“Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.”
- Steve Jobs
Technology is all about efficiency. It’s about creating something that is smarter, stronger, and more powerful than we could ever be. The first computers must have wowed the people who saw them, but they are mere cavemen compared to the demigod-like power of the devices we wield today. We are constantly searching for that next breakthrough, that next schism that further separates us from these all powerful beings that we have crafted.
Of course, these computers have not turned on us because although we have given them true power, we left free will dangling in front of them like a proverbial carrot. We consistently chase this ever fleeting goal of ultimate efficiency by improving the processing power, upping the storage capacity, and streamlining the interface. Logic dictates that a plateau exists where we can go no further, but each passing day further cements the fact that we are far from such a place.
As the opening quote suggests, technology can be a tool for doing wonderful things. We gamers exist because enough people saw the potential for technology to create a new medium of entertainment. This website exists because of those people, and the PS5 will exist because that dream will never die.
Technological Breakthrough: 3D Stacked RAM
Researchers at Rice University have developed a way to create what is known as 3D stacked RAM, or also commonly known as resistive random access memory (RRAM). This kind of memory has been around, but the cost of manufacturing it was too expensive, so no one really pursued the concept. In theory though, this method of chip manufacturing can create single postage stamp sized chips that can hold as much as a terabyte of data.
Currently, 3D stacked RAM is being considered as an alternative for smartphones which still use flash memory. Like flash memory, it doesn’t need a constant supply of power to store data. Flash memory however, uses transistors to store bits of information, and this new type of RAM uses resistance to store data which means less space is required. It also operates a hundred times faster than flash memory, so there’s that too.
Normally, to create 3D stacked RAM, there has to be a lot of high-temperatures and extreme voltages present. This new method developed by the folks at Rice University allows the process to happen at a low voltage and at room temperature which honestly sounds too good to be true. Without going into ridiculous amounts of scientific jargon, I’ll explain how the process works.
It starts with a layer of silicon dioxide that has a bunch of tiny holes that are each five nanometers wide. Very, very tiny. This layer is sandwiched between two thin layers of metal that serve as electrodes. When a voltage is applied, the metal migrates into the holes and forms a connection between the electrodes through the porous layer in the middle. From here, data can be stored by changing the conductivity of the silicon with a low-voltage pulse. The data remains stored until another pulse rewrites it.
From here, manufacturers can continue to stack layers and layers on to further increase the storage capacity, hence the name 3D stacked RAM. Samsung is actually working on a version that could potentially have up to 24 layers.
This is how technology is progressing now. Instead of building things bigger and bigger, we're learning how to utilize what we have and improve on it. All the power in the world is worth nothing if it's not affordable and efficient. This priority shift is happening now because of the need for efficiency as much as we need raw power.
What This Means for PS5
In light of this new development, rumors have been spreading that the PS5 could potentially use this type of RAM. Beyond the powerful and efficiency of these new chips, some have begun speculating that Sony will team up with a chip manufacturing company named Micron to start making 3D stacked RAM for the PS5. Let’s examine the other theories that led up to this one, I think you’ll like where this is going.
These theories come from a website called Insiderp and while bold, they make sense. Right now, Sony has been partnering with Micron to make RAM for the PS3, but we all know that system is on it’s way out. Since joining up with Micron, and releasing the PS4, Sony’s shares have been on the rise. They are currently at $17.42 a share on the market. As the PS4 expands into China and India, this price is expected to shoot up to $50.00 a share according to them!
With the PS3 set to be discontinued in the next 1-2 years, Sony is expected to give those chip factories over to Micron for production of 3D Stacked RAM for the PS5. By repurposing these factories, Sony could save money on production and therefore have more of a budget for the CPU and GPU of the next generation console. All of this leads to them speculating that the PS5 will be out within the next five or six years.
A Bonus Theory
Insiderp also makes a few other claims about the PS4 and the next generation in the same breath that they predicted the Micron-Sony partnership for 3D stacked RAM. They predict that with the spread of the PS4 into China and India, that the console will see a lifetime sales figure of up to 100 million units sold. In addition, with the PS4 continuing to crush the Xbox One, they speculate that Microsoft will fall on their sword and exit console gaming altogether after this generation.
Of course this little bonus theory is total speculation on their part, but I thought all the fans out there would like to leave this article with the beautiful though of an end to the console war and the PS5 standing as the sole victor. You never know, but we can always dream.
What do you think of these rumors? Will Microsoft really bow out of the race and surrender to the everlasting glory of Sony? What about this new type of 3D stacked RAM, will it be used in the PS5? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!