Patents are not an announcement of commercial technologies or features. That needs to be said up front.

With that out of the way, Sony's latest patent is pretty interesting. Essentially, it offers a quick, simple way for consoles to easily switch between different processors while cranking out graphics.

To understand why this is a big deal, it helps to understand what a GPU does.

A Graphics Processing Unit is essentially a circuit dedicated entirely to building frames ahead of time to be displayed. Think of a video game as a flip-book, and the GPU is constantly turning out new pages of the book as you flip.

If that sounds like a very complex job in a video game, you'd be correct. So changing in mid-stream is a tricky business, to say the least. This is especially true if the two processors have different architectures, making it pretty much impossible.

What Sony's patent does, assuming it works, is make it possible for one GPU to take over for a another GPU, midstream and regardless of architecture.

This is interesting for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that development kits shipped out recently have been built around an accelerated processing unit, or APU, which has an integrated GPU.

This would mean that the PS4 would, for example, be able to handle more complex tasks much more quickly, such as loading the next dungeon while playing through the current one. It would also offer some power savings, as it would mean the lower-power GPU could handle tasks such as rendering menus and loading screens instead of throwing far too much horsepower at such a simple problem.

Whether this technology will be in the PS4 is an open question… but it certainly shows what direction Sony is headed towards.

Source - Gametrailers