In 1994, 32-bit gaming consoles were released one after another. Their performance levels were upgraded from the pre-existing gaming consoles, and most devices switched to using CD-ROMs as the storage, which had more storage capacity, were cheap, and could be mass-produced. One of the most well-known examples of this would be Sony’s PlayStation. It was a groundbreaking product in the gaming industry as the console not only provided high-quality video and audio, but also greatly decreased the price of the software.
In 1996, Nintendo introduced the Nintendo64 with a 64-bit processor while keeping the ROM cartridge as their data storage. This brought the transition of the top company in the gaming console industry from Nintendo to Sony. The PlayStation continued to be manufactured after 2000, even after its updated models were released. Up until 2004, when its sale stopped for good in Japan, Sony achieved the miraculous record of making 100 million sales around the world.
Since then, gaming consoles switched from using CD-ROMs to DVDs, then to the next-generation optical disk, Blue-Ray as the data-saving medium. Such advancements have allowed for us to enjoy games in the highest quality we never even imagined!
There are semiconductors in gaming consoles?!
The 1st-generation console, Magnavox Odyssey, had a very simplistic main body without a CPU. But over generations, gaming consoles incorporated semiconductors, not only the CPU but also the GPU (Graphic Processing Unit), which continually improved the gaming experience.
Recently, Sony and Microsoft announced their plans to release the new PS5 and Xbox Series X for the first time in 7 years since 2013. Along with this, they released the specifications in detail, signaling the start of a new generation. So far, gaming consoles mostly used the HDD (Hard Disk Drive) as the data-saving medium, which limited their speed. But by incorporating the next-generation medium, the SSD, a memory semiconductor instead, they are leaving the speed-loving gamers hopeful.
The evolution of semiconductors impacts our lives in so many ways. Next time you enjoy some games, remember that they were made possible thanks to semiconductors!