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How PlayStation 4 Works


The Console as PC
The system architecture for the PS4 is departure from the Cell architecture of the PS3.
The system architecture for the PS4 is departure from the Cell architecture of the PS3.
© EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

Much of the PS4 excitement began with an initial press conference in February 2013, in which some of the product's guts were spilled. It was immediately clear that Sony was breaking with some of its past in order to create this console of the future.

For the PS4, Sony discarded the Cell architecture of the PS3 era. Although this system provided a lot of muscle for great gameplay, software developers sometimes struggled to work within its constraints. The PS4, however, is based on the x86 architecture, which is the platform used in many contemporary PCs. Sony hopes this change will result is faster, easier development for game designers.

To that end, under the PS4's hood you'll find an 8-core AMD Jaguar X86 64-bit processor. It will also have a whole lot of RAM, in the form of 8GB (gigabytes) of GDDR5 (Graphics Double Data Rate, version 5) RAM.

Crucially, that RAM is shared between the 64-bit CPU and an AMD Radeon GPU (graphics processing unit). Although the model of the GPU hasn't been named, Sony indicated that this chip is capable of about 2 teraflops of computing performance.

All the technical talk aside, what all of this means is that with the PS4, you're getting the equivalent of a pretty powerful desktop computer -- but one that's geared towards optimizing graphics-intensive gameplay.

There's a lot more to the technical details of the PS4. On the next page, you'll see how Sony is pressing the issue when it comes to gaming innovation.


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