Chances are you haven’t realized it, but your PlayStation 4 got a little bit more powerful. The PlayStation 4 comes with an octa-core CPU. Until now, game developers could leverage six of them while the other two ran the operating system. But Sony recently unlocked the 7th core for games, or at least part of it.
Sony hasn’t communicated about the move yet, but some developers are already taking advantage of the 7th core. For instance, audio middleware maker Firelight Technologies released a new version of its sound effects engine FMOD.
FMOD runs on every platform out there — PlayStation 2, 3, 4, Portable and Vita, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii, Wii U, 3DS, iOS, Android, OS X, Windows, Linux and more. It has been integrated in many popular game engines, such as the Unreal Engine, Unity, the CryEngine, Source and more. In other words, Firelight Technologies knows how to optimize its audio engine for all platforms.
As a reminder, Microsoft did the exact same thing earlier this year, letting developers leverage the 7th core on the Xbox One.
Both the PS4 and Xbox One have been using this core for some system tasks, such as voice commands. It looks like game developers will have to share this core with these tasks.
So what does it mean if you have a PlayStation 4? All the games you already have use 6 cores. They’ve been optimized to run on 6 cores, and they won’t take advantage of the new core without a new patch. There isn’t much incentive to spend time updating existing games if they run fine on 6 cores.
As for new games, they can now take advantage of the 7th core if it’s not too late during the development. Game engine developers will all update their engines to leverage this new feature.
But remember that GPU power is more important than CPU power on the PS4 and Xbox One. Game developers have been offloading tasks to the GPU. So today’s change isn’t earth-shattering, but games might run a little bit smoother.