A new Sony patent was registered recently that seemingly hints at hardware V-Sync coming to Sony’s next console – the PS5.
The patent filed back in late May, was approved a few days ago and is registered to Playstation’s parent company Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC.
The patent titled “VIDEO FRAME RATE COMPENSATION THROUGH ADJUSTMENT OF VERTICAL BLANKING” is quite hefty in detail so we’ll be covering the juicy parts. On closer inspection the descriptions stated heavily suggest Sony to be implementing hardware based V-Sync for the PS5.
For those not aware by the term V-Sync, it basically helps eliminate screen tearing and make games appear “smoother”. The term is short for Vertical Synchronization and should be familiar to PC gamers as its enabled through your graphics settings. Long story short the setting helps sync the game’s frames to your monitor or display’s refresh rate, like if you’re playing a 60FPS game on a 60Hz display, V-Sync helps sync those frequencies so that the game never crosses a max of 60FPS.
As far as consoles are concerned, developers just prefer to cap the game’s frame rate, which unfortunately is the not same. Uncharted 3, Overwatch, Ryse: Son of Rome are some examples of games notorious for their screen tearing.
One of the main reasons consoles haven’t properly implemented V-Sync yet is the process is very taxing on the GPU. Sony may have something up their sleeves if they’re confident enough to implement it in the Playstation 5. Some games on consoles like Street Fighter V do support V-Sync but that’s software, where the output frame is buffered until the display is ready to accept it.
What this new technique mentioned in the patent does is that it fills dropped frames with a technique called “vertical blanking”, so whenever the game drops frames, the tech fills the missing frames.
Sony seems to be implementing a “vertical blanking” technique to compensate for frame rate fluctuations as stated below:
In order to send the rendered frames to the display, the images in the frame buffer are typically scanned out line by line and transferred serially (in sequence) over some video interface to the display device. During scanout, certain “invisible ” signals are generated to govern the transfer proces, so that what is actually transferred to the display device for each frame that is output from the frame buffer, referred to herein as an “output frame,” includes not only the visible pixel values of the frame’s image, but other external signals which may be used by the display device to resolve how the received frame is displayed on the screen. This typically includes, among other things, a vertical synchronization signal that is pulsed between each scanned out frame image. The period of time between each scanned out frame image, i.e., between the last line or pixel of one frame image and the first line or pixel of the subsequent frame’s image, is known as the “vertical blanking interval.” This vertical blanking interval is generated as part of the scanout process, and this vertical synchronization pulse used for synchronization between graphics source and display.
It further states that this will allow “each image updated on the screen of the display would perfectly correspond to the source frames generated by the GPU”:
The frequency at which the vertical synchronization pulse occurs during scanout, and, as a result, the frequency at which the vertical blanking interval occurs , is traditionally fixed in relation to the refresh rate of the display device , so that each image scanned out from the frame buffer coincides with each refresh cycle of the display. If the frame rate of the original graphics content, i.e., the rate at which new source frames are drawn to the frame buffer by the GPU, is perfectly in sync with the refresh rate of the display , each new source frame drawn to the frame buffer by the GPU would correspond 1:1 to each image presented on the display device. For example, if the display device has a refresh rate of 60 Hz and the GPU were rendering new images to the frame buffer at a frame rate of 60 FPS in phase with the refresh cycle of the display each image updated on the screen of the display would perfectly correspond to the source frames generated by the GPU.
After reading the patent it seems that the technique is a combination of hardware and software to help screen tearing and smooth out the frame rate drops. Make sense, since Sony decided to patent it and all. Go ahead and read the patent and let me know what you think of it.
Sony’s PS5 is expected to be revealed next year, maybe at the Playstation Meeting in February after PSX 2018 was confirmed to be skipping the year.
Sony is also supposedly working on “upgrading” the Playstation Network in time for the PS5’s release.
What do you think of this patent? Could it really be V-Sync for consoles? Let us know in the comments.