Sony Engineer Compares PS4 to Formula 1 Car; Shares Detailed Schematics and Info on Cooling Solution

Sony Engineer Compares PS4 to Formula 1 Car; Shares Detailed Schematics and Info on Cooling Solution

Sony’s Engineering Director Yasuhiro Ootori is considered one of the main masterminds behind the design of the PS4, and yesterday he held a special lecture on the console’s cooling solution at the INTERNEPCON Japan trade show in Tokyo, as reported by Japanese websites Famitsu and Inside Games.

Not only Ootori-san gave a detailed rundown on the heat management design of the PS4, but compared it with the designs included in the PS2 and in the three different models of the PS3.

Putting both reports together we learn some quite interesting details about the engineering of Sony’s new console:

  • The cooling solution of the PS4 follows a mix of the basic designs of version G and N of the PS3 (the second and third iterations).
  • The airflow design of the PS4 is based on the PS3 version N, while the power supply, heat sink and cooling fan derive from the know-how gathered while building version G.
  • Air coming from the intake port is split in two and used to cool both the bottom and the top of the main board, then flows into the heat sink, cools the internal power source and then is expelled through the exhaust port.
  • The airflow is regulated and channeled thanks to the difference between areas of positive pressure and negative pressure generated by the cooling fan.
  • The design of the heat sink is simple, with two heat pipes. The pitch of the fins has been improved by giving it a different angle in the low speed area compared to where the air flows faster, and the design of the blades has been optimized for the PS4.
  • The fan has been given a trapezoidal shape when seen from the side: during experimental testing the engineering team determined that this peculiar shape reduces the noise generated by turbulence.
  • The motor that propels the fan is a three-phase one. It’s slightly more costly than the single-phase motors used in the PS2 and PS3, but allows for lower power consumption and less vibration at lower rotational speeds.
  • Since in video games graphical load and heat generation varies very sharply, the PS2 and PS3 had a problem where their fans would not decrease in rotational speed efficiently when load dropped suddenly. This problem doesn’t appear in the PS4, reducing the overall noise.
  • The PS4 has a sensor that measures the temperature of the air passing through the exhaust area. Thanks to that, it’s possible to control the surface temperature of the shell.

A comparison between the efficiency of the cooling solution of the PS4 with the three PS3 models and the PS2 was also made.

  • The PS4 has a heat treatment capacity compared to the volume of the unit similar (slightly lower) to the first PS3 model despite being much smaller.
  • The airflow is considerably more powerful than that of the G version of the PS3 and similar to that of the N version.
  • The area of the intake and exhaust ports is quite a lot lower than the first PS3 that was “full of holes,” but higher than the other two models, while keeping a natural design.
  • During gameplay the noise level is comparable to the latest model of the PS3, despite the much higher graphical load. On the dashboard noise is much inferior thanks to the three-phase motor of the fan.
  • The Ps4 has a much lower power consumption ratio for its fan compared to the total power required by the console than all models of the PS3. The fan uses only 10 W of the 250 W provided by the power source, for a ratio of only 4%
  • The PS4 beats the earlier models of the PS3 (but not the latest one) for heat treatment capability per dollar cost, being able to dissipate the heat generated by 5.1 W per dollar.

Concluding his lecture Ootori-san mentioned that the technology of the PS4 was cultivated thanks to the know-how acquired due to the challenges faced by the PS3. He also compared the new console by Sony to a Formula 1 car:

“A fast machine is beautiful” and not “a beautiful machine is fast”

With that he meant to emphasize the importance of functional beauty that appears only as a result of the relentless pursuit of technological advancement.

Below you can see the slides used in the lecture, illustrating the points mentioned above and more.