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Sony unlocks seventh PS4 core

According to data buried in a recent update for the FMOD audio tool, Sony has quietly released an SDK that will maintain Playstation 4’s supremacy over Microsoft’s Xbox One as far as graphics are concerned. Initially, two of Sony’s eight Jaguar cores on the PS4 were reserved for the operating system and other vital console tasks. Now, if this update report is accurate, Sony has opened up one more core to developers for use in games.

This comes after a similar move by Microsoft to try and close the performance gap between the two top-tier gaming consoles that have dominated the console gaming space since their respective releases. Microsoft released an update for Xbox One last year that unlocked more GPU bandwidth and another of the system’s cores, giving developers access to a coveted seventh out of eight. This meant a 10 percent improvement in GPU performance, but it also meant sacrificing some Kinect performance like voice commands — one of the features for which the system was so famous.

Both consoles use semi-custom eight-core AMD processors. While the Xbox One clocks its version higher than the PlayStation 4, technically giving it more CPU horsepower, the PS4 often performs better than the Xbox One due to its more powerful GPU and unified GDDR5 RAM architecture. Sony’s console hosts a GPU that hits 1.84 teraflops of raw power, while the Xbox One’s serves up 1.31 teraflops.

The first reports of Sony’s change to PS4 function came from the line in the FMOD Studio API revision history from November 17:  “Added FMOD_THREAD_CORE6 to allow access to the newly unlocked 7th core.” However, Sony has yet to make an official announcement about this, and debates continue to rage on various forums.

PS4 players — and end users — won’t see anything different immediately, but unlocking an additional core could help game performance in the future, and give developers the little bit extra they need to stuff more detail in their virtual worlds.

The PS4 has been selling twice as much as Xbox One, leaving Microsoft to make up ground. We’ll have to wait to the close of the holiday season for more concrete updates on the state of the console wars, but Sony’s latest move will make it just a bit harder for Microsoft to catch up.

Updated 12/1/15 correction to Xbox release date