PlayStation 4 nearly swapped out the hard drive for flash memory and could have had as little as 2GB of RAM. It would have been dreadful.
Speaking at the Develop conference in Brighton (via Eurogamer) Sony Computer Entertainment boss Andrew House and PS4's lead architect Mark Cerny have spoken about the alternative configurations they considered while designing the console. The key issue was balancing making it good, with the cost of making it good.
Mark Cerny outlines some of the options that were on the table:
"Hard drives are expensive, and it's not like you can put half a hard drive in a console," Cerny explained. "The alternative is flash but you can't put much flash memory in it. We went through all the pluses and minuses - many minuses - of not having a hard drive... the conclusion was we needed to include one and it cost a billion dollars. RAM was another issue. "In the early days we were thinking do we need 2GB or do we need 4GB?" Cerny added. The final decision to choose 8GB was, again, "very expensive".
It was House who made the final call with choices like hard drive/flash causing sleepless nights as it was a billion dollar difference for the machine's production.
"I essentially put a bet that if we went out there with this and made a strong financial commitment upfront, there would be other ways to offset and mitigate that. First and foremost that was ease of development and great experiences, and we would manage the financial implications in some way."
"Does every player need to play Watch Dogs the way it was intended? If you wanted to save money, unfortunately the answer is yes," Cerny concurred. "Watch Dogs is a title that needed 15GB cached [storage memory], a very fast media like a hard drive to be the game people wanted it to be. [Having a hard drive] was embedded in such a basic level of what developers were thinking of making."
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