Mark Cerny is the lead architect of the PlayStation 4. It was also later revealed that he was also the lead architect of the PlayStation Vita or PS Vita. Mark Cerny has been termed as the saviour of the PlayStation brand with his work on the most hyped and anticipated next-generation console, all while touting the most powerful hardware among consoles and also retaining a cheaper price. Guess big surprises do come in small packages.
In an interview with Digital Trends, Mark Cerny revealed some interesting information about the hardware of the PlayStation 4 as well the launch date. Cerny stated that the team had six years to develop the hardware whereas it only takes four years to do the actual engineering. In the two year planning cycle to plan what to do with the PlayStation 4, the team went with AMD’s technology for the CPU and GPU and later on “aggressively” enhance the GPU for a long -term growth.
We had six years to make the hardware, and it only takes about four years to do the actual engineering, so we had two years to figure out what we wanted to make the PlayStation 4. And we looked at a huge variety of technologies, including some that were just coming into possibility. In the end we decided that we could hit sort of a sweet spot by working with AMD’s PC technology, the CPU and GPU, and then aggressively enhancing the GPU for that long-term growth.
On a question if the release date was already planned out and that the development on the PlayStation 4 started keeping that in mind or vice versa, Cerny stated that the team was targeting the Holiday 2013 for several years. He said that the hardware is a variable in the planned release date. If anything, no matter how minor, goes wrong in the main custom chip, it would take around six months to find and fix it and that will throw the planned release date off course.
We’d been targeting Holiday 2013 for many years, but with hardware, you never quite know if you’re going to be able to reach the date. If you screw up something in your main custom chip, you could easily find that it takes six months to fix. And then you end up out of your targeted launch year. But none of that happened, so we’re releasing.
When asked about if the idea of post-updates and patches have influenced the PlayStation 4’s design in someway that many of the features will be patched in later on, Cerny said that the hardware team and software team both have different approaches on the matter. For the software team, they shoved in as many features as they could before the PlayStation 4 could be ‘mass dropped’. Some of those features work and some don’t and that’s okay as all the features will work later on when the updates and patches for the system release in time.
The hardware team has to think about risks and that they have a ‘one shot’ chance. If anything goes south, it is six months more on the development time to try to find and fix it. Cerny then continued to given an example of their competitors famous hardware failure, the Red Ring of Death, that it was around $2 billion of public cost to address the issue. So that’s why the hardware team works hard to try to avoid such mishaps from happening and always work with the risk influencing their work.
But with the hardware team it’s all about risk. You get one shot at it, and if it doesn’t work it’s potentially a six-month schedule to go fix it. So the hardware teams think about risk. Anything they talk about is “what is the risk of doing that?” Whether it be a feature set inside of the chip or the power consumption of the chip, or the like.
Just to give one story – and this is not about us – but a competitive hardware had a red ring of death… My belief is that it’s the custom chip, because it is so hot that it expands, and when it cools it contracts and it actually walks back the pins – the pins walk off the pads they are connected to after a certain number of heat cycles. And that was a $2 billion public cost to address it. And so much of what you are doing with hardware engineering is trying to avoid the risk that anything like that may happen.
PlayStation 4 has been officially launched in the North America. Although there have been reports of hardware failures such as GPU issues which overlap the UI, loud fan noises, bluray slot making weird noises when the disc is being loaded on to and perhaps many more. These issues at one point seem to be isolated issues but could be widespread. Thankfully, Sony Support is working hard with the customers to provide them with support on the issues and if possible to ship them a box so that they can ship their PlayStation 4 to be replaced with a new one.
What are your thoughts on all this? Have you received your PlayStation 4 yet? Let us know in the comments below.