20 Feb 2013

At the "See the Future" event in New York, Sony announced its latest console the PlayStation 4.  The console will be arriving during the holiday season of 2013, but no pricing plans were given and there were no glimpses of the hardware itself.  However, many details of the functionality of the PS4 were given as well as the raw specs.  The full press conference video is at the end of the article.

Andrew House of Sony said, "We believe that PlayStation 4 represents a shift from thinking of a box or console.  PlayStation is the best place to play."

Sony revealed details that the PS4 is based on "supercharged PC architecture," that has an x86 processor, 8 GB of GDDR5, and an enhanced PC-style GPU.  Both the GPU and CPU are designed by Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).  The PS4 will contain 8 "Jaguar" CPU cores that provide 1.84 teraflops of computational performance.  This will allow for 30,000 polygons to be rendered in real time.  By comparison Heavy Rain on the PS3 uses 15,000.  The new controller is called DualShock 4 and will feature the Vita-style touchpad and a light bar on the back to identify players.  See the full list of specs below.

Each PS4 will have a 3D camera to track the controllers using the bar.  Boot times are no more, thanks to a suspend and resume of play by the press of the power button.  The console even contains a second chip for managing uploads and downloads, even while the power is off.  Digital titles can be played as they are being downloaded.  There will also be "always-on" video compression so users can upload video as they play, along with sharing of footage and photos of their gaming experiences.

Social integration with chat allows users to watch games being played by others (OnLive has had this feature for some time) and use smartphones to browse videos and use companion apps. 

As had been rumored in the past, game developers will be able to implement second screen functionality to let gamers play PS4 titles on their Vita.  Eventually all PS4 titles will be playable on the Vita.  However, current PS3 games will not be playable on the PS4.  The company did indicate there is the possibility that PS3 games will be playable, eventually, on almost any device.

Demo wise they indicated Bungie's Destiny would be coming to the PS4 and Ubisoft's WatchDogs as well.  E3 is coming in June, so more details will be sure to follow by then.

PS4 Specs

  • Single-chip custom processor, with eight x86-64 AMD Jaguar CPU cores and 1.84 TFLOPS next-gen AMD Radeon based graphics engine
  • 8GB GDDR5 memory
  • 6x Blu-Ray and 8x DVD drive
  • USB 3.0 and auxiliary ports
  • Built-in hard drive
  • Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 2.1
  • HDMI, analog AV-out, and optical S/PDIF audio output
  • DualShock 4 controller, with two-point capacitive touchpad, three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer, light bar with three color LEDs, vibration mono speaker, stereo headset port, micro USB port, extension port, 1000mAh battery
  • PlayStation 4 Eye camera, with two 1280 x 800 cameras, f/2.0 fixed focus lenses, 85-degree field of view, 30cm minimum focusing distance, four-channel microphone array

Check out the demo video of the game Killzone: Shadow Falls:

The Tech-Stew Take Home

If we revisit the early days of the PS3 there were some growing pains back in 2006.  The PS3 had a starting price of as high as $599 for the 60GB version, which Sony was criticized for and later brought the price down.  Will we see a lower initial price tag on the PS4, perhaps in the $499 range at best?  The PS3 had 256MB of XDR memory, now the PS4 has 8GB of GDDR5.  With the PlayStation 4 Eye, Sony should be able to compete with the Kinect interface on the Xbox 360.  It remains to be seen how the performance will stack up, but it certainly has the processing power, though computing power is usually not looked at as strongly as the GPU.  In the case of the PS4's GPU it should at least be comparable to that of a 7850, if you go by Teraflops at least.  Overall things look very solid for the PS4 on paper, but the key factors here are price, content, and features, given the growing mobile gaming environment on platforms such as tablets and other devices.  To succeed one would think they would have to deliver an experience that is more than just a gaming console, given the higher buy in price in a market where the pure gaming console is becoming less relevant.  Sony has to come out of the box with a multifunctional entertainment system akin to the way the Xbox 360 has dominated recently.  Certainly by years end, we will see if Sony can deliver and you can probably bank on a yes on that one. 

Source:  NewsDay.com, Sony

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