Why to emulate PS4 games you need a more powerful PC than the console

One of the capabilities that make the PC the ultimate gaming system is the ability to emulate the operation of consoles from a few years ago. Which allows us to enjoy their games from the computer without having the original console. However, it is necessary a hardware that in requirements and in comparison with the emulated system results in an exaggeration. What is this phenomenon due to?

The best way to emulate a previous system is to have its circuitry built into the new system in some way or another. However, when you don’t have the rights to it and you want to make it possible to play the games on that system, you have to pull an emulator. Which is a program that allows you to understand the code of the system programs that you want to simulate and that our computer behaves as close as possible to the original console. However, achieving it faithfully is not only a daunting job, and more so the more complex the systems to emulate, but also due to a series of limitations.

What are the difficulties to emulate a console?

The main and most important one is the lack of documentation of how certain hardware functions work, and not because of not knowing what they do, but how they do it. Quite simply, the games are in charge of executing certain instructions at certain moments that, after an analysis of the code, help us to know what they do, but the key is rather in how they do it.

And here comes the big problem with regard to current emulation and to understand it we have to take into account that certain instructions of a system have specific times and depend on others. In such a way that if they are not respected they can end up causing unexpected results in the emulation of the games or even the fact that they stop working.

Let’s not forget that these are systems that have been created by a single manufacturer, who is the one who controls the distribution and development of the games and, therefore, the tools and development kits. You are not required to document the hardware to third parties, which drives emulator creators to their heads.

What if the console is based on PC hardware?

The other example we have in the last two generations of Xbox and PlayStation, which use PC hardware, however, there are a series of differences that make emulation totally different on these systems.

  • The boot system is different, which prevents directly loading the operating system of these consoles.
  • Consoles use a series of special processors for certain tasks that are not available on the PC. A clear example is the on-chip audio DSPs, which differ between platforms.
  • Most games are compressed with a key, the decompression process first requires discovering it and secondly having enough capacity to do it fast enough without affecting game performance.
  • The memory addresses to which certain peripheral functions are assigned are changed between systems, which can cause certain errors in operation.

In general, the fact that a system uses a PC processor does not make it a conventional computer and there may be details behind the scenes that we do not know and that require a titanic effort to be able to emulate.

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