With the arrival of Project Scorpio and PlayStation 4 Neo, the principle of traditional console generations seems to be disappearing, but the hardware chosen by Sony and Microsoft when designing the consoles launched in 2013 also plays a big role in this.
One of the most convincing arguments in favor of consoles is that they do not need to be replaced for years. However, in connection with the two best-selling machines of the eighth generation (the Wii U had other problems), it suddenly came up that it was time to release a more powerful machine. Previously, there would have been no chance of such a quick generation change, but based on the PS4 and Xbox One, it is not so risky to release such a wrinkled machine.
A GameSpot writer raised the issue. Previously, many consoles were built using very special components – especially processors – that were not used at all in other machines, so developers had to adapt to rarely seen hardware environments, architectures and instruction sets. In recent years, the best example of this phenomenon was the PlayStation 3 and the Cell architecture invented for it, which caused sleepless nights even for Sony’s in-house developers, and also interfered with cross-generational compatibility. The PS2 used the MIPS instruction set, and with the successor PlayStation 4, Sony switched to x86.
The lack of backward compatibility caused quite serious problems even after the seven-year console generation, and in the event of a machine change occurring after a shorter period of time, the outrage would probably have been even greater. The x86 architecture, on the other hand, has been around since 1978 and is extremely widespread to this day, including CPUs with this background in most PCs. The positive benefit of this is not only the compatibility between hardware variations, but also the fact that the developers have a lot of experience on this platform. This means not only better performance, but also a lot of usable technology (such as graphics engines), which ultimately saves a lot of resources and gives different studios and smaller teams the opportunity to develop for consoles.
Thus, Sony and Microsoft can relatively calmly stand in front of people with the message that their previously purchased machines will not be rendered redundant by the arrival of the new consoles, whereas previously the pitchforks would have immediately come out upon hearing such a statement. Although the appearance of both half-generation consoles is still a long way off, it is increasingly certain that the age of console generations of many years is coming to an end and we are one step closer to the constantly developing world of PCs and mobile phones.
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