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Analysis Hardware Why did Sony stay with 36CUs for the PS5?

Oct 7, 2019
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Those tests were for PC games which were designed to run on a wide range of hardware. The only thing you can say about that test is when a PC game is designed to run on a wide range of GPU hardware, more CUs tend to increase performance more than frequency. It says absolutely nothing about console games coded close to the metal and designed to specifically make use of the PS5's faster clocks where all aspects of the GPU are sped up.

In the PC test, performance was likely left on the table in higher frequency GPUs simply because the graphics algorithms were designed to scale better with more CUs since that's the biggest differentiator in PC GPU capabilities.
The whole IO of the PS5 will benefit from the increased frequency as well, no? It's not just about the GPU?
 
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Stilton Disco

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Once again, I find the difference in approach Sony and MS have taken this gen fascinating.

MS have gone with the classic PC approach. Split RAM, more of everything, and brute forcing their way through with an absurd amount of power that we know for a fact should deliver amazing results.

Sony meanwhile have taken a half step back from the PS4's more PC like architecture and chosen their design for performance and ease of development. On paper, it's baffling and underpowered, and may well cost them for PC based multiplatform games.

But then the more you learn about why they made these weird choices, the more the lack of conventional thinking makes sense, and even has the potential to result in better, more unique games than even the current top of the line gaming PC's can deliver.
 

LED Guy?

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Well, it’s the overall budget and what price they’re targeting is the more important question.

They saw that:

- A 16 GB GDDR6 RAM.
- A blindingly fast SSD with 5.5 GB/s.
- A 36 RDNA 2 CUs clocked at 2.23 GHz resulting in a 10.3 TFLOPs GPU.
- I/O Co-processors, Decompression block & other hardware accelerators.
- An 8 Core 16 Threads Ryzen 2 CPU clocked at 3.5 GHz.

All these specs are what will power a full Next-generation console and that this is what will achieve next-generation gaming experiences, they just happened to choose the 36 CUs option with a way faster SSD than XSX.

That goes to XSX as well, Microsoft prioritized more GPU power while having less than half of PS5’s SSD speed.

It’s all about allocation of budget & cost in the end, both consoles are beasts and may cost around the same in manufacturing budget.
 
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geordiemp

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I think we were all surprised that Sony stuck with the same amount of compute units with the PS5 as they did with the PS4 Pro.
It has been said that it was to help with back compate for PS4 games, but I'm not 100% sold on that alone.
I'm not a dev so could there be other reasons such as making it easier to develop for by keeping the same amount of Cu's?
Like how much change would you have to do to dev tools by increasing the amount of Cu's?
Would keeping the same 36CUs mean their internal studios engines would be quicker to adapt to the PS5?

Or was it simply that like with the PS4 -> Pro that they would have needed to have either 36 Cu's on a butterfly GPU with 72CUs and as 72 was unfiesable it had to be 36?

Because Sony use direct apis which give more performance but its harder for BC. Also Cerny wanted faster clocks.

MS on Xbox (also on windows) use abstraction layers so can run on multiple hardware, but it costs performance

Hence XSX has more TF, Ps5 has faster clocks, and the big one, ps5 has more performant apis.

If you want to question this, HZD used GPGPU procedural generation of environment dedicated to ps4 and ps4pro. On DX12 it performed like shit.

What do you prefer, next gen games performing better, or last gen games easier to run in BC mode.

There is an old Eurogamer article on GNx vs Dx11, its not pretty.

The question is, how much performance does Xbox loose with FAT abstract apis that go through hoops to do the job.
 
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Panajev2001a

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From what I recall and someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think he said they needed to stay at 36CU in order to be able to have BC with PS4 (PS4 Pro CU count is also at 36 while base PS4 CU count is at half that at 18) Something about running at same frequencies. Not sure.

He never said that, urban myth hehe 😉.
 

M1chl

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Once again, I find the difference in approach Sony and MS have taken this gen fascinating.

MS have gone with the classic PC approach. Split RAM, more of everything, and brute forcing their way through with an absurd amount of power that we know for a fact should deliver amazing results.

Sony meanwhile have taken a half step back from the PS4's more PC like architecture and chosen their design for performance and ease of development. On paper, it's baffling and underpowered, and may well cost them for PC based multiplatform games.

But then the more you learn about why they made these weird choices, the more the lack of conventional thinking makes sense, and even has the potential to result in better, more unique games than even the current top of the line gaming PC's can deliver.
Based on what is this assumption held, because as far as "brute forcing", MS showed so far more of the optimalisations. Even on SSD, it's slower yes, but aside from that I can't see anything what they brute force from HW/Direct X perspective
 

geordiemp

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Based on what is this assumption held, because as far as "brute forcing", MS showed so far more of the optimalisations. Even on SSD, it's slower yes, but aside from that I can't see anything what they brute force from HW/Direct X perspective

Horizon zero dawn used GPGPU procedural generation of foilage and environment using slim APIs and to the point. How does HZD do that performance on a taoster CPU and low TF ?

Runs great on big fat abstract DX12 I hear.
 

thelastword

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Because higher clocks was more important to them and they felt it benefitted devs much more over more CU's. Also, I doubt MS will be able to put 52+52 CU's on a Series XX, it would draw too much power and clocks would not be substantial. Sony on the other hand can put 36 CU's per chiplet for PS5 PRO and even up the clock speed as some of these chips would be on 5nm-3nm by then......You could see that Sony favored a faster GPU vs a Larger GPU, they favored clocks because they have the geometry engine which is rumored to debut in RDNA 3. Also it should be noted that faster clocks has several benefits for many games including Raytracing....
 

JonnyMP3

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Horizon zero dawn used GPGPU procedural generation of foilage and environment using slim APIs and to the point. How does HZD do that performance on a taoster CPU and low TF ?

Runs great on big fat abstract DX12 I hear.
Makes sense that a game developed on a multicore CPU works better on DX12 than DX11 which was still focused on single Core usage. DX12 was designed around today's mutlticores and threads.
 

longdi

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Imo Mark chose to stick with what brought them success.
cheaper lower power midrange die (36CU), to hit that $399 price tag, and work on cost reducing PS5 SSD storage.
From Epic china team, Sony using 12 channels SSD controller helps with keeping costs lower.

I think Series X going with the higher-end big die, took Mark by surprise. Hence the PS5 clocks went from 2Ghz target to 2.23Ghz.
 
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geordiemp

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Makes sense that a game developed on a multicore CPU works better on DX12 than DX11 which was still focused on single Core usage. DX12 was designed around today's mutlticores and threads.

HZD used GPGPU for the procedural, has nothing to do with CPU. Think Dreams.

Time stamped


This is why direct apis and coding to dedicated hardware can perform better. Note Cerny says ps5 has procedural new functions included in new Ps5 Geometry engine.

BE AFRAID OF SONY FIRST PARTY NEXT GEN
 
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JonnyMP3

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HZD used GPGPU for the procedural, has nothing to do with CPU. Think Dreams.

Time stamped


This is why direct apis and coding to dedicated hardware can perform better. Note Cerny says ps5 has procedural new functions included in new Ps5 Geometry engine.

BE AFRAID OF SONY FIRST PARTY NEXT GEN
I was referring to the runs great in DX12 part.

Edit: I've just realised unless you meant that as a joke. As I'm avoiding the HZD PC graphics drama.
 
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M1chl

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Horizon zero dawn used GPGPU procedural generation of foilage and environment using slim APIs and to the point. How does HZD do that performance on a taoster CPU and low TF ?

Runs great on big fat abstract DX12 I hear.
Well, this does not say anything about next-gen. And sure this gen PS4 had more ACE units. I did not say it doesn't. Also we don't get many dev blogs, so we don't know how each developer optimize games engine(s). Suffice to say HZD done a lot smart techniques. As far as I know inFamous: Second Son used ACE unit for particle effects.
 

Aceofspades

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In my opinion there is to little technical knowledge in this thread to explain it. So much crap is posted or half of the facts.

OP himself stated that he doesn't believe Sony's own 50 minutes Road to PS5 presentation, yet he is seeking answers from random forum posters 🤣

to Xplainin Xplainin Discord is that way bro -------->
 
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JonnyMP3

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OP himself stated that he doesn't believe Sony's own 50 minutes Road to PS5 presentation, yet he is seeking answers from random forum posters 🤣
Yeah, considering Mark Cerny, the architect of the PS5, explains the whole reasoning behind the design to create a balanced machine within the BOM and has explained that they cut the GPU down to 36CUs and then spent the money on customising the rest of the system with things that have been announced and probably more that haven't been announced...
Simple answer is Sony went Fast and not Wide.
 

MH3M3D

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Much higher yields, thus cheaper to make. Savings passed on to consumer or invested in new games. Features are more important than raw power, being an RDNA2 part I'm guessing Sony thought it has all the features it needed with just enough power to run games at the quality they were aiming for.
 
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oldergamer

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that's not true, PS4 games will be able to use the full speed of the hardware. base PS4 games with no Pro patch will most likely only be able to use half of the CUs tho, but at full clock speeds. Sony said that they work towards most PS4 games being able to run in boost mode (high clocks)

the difference here is that Xbox One games will run using the full hardware of the Series X, not only the increased clock speeds.
I dont think that is correct as ps4 games that were not patched for ps4 pro did not make use of the added performance of the system.
 

ghairat

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Just watch the video again. He mentioned that it is not efficient or "makes no sense" to have lots of CUs where some of them might not even be used. The CU in PS5 is not the same as the PS4 or the PS4 PRO. The gist is, it's all about the game developers and their engines.
 

thelastword

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They had no choice. Sony is locked into some choices and haven't developed proper hardware abstraction for the OS and development tools. Its going to affect the CU count going forward.

This is the reason they need a "ps4 mode" where you don't get a benefit of increased speed with the new hardware. Xbox doesn't have this problem based on the way the software is structured. This is why xbox is able to provide visual upgrades for older games that were not developed for newer hardware.
I will bookmark this quote when PS5 BC is shown........Do you even know that there was a patent long ago that increases resolution to older library PS games, replaces the texture assets to more improved and higher resolution ones and implements trophies as per event and timelines? Do you even know how Parappa Remastered and some other games were achieved.


"Would you believe that the PlayStation 4 remaster of Parappa the Rapper is actually the PSP version running under emulation? That's the remarkable claim put forward by hackers using compromised PlayStation 4s to examine game code, first revealed by 'KiiWii' on the GBATemp forum (with a tip of the hat to Ars Technica for its write-up of the story so far). The actual remastering - such as it is - appears to come in the form of a high resolution texture pack that swaps out the original PSP assets for renditions more becoming of a current-gen system.

The evidence here is compelling, with several hackers providing proof of a small number of other PSP titles running on PlayStation 4 using the same emulation wrapper. Essentially, within the PS4 package, a configuration file points to a PSP UMD disc image, which - in the case of Parappa the Rapper - apparently has the same MD5 hash as the original PSP game, confirming that it's original, untouched code. The configuration file itself suggests that Parappa is running under an all-purpose emulator, with a number of options including the ability to choose between multi-sampling and super-sampling anti-aliasing, plus a toggle on the L3 button to swap between original textures and any remastered replacements.

Further research from hackers has led to a small number of other PSP games running on PS4, apparently confirming that it is a general emulator working behind the scenes here, as opposed to any code bespoke to Parappa only. Compatibility does seem to be highly limited at the moment though. The implication is that further PSP titles released on PS4, such as Loco Roco and Patapon, may also be using the same technique, as injecting the original PSP code for those games into the emulator seems to work fine. Since the original Parappa revelation, 'injector' tools have been released that swap out the Parappa UMD image for one of the user's choosing, with the resultant files only able to run on compromised PlayStation 4 consoles."

https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2018-parappa-remastered-is-the-psp-game-emulated


Original article
https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2018...l-usable-psp-emulator-hidden-in-ps4s-parappa/

Source

https://gbatemp.net/threads/wip-psp-injection.503103/


So yes, Sony has been working with several emulators for years now......

The patent for emulation remastering.
https://patents.google.com/patent/US20180140954A1/en

The patent for putting trophies on older PS titles...
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2013/0073551.html

So PS can use these for BC if they want to. It should have improved even more now and PS5 architecture should run these games like a dream with no loadtimes whatsoever at maybe 4k 60FPS on everything with AA, improved textures, trophy injection etc......The only question is, that this took a lot of work and man hours to get there. So will Sony offer the emulator for sale on the store if people want to get improved versions of their PS1, PS2, PSP titles?
 

sircaw

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A local pond.
The truth is, sony does not need the "We have the world's most powerful console " to sell their system.

The only reason Microsoft went with those amounts of CU's was for marketing purposes, nothing else. They needed something that was easy for the general consumer to recognize and sway their opinion when buying something.
Hey look at us, we have the most powerful console, we must be good.

Microsoft is already in trouble in this next generation in the games department, imagine if they did not have that catchy title as well.

Sony went for what they needed, no less no more. They understand their audience, their price point, the value of said machine. They know in the end their quality in games is what matters most and for that, the system is more than adequate.
 

ScaryBrandon

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The truth is, sony does not need the "We have the world's most powerful console " to sell their system.

The only reason Microsoft went with those amounts of CU's was for marketing purposes, nothing else. They needed something that was easy for the general consumer to recognize and sway their opinion when buying something.
Hey look at us, we have the most powerful console, we must be good.

Microsoft is already in trouble in this next generation in the games department, imagine if they did not have that catchy title as well.

Sony went for what they needed, no less no more. They understand their audience, their price point, the value of said machine. They know in the end their quality in games is what matters most and for that, the system is more than adequate.
If you want the most powerful console you get the xbox series x pure and simple. Lots of people care about this sort of thing ( powerful cars, motorbikes, phones etc). Power is everything imo. Combine that with consumer friendly practices and the xbox game pass and it becomes impossible to justify a ps5.
 
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geordiemp

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If you want the most powerful console you get the xbox series x pure and simple. Lots of people care about this sort of thing ( powerful cars, motorbikes, phones etc). Power is everything imo. Combine that with consumer friendly practices and the xbox game pass and it becomes impossible to justify a ps5.

If you want the most powerful on paper yes, if you want the best performing console with the best performing first party games get a ps5.

Performance is everything, and large abstraction layer apis used for windows and xbox do not help the cause.

Take HZD, low level apis and procedural generation using GPGPU, plays great on a ps4pro at 60 fps.


How does it run on Dx12 ? Must be lazy devs, nothing to do with GPGPU :messenger_beaming:
 
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longdi

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If you want the most powerful console you get the xbox series x pure and simple. Lots of people care about this sort of thing ( powerful cars, motorbikes, phones etc). Power is everything imo. Combine that with consumer friendly practices and the xbox game pass and it becomes impossible to justify a ps5.
Yap! Power helped ps4 too. Every review sites recommended to buy the ps4 version of games.

Anyone who thinks PlayStation branding is so above all else, dont know how console market works.
 

sircaw

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A local pond.
If you want the most powerful console you get the xbox series x pure and simple. Lots of people care about this sort of thing ( powerful cars, motorbikes, phones etc). Power is everything imo. Combine that with consumer friendly practices and the xbox game pass and it becomes impossible to justify a ps5.

Yer, you keep holding onto that power is what matters narrative.
Come back in a year's time and show me how those consoles sales numbers are looking. If Microsoft has the balls to release them that is, doubtful

At the end of the day, its games that are important.

Power is important to a smaller number of fanatics in the console world, the rest of said population buy a console to rave about the games they just played not some silly tflop number.

If you want to rave about true power then go the pc route, that's where it counts.
 
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I'm assuming that Sony (via Cerny) had various discussions with some of the top dev teams in the world (i.e. Naughty Dog, Santa Monica, Guerrilla) to find out what they wanted to take their games to the next level. I doubt very much the first thing they said was, ",we want more CUs, Bro". They know very well what the limiting factor is for their engines and what they want to be able to achieve going forward. Obviousy all those wishes need to be factored in with price, etc. but judging a machine on its CU value is simply not understanding game dev. Ultimately the machine should be judged on the game experiences it delivers and price in which it does this.

I trust that where Sony currently is - in terms of their teams being able to envisage and drive the tech need to realise their dreams plus Cerny being the bridge between them and Sony's H/W team - we will get a console that we're all happy with. Finger crossed. 🤞
 
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Tchu-Espresso

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If you want the most powerful console you get the xbox series x pure and simple. Lots of people care about this sort of thing ( powerful cars, motorbikes, phones etc). Power is everything imo. Combine that with consumer friendly practices and the xbox game pass and it becomes impossible to justify a ps5.
This must be a joke post.
 

BattleScar

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I want to reiterate that you can't just casually redesign a chip once it's gone into production. Photomasks for N7 cost hundreds of millions of dollars a pop. A redesign with more CUs or even fewer CUs would required a brand new photomask and would cost an absolute shiteload of money.

Why did they prioritise fewer shaders? Well there is a case to be made for shader occupancy. You see the Xbox Series X has 12TF of compute assuming that every single one of its 3328 shaders (52 CU * 64 shaders) is occupied with some data to perform floating point math on.
Most games do not fully saturate wide GPUs. Take the 2070S Vs 2080 Ti
The 2070S has 2560 shaders (40SM) and the 2080 Ti has 4352 shaders (68SM). So the 2080 Ti has 70% more shaders than the 2070S. But if you look at benchmarks the 2080 Ti is maybe 30-40% faster in real games.
That's because the additional shaders are not being fully saturated.

The same thing will of course apply to RDNA2. We don't know how the RDNA2 scheduler will be able to cope with saturating a wide GPU. Maybe it's better than Turing, or maybe it's not. That all remains to be seen.

But this potential for deminishng returns on a larger GPU might be why Cerny targeted a narrower, faster architecture.
Wider, larger GPU means a bigger chip, which means fewer chips per wafer and lower average yields. So there is a cost element also at play. A smaller chip will be cheaper and can have a much higher volume.

A balance of these factors culminated in the decisions we now see.
 

llien

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For folks who do not find it beyond obvious, that it was about costs (even 36CU is a huge thing) Cerny has stated it himself.

The question is only being asked, because Microsoft went with much bigger GPU, which they did seeking revenge for current gen fiasco.

So the 2080 Ti has 70% more shaders than the 2070S. But if you look at benchmarks the 2080 Ti is maybe 30-40% faster in real games.
2080Ti also runs at lower clocks.

how much performance does Xbox loose with FAT abstract apis that go through hoops to do the job.

The APIs that have more than a couple of % impact on actual in game performance is a myth that was born when some people tried to explain why visuals look so incredible on consoles (given their hardware). And an actual answer to that question is: because assets are optimized for exactly that hardware, definitely not because there is mysterious API that is making PCs 2-3 times slower.
 
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BattleScar

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2080Ti also runs at lower clocks.
Of course.


A bigger chip with more transistors will generate much more heat per clock cycle. So you have to clock it lower.

Exactly the same situation as the XSX Vs PS5. The PS5 uses a smaller chip and runs at a higher maximum frequency than the Xbox.

Umm what??

Microprocessors are fabricated on silicon wafers, typically 300mm in diameter.
You can fit more small chips on a single wafer than big chips.
There is also the added benefit of smaller chips having inherently better yeilds than bigger chips due to the reduced likelihood of encountering a critical defect.

So yes. Smaller Sony having a smaller APU will net them a higher overall volume of usable APUs per wafer.
 
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Razvedka

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It seems to me that Sony had the following targets with their specs:

1. Targeted BoM (obviously,manufacturers always have this).
2. Fast I.O.
3. What would best compliment #2. So far this has taken the form of various baked in components to the hardware to make it as I.O. 'hands off' as possible for the Devs, plus the usual stuff one would expect to see as dedicated silicon.
4. Making sure all the above stays cool.
5. 'Decreasing time to triangle', or otherwise making hardware and software choices that makes the developer's job easier.

Given these factors, its likely they thought that going 'wider' would blow several of their objectives (#1, #4) and that going narrower and faster might actually compliment several instead (#2, #1, #5(?)). So ultimately going with 36 CUs that are clocked higher could be viewed as fitting comfortably under #3.

Of course one could also argue that #2, #3 both fit under #5. But I wanted to break it all out
 

geordiemp

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The APIs that have more than a couple of % impact on actual in game performance is a myth that was born when some people tried to explain why visuals look so incredible on consoles (given their hardware). And an actual answer to that question is: because assets are optimized for exactly that hardware, definitely not because there is mysterious API that is making PCs 2-3 times slower.

It depends on the api and what is going on. GPGPU in Horizon Zero dawn do you think that is a few % lol. It massive.

Do you think dreams would run a few % slower on a PC with same specs as a ps4 ...lol

How fast was Windows IO api when Linus attached at 30 gbs SSD ? erm,....it almost stopped :messenger_beaming:

Even if its 10 -15 % for some APIs, it all adds up. Some PCs are 400 % more powerful than ps4, so I dont see your point.

OK, I have given a few examples, your turn on why you think its only a few %.
 
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JonnyMP3

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It depends on the api and what is going on. GPGPU in Horizon Zero dawn do you think that is a few % lol. It massive.

Do you think dreams would run a few % slower on a PC with same specs as a ps4 ...lol

How fast was Windows IO api when Linus attached at 30 gbs SSD ? erm,....it almost stopped :messenger_beaming:

Even if its 10 -15 % for some APIs, it all adds up. Some PCs are 400 % more powerful than ps4, so I dont see your point.

OK, I have given a few examples, your turn on why you think its only a few %.
I find it amazing that people don't understand the simple basics of 'Direct' will always be quicker than 'Layered' no matter much the power given.
 

Dave_at_Home

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They are exactly the same size. They are both RDNA 2.
I've actually read otherwise.
If you want the most powerful console you get the xbox series x pure and simple. Lots of people care about this sort of thing ( powerful cars, motorbikes, phones etc). Power is everything imo. Combine that with consumer friendly practices and the xbox game pass and it becomes impossible to justify a ps5.

What? I love it when people say stuff like this and completely act as if Nintendo doesn't exist. They've dropped the power narrative for years and have been insanely successful. How'd they do it? Oh yeah, games.

Sony, by comparison, still pushes for power, but they have the same focus as Nintendo when it comes to their first-party titles. Microsoft has always been about power first, and to this day struggles building world class first-party studios. Listen, I've enjoyed every Xbox console that has been released, but there's a difference with Microsoft versus everyone else. Xbox, after all, was born out of Bill Gates worrying that the PS2 would be a threat to Windows. What I'm trying to say here is that the very core DNA of Xbox has never been about games, but delivering the best service platform (sound familiar). I still love Xbox, but the proof is in the pudding when it comes to their efforts on building first-party games that make people want to purchase their system. Outside of Halo, which started as a Macintosh exclusive, they've never truly gone for it on first-party. Granted, they've made interesting purchases for first-party devs this upcoming gen on Series X, so I hope great games come out of it.