Zen 2 is on consoles is going to be a Game Changer, even for PC gamers

Zen 2 is on consoles is going to be a Game Changer, even for PC gamers

Zen 2 is on consoles is going to be a Game Changer, even for PC gamers

It’s official, Sony’s next-generation PlayStation console will utilise AMD’s Zen 2 CPU architecture (more information here), which is a big deal for the future of gaming, both on PC and console platforms. 

When looking at the PlayStation 4, we know that the console utilises an 8-core AMD Jaguar processor with a clock speed of 1.6GHz, giving the console relatively little processing power when compared to today’s desktop computers. 

Even during its time, Jaguar was designed to be a low power CPU architecture, releasing back in 2013 with relatively little success outside of the console market. Simply put, the power offered by AMD’s Jaguar cores held the CPU performance of today’s consoles well behind gaming PCs of that era, only serving to increase developer reliance on multi-threading, thanks to the relatively low single-threaded CPU performance of low clocked Jaguar CPU cores. The introduction of Zen 2 into next-generation consoles changes that. 

For starters, AMD’s Zen 2 architecture is designed to offer more performance per clock than AMD’s older CPU architectures, and thanks to AMD’s refined design and their use of 7nm lithography AMD’s Zen architectures can offer raw clock speeds that are higher than that any of today’s consoles can deliver. 

Think of it this way, the PlayStation 4 runs it CPU at 1.6GHz while the Xbox One X runs custom Jaguar CPU cores at 2.3GHz. Move over to AMD’s low-power Ryzen 2700, and it offers a base clock speed of 3.2GHz and a maximum boost clock speed of 4.1GHz while maintaining a 65W TDP. Given the fact that AMD’s Zen 2 processors use a core design that is more refined and is manufactured using a newer lithography process, it is possible that AMD’s Zen 2 processors could offer similar performance levels to the Ryzen 7 2700 while consuming less power. 

If we were to predict anything for the PlayStation 5, if that is its final name, the CPU would likely run at a clock speed of around 3.2GHz (or higher) with eight Zen 2 cores, offering a great balance between performance and power consumption. AMD’s Zen 2 based processors are not available to consumers yet, so at this time we can only guess at the performance of a hypothetical next-generation Zen-based console. Regardless, a 3.2GHz Zen 2 console would offer significantly more performance than that today’s high-end consoles offer. There is also the potential for Sony to offer core boost clock speeds on their next-generation console, though such a move could be confusing for developers.   

Zen 2 is on consoles is going to be a Game Changer, even for PC gamers  
So what does this mean for PC gamers? That’s an easy one. Hardware requirements for games are going to get a lot steeper, at least on the CPU side. When consoles start offering a more than 2x boost in CPU performance, you can bet that gaming PCs will be put under strain once AAA titles start making full use of the new hardware. 

This will force two things on PC. First, it will force developers to adopt low-level graphical APIs and further focus on multi-threading and CPU optimisation and secondly, it will force PC gamers to embrace higher core counts in larger numbers. Consoles benefit from extreme levels of hardware optimisation, and until now PCs have largely used brute force to get push that. With next-gen, consoles will be closer to high-end PC hardware than ever, which is going to place a lot more focus on CPU performance in the world of PC gaming. 

Think of it this way, if a cutting edge PS5 game runs at 30FPS and makes full use of the console’s CPU, the hypothetical PC version of that game would need a CPU that’s 2x stronger to run at 60FPS. It’s gonna be hard to get a gaming CPU that’s two times stronger than a Zen 2 powered 8-core, especially if it runs at a reasonably high clock speed. 

You can join the discussion on Zen 2 coming to consoles and how that will impact PC gaming on the OC3D Forums.