that kind of eliminates the need to upgrade. That’s both the beauty and burden of a console.

Have a different opinion? Know something we don’t? Let us know in the comments below whether 8 gigabytes of GDDR5 RAM is plenty for the console’s presumed 10 year life cycle.

Article by - Collin Mak
Insert Date: 7/18/2013

See Also:


in due time

if there is any restriction to producers for games in the future the "Slim model" that WILL come out will have replaceable or upgradeable parts. However i dont see the need any time soon. However the hard drive would be the first to need addressing. depending on how Hard Core you are. But with the optional External there shouldn't be a need to replace the stock HDD. UNless you want to go with SSD which will have a quicker response time however the cost of a SSD out weights the upside at this point in time. 5 years down the road..... maybe

You're all looking at this wrong.

8 GB of ram is a nice baseline. While you're calling this a 'PC in a shiny sony case' it's not, its a console The PS3 has 256M+256M of ram, and an obscure processor. The cell processor was impressive when it came out. But the modern x86 they're throwing in the ps4 is more than capable too. You seem to forget a console with 512 MB of ram (the ps3) currently has games being made for it that look nearly as good as their pc counterparts, if not better due to the homogeneous hardware and software enviornment. 5 years from now, 8GB of ram might not seem like tons. But here in 2013, 512 MB, hell, actually 256 mb seems laughable and antique. Dont think of a console as a PC, it's not.