PS4 Razor GPU/CPU Profiler and PC Sampling Detailed – How SN Systems is Working to Optimize the Console

Author Photo
Jul 12, 2014

Sony’s latest PlayStation 4 console is leading the eighth generation of video game consoles in almost all major regions since it launched back in 2013. It is currently the most powerful video game console in the market, and while Microsoft is working on squeezing more performance out of the Xbox One console, Sony is also not sitting ducks. The Japanese platform holder has a lot of good stuff going on for the PS4 behind the scenes, and here are some details on the Razor GPU/CPU profiler and other optimizations that are keeping the console in good health and helping developers to achieve 60fps.

PlayStation 4 PS4

This is How PlayStation Optimization Team, SN Systems, is Pushing for 60FPS on PS4 – Razor GPU/CPU Profiler, PC Sampling and Linker Optimizations Detailed

Microsoft has a whole operative PR team that explains and demonstrates the upcoming technologies and programming methods that the company uses to enhance the performance of its Xbox One video game console, but Sony on the other hand, likes to give some secrecy to the people who work for betterment of the PS4, and with no PR team, you will hear fairly less about what is going on behind the scenes at Sony, but that doesn’t mean the platform holder is not concerned about the performance of its console.

Until now, we have only heard about Sony’s ICE Team and how it is working to improve the overall PS4 performance by optimizing GPU drivers, graphics API and other important management systems used to run the console, but it seems that ICE Team is not the only unit that works for betterment of PS4, a little-known team called SN Systems is also working to optimize Sony’s latest console.

According to ICE Team Programmer, Cort Stratton, SN Systems (also known as the Razor Team) is a part of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Thanks to GamingBolt, we have some details about how the team is contributing in optimizing and increasing the offerings of the PS4 console. Folks over at the SN Systems actually work on the console’s GPU performance analysis and debugging tool, and Razor, which is a CPU profiler for the console.

The official website of SN Systems also reveals some interesting details on how they have been creating the tools that are used by video game developers around the world and how they are pushing the PlayStation platforms to gain every bit of the essential performance. The Razor performance analysis tools build by SN Systems have a feature called PC (or Program Counter) sampling. This feature helps the developers to find out which functions are being called and executed the most, which are sometimes termed as “hot” functions.

PC sampling measures performance by regularly determining which functions the Razor Profiler’s program counter is in, this allows the developers to get a visual overview for each and every function that is being executed, along with timings. Analyzing the provided timings, developers can find out which functions are taking too long to execute, and this results into optimized coding and programming. Eventually, handling a few microseconds allows the developers to run games at either 30fps or 60fps. In the screenshot shared below, Razor Profiler is showing which function is taking the most time, and the green bars are showing which function the program counter is in.

ANALYZE_1The amount of storage can be limited when developing for a video game console, so SN Systems makes sure that the executable files are as small as they possibly can be, with the help of dead-stripping and de-duplicating. As the name suggests, dead-stripping is about removing the unused “dead” code and data blocks from the executable files since they are of no use now. This program exercise reduces the size of executable file around 5-10%. De-duplication further optimizes the final executable file by reducing its size after eliminating duplicated copies of identical code and read-only data. In this way, each of the references is changed into the original one, allowing 1-2% reduction in executable size.

The table shared below shows the reduction in executable size that can be made, in real-world examples such as in middleware demos and PlayStation 4 games, by using dead-stripping and de-duplication.

dead-strippingIt is interesting to know that how SN Systems is working to optimize the PS4 for developers. The console is already leading the performance criteria by having some of the best looking and performing multiplatform games, yet still, the Japanese platform holder is pushing for further optimizations. It will be interesting to see if these optimizations allow developers to achieve 60fps on PS4 more consistently in future.

What do you think about PS4 performance and optimizations? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.