Sony Design Doc Reveals PlayStation 4 OS Uses 3.5GB of RAM

Published 1 year ago by , Updated July 27th, 2013 at 12:25 pm,

PS4 OS RAM Allocation

Let’s talk specs. Over the course of the next few months gamers will be hearing a lot about system specs, as both Microsoft and Sony jockey for position in the next-gen console war. Whose CPU is better? Whose GPU is better? These are all questions that will presumably be answered in the coming months, albeit colored in favor of one device or the other.

To that point, we have a report from Digital Foundry that, if true, will put the PS4 on relatively equal footing with the Xbox One in terms of accessible RAM. According to the report, 3.5 GB of the PS4’s 8GB of RAM is reserved specifically for the OS, while the remaining 4.5GB is allocated for gaming.

Prior to DF‘s report, we had been hearing that the PS4 used about 512MB of RAM (note: the PS3 had a total of 512MB of RAM) for system software, but apparently that is not the case. The available RAM for developers doesn’t cap at 4.5GB, though, as a recent PS4 design document suggests developers might have access to an additional 1GB of RAM if the OS will allow it. This is highlighted in PS4 dev kits by two modes, one labeled “normal” and one labeled “large.” However, the large parameters are suggested, at least right now, for applications not games.

As most know, both the Xbox One and PS4 boast a very admirable 8GB of RAM, with the one difference being that the Sony‘s console features faster and more graphics friendly GDDR5 RAM while the Xbox One features the traditional DDR3. However, RAM types aside, this recent revelation might change gamers’ perception of the two consoles.

Sony Increases PS4 Sales Projections

The Xbox One, for example, is said to reserve about 3GB of RAM specifically for game developers, with the remaining 5GB or so allocated for streaming services, background downloads, multitasking, etc. Sony’s 3.5GB for the OS is presumably reserved for similar features, like game streaming and multitasking.

While comparisons of price and peripherals are all worthy topics regarding the Xbox One and PS4, how each consoles uses RAM will ultimately determine the potential quality of games. Sony allocating 3.5GB of RAM for the PS4’s OS isn’t anything to be concerned about at this point, though, as the console’s design likely hasn’t been finalized, and we’ve yet to get our hands on retail copies of the console.

Only then will we be able to determine how much of a difference there is between the Xbox One and PS4, and whether or not one or two extra gigabytes will put one console ahead of the other.

What do you make of the PS4’s OS requiring 3.5GB of RAM? Does this news impact your enthusiasm for the console?

The PS4 will be available this Holiday for $399.

Source: Digital Foundry

TAGS: PS4, Sony

  • 1wildgamerchild

    The X1’s hypervisor, 1 of the 3 operating systems, is allowed to shutdown or suspend itself and give games more gigs of RAM if necessary. X1 games are given at least a dedicated 5 gigs of RAM, but if developers really want to use up 7 gigs they can but the X1 just won’t allow you to use the snap feature at the same time. So you won’t be able to watch tv, or Skype at the same time while playing a game that uses 7 gigs which is fine with me. But both the PS4 and X1 won’t see too many games going over 5 gigs anyway.

    More about the hypervisor

    or watch video and watch this guy explain

    • Varteras

      People are making way too much of a fuss over this. By the time console games need 5 gigs of RAM this new generation will likely be entering its twilight years. That’s even assuming that will happen at all before the generation is over. Look at games like Halo 4 and The Last of Us. Those great games are running on consoles that only have half a gig of RAM in total. We’re talking about systems that have 10 times that amount for just games alone and will likely afford more if needed.

      Sony has yet to officially say anything about RAM allocation though they have come out and said that Eurogamer had its information on the Flexible Memory wrong. That whatever amount of RAM Sony decides to make flexible, it will belong to the game. What I take this to mean is that the reverse of what Eurogamer said is true. That the OS will have access to that memory but will have to give it up if the game demands it.

      There have been some unconfirmed sources saying that 4.5 gigs are dedicated to games, 1.5 gigs dedicated to the OS, and the other 2 gigs are flexible with Sony wanting one gig to be aimed more towards the OS and the other gig for games. Again though, it needs to be stressed that this isn’t a big deal. Both systems are just fine at around 5 gigs of RAM for gaming. Power is not going to be what defines this generation. Power has never actually been what defined a generation. Both PlayStation and PlayStation 2 smoked the competition while being weak compared to them. The Wii outsold its competition solidly while definitely being underpowered by comparison.

      The PlayStation 4 is the more poweful console overall but the power differences under the hood between the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will only truly be noticeable years down the road and even then it won’t be enough to be a selling point for most. The closer you come to photorealism the more difficult it becomes to see improvements. So, in all honesty, people should be focusing less on specs between these two and more on games, services, features, and the atmosphere the consoles create. These will always be more important than raw horsepower as has been proven for the last three generations at least.

  • Josh Calkins

    I miss the old days, when one could simply assume that the 16 bit machine out powered the 8, and the 64 would clearly be better than 32. Now I have no simple way to balance the competitor specs. I will start with Xbox because of the controller, the exclusive franchises and the interface potential, but someone else will choose PS4 for the same reasons! Best case scenario is strong competition though, so we should all hope that both systems thrive. Too bad that notion can’t penetrate fanboy logic. I was maybe 12 when I realized I could actually like Nintendo AND Sega without prejudice. Hopefully these tech discussions will encourage more thoughtful distinctions and fewer outright dismissals.

  • tatto

    sony fanboys must be crawling into the shadows about now

    • Smikal

      Did you read the article? Sony has 4.5g available to designers compared to MS 3g.

      Math, dude. Math.

      • Darkowl

        This article got them mix up the xbox1 actually allows 5gb for games and you can just google that if you want to.

        • Knock Knock

          Maybe you should do some research because I have. Every article, like this screenrant one here, has reported the same specs for the PS4. So either you are misreading something or you are a xbox fan boy yourself.

          • Knock Knock


        • XP

          X1 OS: 3GB
          – Unknown GB for Gaming OS –(Guess maybe 1-2GB)
          – Unknown GB for Windows OS—————-^
          – Hypervisor
          Leftover: 5GB for game/app developers
          +Unknown GB from Hypervisor
          (Hypervisor shuts off the other OS not necessary for gaming to
          leave more memory for games
          Downside: No multitasking like apps/videos while playing a game)
          Total Memory available for gaming: 5GB – 7GB(depending on size of Gaming OS)

          PS4 OS: 3.5GB
          – 2.5 GB for OS
          – 1 GB SHARED memory (Used by both OS and game)

          Leftover: 4.5GB for game/app developers
          +512MB-1GB from Shared memory
          (Shared memory used for games not confirmed yet)
          Total Memory available for gaming: 4.5GB – 5.5GB(depending on size of Shared Memory)

          The extra memory will most likely be used for exclusives. Most developer will only be using 4.5GB because they will most likly be developing for both systems. BTW most of the games that are gonna come out won’t use up to 4.5GB because current consoles use only 256MB for games. Games coming out this year will most likely be only using 256mb-2GB but it will increase as the developers get more used to the systems.

          • XP

            ^PS 4 shared memory confirmed at 1GB for gaming. didn’t notice earlier comment.

  • COREY_1993

    from what i hear its a rumor. and its 4.5g for games with a 1g or either os or games so its really 5.5g ram.
    its not confirmed so you gotta wait.

    still does not effect my decision. i know what im getting.

  • ATG

    I’m still getting PS4 first. With Microsoft changing so many policies it does seem more appealing but they just didn’t seem prepared. So it’s PS4 this year or early 2014. And X1 MAYBE 4-5 years down the line.

    Half a gig of RAM won’t make much of a difference, this rumor suggests X1 has 512 MB dedicated to gaming over the PS4. It’s crazy to think that’s all the PS3 had.

    • Dovahkiin

      And about all that the 360 has right?

    • Iceberg082002

      You know sony was gonna have the same policies but changed them when Microsoft got their backlash

      • COREY_1993

        kinda p***ed off hearing this. sony didnt do it. microsoft did, there a massive difference. if sony did it you think microsoft would change the policies? no they would not. they knew from last year when it was rumored that no one was happy about it. they still went ahead.

        sony is doing pretty well if people are s***ing on them for doing something hey didnt do.

  • CanDo

    UPDATE #2: Sony has issued a statement:

    We would like to clear up a misunderstanding regarding our “direct” and “flexible” memory systems. The article states that “flexible” memory is borrowed from the OS, and must be returned when requested – that’s not actually the case.

    The actual true distinction is that:

    “Direct Memory” is memory allocated under the traditional video game model, so the game controls all aspects of its allocation
    “Flexible Memory” is memory managed by the PS4 OS on the game’s behalf, and allows games to use some very nice FreeBSD virtual memory functionality. However this memory is 100 per cent the game’s memory, and is never used by the OS, and as it is the game’s memory it should be easy for every developer to use it.
    We have no comment to make on the amount of memory reserved by the system or what it is used for.

    -eurogamer I beleive their source is Digital foundry. Im sorry if this violates any post rule.

  • Mike

    Who really cares? Visually the games for xb1 and ps4 are going to be indistinguishable from each other unless you look at side by side comparisons, and nobody plays like that. Games for each console will be developed in tandem therefore almost identical. Just like current gen. All this info is good for is fanboys debating over meaningless numbers like trump cards.

    • Edwards rocky

      Pretty much summed up what I was think, just fuel for the already stupid fire.

  • Vampet

    Disappointing to say the least. However, the PS4 is still in the cards for me this Holiday season. I might get an Xbox One about a year or two after release for some exclusives.

  • Carrot

    I think the specs should not be an issue on the next gen platforms they are both powerful consoles and i think it will take some time before developers can use the full potential of both X1 and PS4.

  • Ken J

    Look guys, there is a way to tell what will have the best graphics. It’s a little complicated so I’ll try to break it down. It’s not as simple as which will have more memory. You have to consider many other factors. Also keep in mind that some games will not use all of the memory of either one. But let’s break it down, we know PS4 will use DDR5 memory, which is the preferred memory for graphics processing, but now we know it’ll only have 4.5GB available for it. The X1 will have 5GB available for games but will be DDR3 instead of DDR5. You then have to consider things like background processes and what-not. The Xbox will be using less for its OS which might imply that it’ll do fewer background processes than the PS4. It’s also suggested the X1 will be able to actively reallocate memory to gaming if it needs be. So this suggests it can shut down a lot of its background processes. Now the CPU isn’t used much for graphics, I get this, but it still would play a role. Like the saying goes, the chain is only as strong as its weakest link. And we have to consider if the multiple cores in their CPU’s are equal power or if they have low power cores for low-level functions and high powered cores for the games, etc. So taken all of this into consideration, the PS4’s 3.5GB OS usage vs the X1’s 3GB, the PS4’s DDR5 vs X1’s DDR3, CPU usage and number of cores, it is safe to say that the graphics will look best on the PC.

    You’re welcome. Glad to be of help. :-)

    • jago

      lol, I KNEW you were headed there, good one.

      • Ken J


        What???? Noooo, what do you mean? I’m a huge console supporter!!! 😉

    • Varteras


      I was reading this the whole time going, “Can’t wait for the PC punchline”.

      • Ken J

        Yah, I should have posted it under a different name. 😀

  • Josh Calkins

    Disclaimer: I don’t know what all this stuff means, and have a suspicion that a lot of it means very little… That being said, the different kinds of DDR whatever are evidently unequal, and the cloud processing resource that Microsoft is discussing sounds like another major factor in what the games can do. Even if the cloud isn’t a great place to get graphics power, it can free up more of the system perhaps. At this point it feels like the more specific the comparisons get the less they may actually matter in the final product. Are gamers really going to be looking at a game in a few years and saying “this is because of DDR5″ ? There were damn few PS3 games that were potentially unportable to Xbox, so I doubt that a very clear picture of gaming future is crystallizing just yet. I hope both systems are amazing, and anyone who loves games should hope that too.

  • Helena ALLEN

    I would like to reserve the PlayStation 4 if you have any