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PlayStation 4 Could Get GPU Switching, Dynamic UI

By - Source: USPTO | B 61 comments

The Internet was floated a new rumor that suggests that the next Playstation could be equipped with GPU switching technology.

The rumor isn't that far-fetched since we previously heard that Sony will be using an AMD APU as well as a Southern Islands GPU in its next game console. A patent describing an automated GPU switching process provides further credibility that Sony is aiming for a flexible, power optimized GPU infrastructure for the PS4.

The patent application for "dynamic context switching between architecturally distinct graphics processors" was already filed back in 2009 and published in late 2010, which would indicate that it is not the latest information on Sony's development. The purpose of the GPU switching technology is summed up by the patent application authors as follows:

"It would be desirable to allow the context switching to be hidden from the user and performed automatically in the background. Unfortunately, no solution is presently available that allows for dynamic, real-time context switching between architecturally distinct GPUs. The closest prior art is the Apple MacBook Pro, from Apple Computer of Cupertino, Calif., which contains two architecturally distinct GPUs but does not allow dynamic context switches between them. Another prior art solution is the Scalable Link Interface (SLI) architecture developed by Nvidia Corporation of Santa Clara, Calif. This architecture lets a user run one or more GPUs in parallel, but only for the purpose of increasing performance, not to reduce power consumption. Also, this solution requires the two GPUs to be synchronized when the system is enabled, again requiring some amount of user intervention."

The document does not specify a target product for the technology, but the full automation without user interaction hints to a consumer device and not a notebook computer.

Sony recently filed several patent applications that may hint to the future PS4. Most interestingly, an application entitled "game device" and filed in September of this year reveals a game content screen that is much more focused on community interaction and appears to be much more dynamic that the current screen of the PS3.

 

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Top Comments
  • 36 Hide
    vrumor , December 30, 2012 1:03 PM
    drwho1consoles should be open to the owner to upgrade (add RAM, switch Graphics, etc...)without loosing your warranty nor "loosing your "privileges" as a console owner"


    And then youd have a PC. Great idea. /s
  • 23 Hide
    whyso , December 30, 2012 12:18 PM
    How is this different from Nvidia Optimus?
  • 22 Hide
    kellybean , December 30, 2012 12:06 PM
    Would be nice on the electric bill. Use some low priced GPU to play back movies and such and only kick on the big one for heavy games.
Other Comments
    Display all 61 comments.
  • 21 Hide
    DjEaZy , December 30, 2012 12:06 PM
    ... APU 4TW!!!
  • 22 Hide
    kellybean , December 30, 2012 12:06 PM
    Would be nice on the electric bill. Use some low priced GPU to play back movies and such and only kick on the big one for heavy games.
  • 23 Hide
    whyso , December 30, 2012 12:18 PM
    How is this different from Nvidia Optimus?
  • 8 Hide
    m32 , December 30, 2012 12:26 PM
    If only they could wait for the AMD APUs that could be teamed up with the 8000(m?) series. I'm not saying "This is the best!," but since it is rumored to be an APU, it might be the best we can hope for.
  • -7 Hide
    Anonymous , December 30, 2012 12:56 PM
    @m32 how much do you want to pay ?
    and how should a console get an apu series wich isnt even out yet?
  • 36 Hide
    vrumor , December 30, 2012 1:03 PM
    drwho1consoles should be open to the owner to upgrade (add RAM, switch Graphics, etc...)without loosing your warranty nor "loosing your "privileges" as a console owner"


    And then youd have a PC. Great idea. /s
  • -7 Hide
    freggo , December 30, 2012 1:16 PM
    Have bin suggesting that for years. Use a low and graphics chip for 'normal' work. Desktop, Word processing, spread sheets etc. 90% of most work loads.
    Power up the high end GPU when required. selected programs could on start up for examply send a system request for the GPU.

    It is silly to have 50W of power wasted on "stand by" of a high powered GPU.
  • 10 Hide
    alextheblue , December 30, 2012 1:39 PM
    freggoHave bin suggesting that for years. Use a low and graphics chip for 'normal' work. Desktop, Word processing, spread sheets etc. 90% of most work loads.Power up the high end GPU when required. selected programs could on start up for examply send a system request for the GPU.It is silly to have 50W of power wasted on "stand by" of a high powered GPU.
    To be fair modern GPUs, even discrete desktop models, have very low idle power consumption. GCN in particular does very well.
    KelvinTyMy god... Even current gen trinity couldn't handle BF3 at 1080p... because of the weak CPU, how is it even possible to even more graphics intensive games?
    You're contradicting yourself a bit. If it was just graphics it would be stressing the GPU side heavily. This console will have discrete graphics too. BF3 has lots of other stuff going on, especially in multiplayer, that tax the CPU side. But "more graphics intensive games" are certainly possible on Trinity, especially given that it is a closed box and there's lots of room for optimizations (including but not limited to using the new instructions BD/PD introduced, and optimized load balancing on the GPUs for best-case multi-GPU scaling). We also don't know final core count, clocks, any other chips onboard to offload to (physics, AI), etc.
  • 8 Hide
    Soda-88 , December 30, 2012 1:47 PM
    So Nvidia Optimus/AMD Dynamic Switchable Graphics never happened...?!?
  • 5 Hide
    shloader , December 30, 2012 2:01 PM
    Why the patent? This idea is rather obvious and discussed to its logical conclusion in the mobile computing space. So what are they patenting? The same notion in gaming consoles? Are they trying to put the remainder of the industry on notice? Do the same and we SUE! Now I'm all for the industry making this switch. This could enable faster console upgrades and more simple backward compatibility for succeding consoles but if they try to flex this patent in court it'll fall on its face.

    @KelvinTy. AMD always said the architecture is scailable outside the PC space. If the die were expanded, trade a processing core for more GPU space, and change the memory controller to a 256bit GDDR5 then you'd have something much more competent. Still wouldn't quite displace a good dedicated GPU.
  • -7 Hide
    jay_nar2012 , December 30, 2012 2:11 PM
    What was the point of the PS3 slim slim or superslim or whatever the thing is called?
  • 15 Hide
    xendrome , December 30, 2012 2:20 PM
    chroniumWhere does it say that it is any different?


    The context of the question is posing the question that the Nvidia Optimus already exist and wasn't mentioned in the patent. So how is it different... don't be a smart a**
  • -7 Hide
    CheesyHotDogPuff , December 30, 2012 3:01 PM
    I wonder how much a gpu upgrade would cost.... $200 *cough *cough
  • 20 Hide
    InvalidError , December 30, 2012 3:14 PM
    drwho1consoles should be open to the owner to upgrade

    Consoles are managing to maintain their market relevance because consumers and developers can rely on the fact that every console of a particular model family will be almost exactly the same as any other console from the same family so developers only have one general platform to worry testing, debugging and optimizing for and consumers can enjoy very predictable and repeatable performance no matter which variant of a particular console they pick.

    Without all the component access and modularity thanks to everything being integrated into the motherboard, consoles can achieve better performance at better efficiency in much smaller form factors and lower cost than conventional PCs can, which are all very much welcome in the consumer electronics market.

    If you take most of those away, you end up with devices mechanically and electrically as complex and as expensive as PCs with none of consoles' benefits for developers and consumers alike.
  • 0 Hide
    Deadboy90 , December 30, 2012 3:36 PM
    Will it be able to do the hybrid crossfire that we see with the Llano APU and a 6670 for better performance? But, you know with Trinity.
  • 2 Hide
    InvalidError , December 30, 2012 4:03 PM
    Deadboy90Will it be able to do the hybrid crossfire that we see with the Llano APU and a 6670 for better performance? But, you know with Trinity.

    While it should be technically possible, it would not be practical.

    Since SLI/CFX work by issuing frames to the next GPU available, if one GPU is substantially faster than the other(s), frames get finished out-of-order and the IGP/slower-GPU's tardy frames simply get dropped which may make the final rendered video stuttery/choppy.

    Pairing an IGP with a much faster GPU simply does not work for realtime rendering.
  • -6 Hide
    chronium , December 30, 2012 4:14 PM
    xendromeThe context of the question is posing the question that the Nvidia Optimus already exist and wasn't mentioned in the patent. So how is it different... don't be a smart a**


    You're the one to talk. If he was seriously asking that then he's on the wrong website because the only way to answer that is by comparing patents vague descriptions.
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