There is quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding the high-end console scene, in terms of what kind of upgrade paths Microsoft and Sony might be considering. What we've seen with the current generation of consoles is a series of incremental upgrades, like the Xbox One S and Xbox One X. That said, there are plenty of rumors pointing to true successors, namely a PlayStation 5 and Xbox Scarlett. At least one developer believes these next-generation game consoles will ship with less than 16GB of RAM.
Faster hardware is a given—we fully expect next-gen consoles to come equipped with burlier graphics chips and upgraded processors, especially now that 4K resolution gaming has been thrown into the mix. But what about the RAM? Marc-André Jutras, technical director at Craddle Games, thinks Microsoft and Sony will cap things off at 8-12GB.
"I don’t think we will see 16GB of RAM, most games don’t use that much RAM anyway. I think the next generation will be between 8 and 12 [gigabytes], probably," Jutras told GamingBolt.
That's an interesting prediction, considering that 16GB is fairly normal for a high-end gaming PC these days. Considering that consoles are expected to remain relevant for several years, having only 8GB might be a bit shortsighted, if that's the direction Microsoft and Sony take.
On the flip side, Jutras is right that games aren't exactly chewing through gobs of RAM. To keep costs from ballooning, Microsoft and Sony may opt to overall focus memory allocation to having more VRAM.
"One thing that is going to change will be, you will get a lot more focus on the VRAM, which is the big bottleneck right now if you want good 4K games, because 4K frame buffer takes a lot of space," Jutras added. "So if you end up with a 4K buffer, you need four times the VRAM... I wouldn’t be surprised if the PS5 had 8GB of RAM and 8GB of VRAM."
As it stands now, the Xbox One X features 12GB of GDDR5 memory and the PlayStation 4 Pro sports 8GB of GDDR5 plus 1GB of DDR3 for non-game apps. These are shared memory spaces, though, so the total amount that gets thrown at graphics processing is less than the total amount of installed memory.
"You won’t see shared RAM space next gen like you do with the PS4. I don’t think you will see that because it’s a big bottleneck," Jutras said.
He also believes that next-gen game consoles will see a "good amount of cores" on the processor side, with something like a Ryzen 5 2600, which is a 6-core/12-thread CPU. However, rumor has it that both the PS5 and Xbox Scarlett are being designed around a 7-nanometer Zen 2 chip, of which AMD has not yet released.