Cerny: PS4's 'time-to-triangle' to rival PS1

The tech housed inside the PS4 makes it as easy to swiftly bring games to the system as it was to do so for the original PlayStation, according to the PS4 Lead Architect Mark Cerny. Speaking at Spain's GameLab conference this week, Cerny explained how he took Nolan Bushnell's mantra of good games being easy to learn but difficult to master, and applied it to developing the PS4's technology.

"My variation on this was that the hardware should have a familiar architecture and be easy to develop for in the early days of the console life cycle," Cerny said, "But that also there needed to be a rich feature set which the game creators could explore for years.

"To put a more specific timeline on that, perhaps some solid features for Year 1, and some very interesting additional features, perhaps more speculative, for Year 3 or Year 4 of the console lifetime."

Cerny cited a concept he called "time-to-triangle," which he described as the time required to code graphical systems at a level the hardware's capable of, essentially analogous to how long it takes to create the base for games that match the hardware's graphical power. According to Cerny, the PS1's time-to-triangle was one to two months, while the powerful but more complicated PS2 had a time-to-triangle of three to six months. The PS3's time-to-triangle went up to six months to a year as a result of the complex Cell processor, well documented as turning third-party developers away from prioritizing the system.

In contrast, Cerny said the PS4's time-to-triangle is just one to two months, the same amount of time as the original PlayStation's. In his role as PS4 Lead Architect, Cerny spoke with over 30 third-party developers including EA, Capcom, and Rockstar. The feedback he received was that they wanted unified memory as opposed to the PS3's split memory layout running through the Cell processor. Also, if money was to be spent, it should go towards ensuring the system has a powerful graphical processing unit - the PS4 houses a 1.84 TFlops AMD Radeon Graphics Core.

According to Cerny, the end result allows third-party devs to easily leverage their PC-based graphics systems onto the PS4, but also lets indie devs port their games without fuss, or create games for the system without having to worry about hostile tech.

You can watch Cerny's talk in full via the video above, which also takes in how the journey of the former Naughty Dog and Insmomiac collaborator intertwined with the various evolutions of PlayStation. You'll also see a screen featuring Cerny alongside Sony Worldwide Studios chief Shuhei Yoshida and Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House as the three musketeers, which is a swashbuckling action game waiting to be made if ever we saw one.