A recent patent publication by Sony has gotten people talking about the possibility of backwards compatibility support in the next PlayStation.
PlayStation 5 - or whatever Sony's next home console is going to be called, is well away from being in our homes. There's no denying that Sony is currently working on the next PlayStation, however, which is what makes this patent registration interesting - at least initially.
Dug up by Gearnuke, Sony's patent is for a technology it calls "remastering by emulation."
The description goes into much greater detail, of course, but it essentially boils down to a process capable of replacing remastered audio and visuals on the fly.
By assigning a unique identifier to game assets, the system is able to replace the old with the remastered automatically, or continue using existing assets should better versions not exist.
"An artist remasters the textures for presentation on a higher resolution display than envisioned in the original software, and stores them back in the data structure with their identifiers," explains the document.
"The original software is then played on the higher resolution display, with asset (such as texture) calls being intercepted, identified, and the data structure entered to retrieve the remastered asset having a matching identifier."
Sounds a lot like system-level emulation, which is where the PS5 speculation began. Though the patent was only published in May, Sony filed for it all the way back in November, 2016. In other words, Sony has been working on this tech for years, well before work began on PS5.
In effect, the patent's pages essentially describe what PS4 does today for PS1, and PS2 "remasters". Called PS2 classics, games like Destroy All Humans, and the Jak and Daxter Collection can be played on PS4 today, and they look better than their original releases.
That's not to say the same technology can't be utilised to make PS4 games playable on the inevitable next PlayStation, but this likely wasn't the goal of this patent. Assuming PS5 is also based on the PC-like x86 platform, emulation could prove easier than ever. We can't say for sure, however, until the console is announced and released.