Bear with us here, we’re about to get technical and dive down a deep rabbit hole that might hint at what Sony’s working with for their next-gen architecture. As originally discovered by Phoronix, Simon Pilgrim, a principal programmer at Sony, has been “working on AMD Ryzen LLVM compiler improvements.” If that doesn’t make a lot of sense to you, it basically means that Sony has someone actively working on improvements and hardware support for CPU technology that isn’t currently available in any PlayStation products. Apparently Pilgrim has entered numerous improvements, cleanups, and changes to the znver1 code within LLVM, which points to this being much more than a one-off bit of code work.
Sony is already working with AMD and has been for years. The PS4 uses a modified AMD Jaguar CPU. It’s not too far fetched to think they might transition to another CPU within the AMD family for the next iteration of the PlayStation, and Pilgrim’s work improving the Ryzen CPU shows that Sony has an investment in this technology. With this evidence in hand, Ryzen could be the basis for the PlayStation 5, or whatever Sony ends up calling their next console.
Digital Foundry points out that Pilgrim is currently working with the first generation of Ryzen core, even though the estimated 2020 release that most people estimate as the next PlayStation release would line up better with the second generation of Ryzen tech. CPU manufacturers often focus on desktop and server variants of the technology first, so even if the second generation release around this time, modified architecture for consoles likely wouldn’t be available until a year or two after. This is why many consoles are considered underpowered at the time of their release in comparison to similar PC counterparts.
Furthermore, Digital Foundry talks about the benefits of Sony using the AMD Ryzen tech as they move into the next generation of hardware. “The ability to combine Ryzen x86 CPU architecture and Radeon graphics into a single chip (and to license both key components from a single vendor) has great advantages in terms of economy, ease of development and cross-platform compatibility.” If Sony wants to sell the PlayStation 5 at an affordable price, making economical moves like this one is critical.
Sony responded to this news when questioned by saying that they don’t comment on rumors or speculation. While there’s no doubt that Pilgrim has indeed been working on a compiler and improvements for the AMD Ryzen tech, we still can’t quite be sure what that work is for. Is this our first hint at what will be under the hood of the PlayStation 5? Will we see a PS5 AMD Ryzen core, or some custom version of it for Sony’s upcoming console?
It was recently revealed that Sony considers the PS4 to be entering the final phase of its life cycle. What exactly this means for timing is up in the air. Despite the comments having a sense of impending doom to them for the PS4, it was also pointed out that we likely wouldn’t see any big shifts for the company until March 2021. This was an investor meeting, and March 2021 is the end of the fiscal year 2020, which means we’ve got a pretty good window of when we might expect a PlayStation 5 to release. If that’s the case, we’re probably still about two years away from even hearing anything official about it.
[Source: Digital Foundry]