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New patent hints at a PS5 system with “multiple SoCs”

Sony might have a couple more tricks up its sleeve with the PS5, with a new patent describing a “scalable game console CPU/GPU design”. The filing has spurred rumours that a ‘Pro' version of the PS5 console may already be planned, included a multi-SoC system and cloud servers to enhance performance. 

Spotted by redditor u/anexanhume, Sony's multiple SoC patent starts by briefly detailing how it is possible to render portions of each frame of video in a multi-GPU simulation environment and the benefits of its utilisation. In the patent, a console using a single SoC is cited as the “light version” of the console, while one using multiple SoCs is described as a “high-end version”, which might come with more RAM, storage and other features.

The patent not only refers to multiple local SoCs, but it also tells us about using SoCs “from cloud servers”, which is basically what “PlayStation Now” does. It also points out how using more than a single SoC in a system comes with disadvantages, and how they can be solved. One of the issues raised in the patent is thermals, which can be solved by dynamically adjusting the frequencies and/or voltages.

The core principle presented in this patent to render a frame using multiple SoCs is by setting each SoC to render part of the frame. It then uses multiplexing techniques to combine the rendered frame parts and output them as a single frame. The multiple SoCs might be located in a console, a local network, or in the cloud.

There are three block diagrams in the patent, each showing a multi-SoC console system. The first one shows us an example of two APUs, each with their own memory controllers and RAM, in the same die using the NUMA architecture, allowing the APU faster access to contents of memory. The second diagram suggests the use of two SoCs (CPU and GPU) in the same die, with a shared memory controller and shared RAM. The third and final one shows a die with CPU, GPU, memory controller, and RAM, with an extra die with a CPU and GPU that uses the memory and memory controller of the other die, sharing the RAM and memory controller like in the previous example.

In the patent, it's also written that  access to multiple SoCs can be made through “a cloud server by paying extra fees”, with “lower-paying users” getting access to fewer dies, and “higher-paying users” getting more dies allocated to them.

KitGuru Says: Companies often file patents for tech that they don't necessarily intend to use in the near future. With that in mind, this can be chalked up to R&D efforts for now. Do you think a PS5 Pro will eventually be announced? 

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