Enlarge/ A shot of the PS4's main processor, courtesy of a teardown from Wired. (credit: Wired)
In terms of raw power, console hardware doesn't really change over time; the PS4 you buy today will essentially have the same pixel-pushing components as one you buy in 2020. But through software updates, the current generation of game consoles is managing to give developers access to more of that raw hardware power as time goes on.
Sony's PlayStation 4 is the latest beneficiary of this trend. The system's eight-core CPU used to devote two entire cores to managing the underlying operating system, leaving just six available for developers to use for games. So it was a bit surprising when the release notes for a recent version of FMOD Studio's middleware platform noted that the API had "added FMOD_THREAD_CORE6 to allow access to the newly unlocked 7th core."
Digital Foundry confirmed with its development sources that Sony has indeed unlocked a seventh CPU core for direct access by developers. Those same sources suggest that the core may still be partly used for system-related tasks at points, so it's not exactly a one-sixth improvement in available CPU time. Still, every little bit helps when trying to process complex scenes or bits of game logic.