Crytek Gripes About Current Generation Consoles "Only" Having 8GB of Memory
May 19, 2014 12:29 PM
Part of the Xbox One's memory footprint gets eaten up by the OS UI leaving only 5 GB for games, Crytek points out
Crytek has focused much of its recent gaming efforts
on cloud-based streaming PC gaming services
. But the top
gaming engine developer
remains a force in the console market as well. It aired its thoughts in
a recent interview
, notably its complaints about this generation of consoles "lacking" video memory hardware.
I. Too Little Memory?
Crytek’s US Engine Business Development Manager Sean Tracy comments on the current generation of consoles:
I would have to agree with the viewpoint that 8 gigs can easily be filled up, but also keep in mind that developers don’t necessarily even have access to all 8 gigs of it. For example the Xbox One retains some of the RAM for OS purposes. Since technology, as Ray Kurweil states, progresses exponentially, we will soon find that the computational requirements of games will quickly hit the ceiling of a few gigs of ram. We already had to manage quite intensely our memory usage throughout Ryse and this will be one of the limiting factors surely in this generation.
As hardware gets stronger the complexity of scenes can be increased and the dynamism within them. However, with that said it’s not the raw power alone that will allow for photo-realistic graphics but technology that intelligently scales and utilizes all that the hardware has to offer.
II. The Hardware
has 8 Gigabytes (GB) of DDR3 -- specifically, sixteen 4-Gigabit (Gb) modules (H5TQ4G63AFR-TEC) from SK Hynix Inc. (
), according to
. That memory must be shared between graphics (e.g. textures, etc.), program data from running applications, and operating system data/core apps. The lattermost category -- operating system data/core apps -- consumes 3 GB, leaving only 5 GB left for games and other apps to use .
The Xbox One motherboard packs 8 GB of DDR3 (orange). [Image Source: iFixit]
The Xbox One does have 32 Megabytes (MB) of on-die "embedded static" RAM (ESRAM) on its graphics processing unit (GPU) die, which offers much faster speeds for speed-dependent applications such as alpha transparency blending.
The Sony PS4 packs 256 MB of system memory (green, right), and 8 GB of GDDR5 graphics memory (orange, both). [Image Source: iFixit]
By contrast the Sony Corp. (
(which happens to be outselling the Xbox One) has 2 Gbit (256 MB) of memory (via a single dedicated chip) for system tasks, including the OS and core apps according to the results of
. It also packs 16 4-Gb GDDR5 modules (K4G41325FC-HC03) from Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
), for a grand total of 8 GB of GDDR5.
III. Other Opinions
How this all impacts gamemakers depends on what the developer's expectations of realism are.
a Dublin, Ireland subsidiary of Intel
) which makes
for both consoles, had previously put things in a more diplomatic manner. Product manager Andrew Bowell commented in
Even with the large amounts of RAM available, the developers will still find ways to use even last byte. To that end, it is always a requirement for middleware to have the smallest possible memory footprint. This is also becoming even more of a requirement as console developers look at ways to bring their title to mobile platforms.
And others still didn't seem to consider it a big deal at all. Lighting middleware company Enlighten also spoke to
about the memory question. COO and cofounder Chris Doran comments:
Both of these are more than sufficient. To understand why, you have to remember than on the current generation we had around 512MB of memory to play with. This meant that developers would routinely ask us to fit our global illumination calculations into 10-20MB.
On the next-generation consoles, developers are happy to give us 10 times more space to play with – in some cases even more! And with 8 CPU cores and powerful GPUs, there is plenty of compute resource for us to make use of. It is this massive increase from current generation to next generation that really excites us – that factor of 10 increase is going to be far more significant than the additional memory on the PS4.
I’m sure as the cycle evolves, developers will look at ways to squeeze more out of the PS4, but we have a long way to go with exploiting the opportunities presented by the massive jump in resource over PS3 and 360.
(Enlighten did the lighting effects for Electronic Arts, Inc.'s (
The message seems to be that the Xbox One's unified memory scheme and heavy OS memory usage does create some limitations, but unless you're making Crysis 4, those limitations won't necessarily be dealbreakers.
“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads
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