How do game consoles work?

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How do game consoles manage to play games? They are inferior in physical hardware to computers, but they manage to outperform them. The xbox series s has 10 gigabytes of ram and 4 teraflops. On pc some games would not run with that or would run way worse.

Some old games, like xbox 360 games, cannot be emulated on PC, even with a modern computer, as they will run poorly, but they somehow work on that old hardware. Even if ported to mobile hardware, like the Nintendo Switch, they manage to make the game work, even if that console has less power than the PC.

What do game developers do to optimize for specific hardware and why it cannot be replicated on PC? There are only 2 major CPU suppliers and 2 major GPU suppliers, excluding Intel integrated graphics. Even the ram on pc is interchangeable as long as it is the right DDR generation.

In: Technology

3 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Usually consoles do not perform better. They just have their graphics settings decreased to keep frame rate more consistent.

Most of the time the reason things are difficult to emulate, is because the processor on the console is an entirely different architecture than a desktop processor. So “translating” a console CPU code into desktop CPU code decreases performance.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Modern gaming consoles are basically PCs with fixed hardware and custom operating systems.

They play games the same way a PC does, but the graphics settings are fixed in a manner that optimizes the game for that specific hardware.

Since the hardware is fixed, and consoles have a generally long life span, developers are able to find tricks to optimize games for that specific hardware making them look better than they otherwise would.

The bonus is since you know what the target hardware is, you can adjust to optimize for it. Where-as on PC you have to take a ‘best guess’ of what the hardware will be because you never know. Which is in part why there’s so many modes and graphics settings on PC games to let the players tweak things themselves.

Gaming consoles are also fairly thin OS wise. Since they don’t have to be jack-of-all-trades like a PC they don’t have extra crap (background processes, sub-optimal drivers, and extra programs) running on them that slows them down.

Older consoles like the NES and SNES worked on a similar principal but didn’t have an OS. They booted off the ROM cartridge directly.

Anonymous 0 Comments

A regular PC has to be able to do everything. A gaming console has to be able to do one thing. They are essentially computers that are always going to run only one kind of software, and software that is written to a particular spec and needs to be approved for the hardware.

Because of that, they can cut a lot of functions out of their operating systems and drivers, and just focus on doing that one thing. That lets them get more performance out of the hardware they have.

That’s getting less and less true as we go, and consoles are getting closer to being general use PCs. The newest Xbox runs a version of windows for example. But for the older consoles, that’s how it worked.