PlayStation 4's lead architect Mark Cerny has explained how he sees the console's graphical capabilities evolving over the first few years of its life, admitting that though early titles "aren't going to use [the] rich feature set" offered by PS4, later titles will take advantage of the console’s GPU to offer significant improvements to world simulation.
"[In] year 1, most of the titles aren't going to use that rich feature set," Cerny told IGN. "They will be great titles, but they will be leveraging very straightforward aspects of the system such as graphics you can get from the very high bandwidth that we have.
"By year 3 or 4, I think we'll see a lot of GPGPU [General-purpose computing on graphics processing units], which is to say that the GPU will be used for a lot of things not directly tied to graphics. So physics, simulation, collision detecting or ray casting for audio or the like."
But relying on the GPU to compute other processes won't negatively impact PS4’s graphical capabilities, Cerny claims.
"Usually when I talk about this people say, 'but wait, won't that make the graphics worse?'" he continues. "Well, if you look at a frame and everything that's being done in that frame, a lot of phases within that frame – it's like 1/30 of a second – some of these phases don't really use all of the various modules within the GPU. Shadow map generation tends not to use ALU [arithmetic logic units] very much, so it's a really optimal time to be doing all of those other tasks.
"So most likely, 3 [or] 4 years in, once you've taken time to study the architecture you can improve the quality of your world’s simulation without decreasing the quality of your graphics."
PlayStation 4 narrowly beats rival Xbox One in tech specs, featuring a faster type of memory than Microsoft’s console. PS4 features 8GB of GDDR5 RAM, with Microsoft's console featuring 8GB of slower DDR3.
It also features a custom chip containing eight x86-64 cores and a 1.84 teraflops graphics processor.
The console is due to go on sale this Christmas.