The new generation of consoles are on the cusp. The cusp of blowing our flipping minds and pants away. Of pinning your eyes back and forcing it to watch 16k graphics with limitless choice, AI and of course, Keanu Reeves. In everything.
Or so manufacturers and publishers would like you to believe. For those that listen to our podcast, myself and Dante (my co-host) have talked about the next gen and pinned all our hopes on the size of the teraflops, or teraflopage for those in the know. If Sony has more more teraflopage in the PS5 than the Xbox 180.233.X, then you can be pretty sure it is going to be the superior console. Why else would Microsoft have banged on about their teraflopage in the build up to the Xbox 1 X? Mark Cerny of Sony has come flat out and laid down an impossibly high gauntlet of teraflopage at 13. I mean 13? Can you imagine.
I know what you are thinking? Why are teraflops important? Well Digital Trends explained that ‘A teraflop refers to the capability of a processor to calculate one trillion floating-point operations per second. Saying something has “6 TFLOPS,” for example, means that its processor setup is capable of handling 6 trillion floating-point calculations every second, on average.’
Now we have no f*cking clue what this means in technical detail but we can lay it down for you. More Teraflopage means things go faster in a computer box thingy, be it PC or Console or whatever. The PS4 had 1.4 TFLOPS, the XB1X had like 6 and the PS5 will have 13. You do the math. No really, please, I can’t work it out.
At the end of the day this is what is important in a new console right? Teraflopage is important isn’t it?
Well yes and no. It is a measurement that things are getting faster in computing terms. It remains completely to be seen how this works. First off, when it comes to development, some developers are renowned to push graphics in consoles and hardware beyond what others can – see Naughty Dog on the PS3 with the Uncharted series or TLOU. I have kittens when I see how beautiful Horizon Zero Dawn is on a base PS4.
That’s graphics though – what about gameplay? Well arguably, has gameplay developed much between last gen and current gen? The 360/PS3 vs XB1/PS4? I’d argue that in standard console AND PC gaming, the answer is no. They look better. They are larger. Slightly more immersive. More cinematic for sure. However, we are largely seeing the polishing of a format of gaming that began in the PS2 era. Indeed, possibly the most innovative gaming designs that have impacted gameplay are the lesser powered Nintendo consoles, such as the Wii and Switch.
In truth, impressive Teraflopage becomes impressive when it is powerful enough to actually change the game, not improve it. In theory, more powerful hardware could lead to breakthroughs in AI and intelligence. Maybe how games react to you. Or it could just be shinier and larger games of Assassin’s Creed or COD.
Of course, I am excluding VR and some innovative games that could only run on new hardware. However, with VR, I’d go as far as saying the tech isn’t quite there yet to fulfil the vision (though ooooh so close).
So really, when we here at Jambags bang on about teraflopage, we are banging the same drum as manufacturers. Powerful? Yes. Impressive? Undoubtedly (we presume, we still don’t understand it). Game changer? Remains to be seen but in all likelihood, probably not.
Also, it has the word flop in it. Tee hee.