PlayStation 4 Packs Weak Single-Threaded AMD APU, Powerful Multi-Threaded Performance

Says PlanetSide 2 Dev

The developers of PlanetSide 2, a Sony Online Entertainment game title that will launch as a free-to-play title on the PlayStation 4 and is already up and running on the PC, have spoken out about their working experience with AMD's APU, more specifically, its CPU. The AMD APU inside the PlayStation 4 packs GCN class graphics hardware, which is great, but the CPU ain't anywhere near those standards. Based on the low-power Jaguar architecture, the AMD CPUs in the next-generation console from Sony is weak in single-threaded performance.

Multi-threaded performance is where the CPU truly shines, thanks to 8 CPU cores available to developers (plenty of resources to tap). Sadly, the game engine that runs PlanetSide 2 isn't well optimized for multi-threaded operation. As a result, developers are having a hard time optimizing the code to have it up and running smoothly on the PS4. Thankfully, once the engine is capable of splitting tasks into multiple threads instead of fewer, more resource hungry threads, the game should run like a breeze.

Here's what the developers have to say about the AMD APU:

We have the exact same kind of Achilles' heel on the PC too. People who have AMD chips have a disadvantage, because a single core on an AMD chip doesn't really have as much horsepower and they really require you to kind of spread the load out across multiple cores to be able to take full advantage of the AMD processors.

Our engine sucks at that right now. We are multi-threaded, but the primary gameplay thread is very expensive. The biggest piece of engineering work that they're doing right now, and it's an enormous effort, is to go back through the engine and re-optimize it to be really, truly multi-threaded and break the gameplay thread up. That's a very challenging thing to do because we're doing a lot of stuff - tracking all these different players, all of their movements, all the projectiles, all the physics they're doing.

It's very challenging to split those really closely connected pieces of functionality across in multiple threads. So it's a big engineering task for them to do, but thankfully once they do it, AMD players who've been having sub-par performance on the PC will suddenly get a massive boost - just because of being able to take the engine and re-implement it as multi-threaded.

I'm very excited about that because I have a lot of friends, lots of people who are more budget minded, going for AMD processors because nine times out of ten they give a lot of bang for the buck. Where it really breaks down is on games with one really big thread. PlanetSide's probably a prime example of that.