John Carmack’s next-gen wish list

2 min read


John Carmack, id’s knows his hardware. He knows how to optimize software to take advantage of whatever’s available to him. RAGE is evidence of this; it runs at 60 frames per second on all systems, with some of the most impressive graphical fidelity you’ll find in games today. If you follow him on Twitter, it becomes apparent that he’s some sort of sentient machine being jacked straight in to the matrix. He sees in code.

For this reason, when he talks up what he’d like to see in next-generation console hardware – were I a platform developer – I’d listen intently.

“So one of the most important things I would say is a unified virtual 64-bit address space, across both the GPU and the CPU,” Carmack said to Toms Guide. “Not a partition space, like the PS3. Also, a full 64-bit space with virtualization on the hardware units – that would be a large improvement.”

“There aren’t any twitchy graphics features that I really want; we want lots of bandwidth, and lots of cores,” he continued. “There’s going to be a heterogeneous environment here, and it’s pretty obvious at this point that we will have some form of CPU cores and GPU cores. We were thinking that it might be like a pure play Intel Larabee or something along that line, which would be interesting, but it seems clear at this point that we will have a combination of general purpose cores and GPU-oriented cores, which are getting flexible enough that you can do most of the things that you would do on a CPU.”

“But there are still plenty of things that are much better done with a traditional CPU core, debugger and development environment. I will be a little surprised if there’s any radical departure from that. I hope neither of them [Sony and Microsoft] mess that up in some fundamental way.”

“I’m very interested to see what the next gen consoles look like, if they’re even going to have optical media or if they try to strike out without it,” Carmack said. “Those are the types of big decisions that I wouldn’t want to be in the position of making because they’re billion dollar effects.”

I have no idea what the hell he’s talking about, but if it means that The PlayStation4 or Xbox Next will melt my eyeballs, I’m all for it.

Last Updated: August 24, 2011

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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