We found out quite a lot about the upcoming Sony PlayStation 4 at the official unveiling event last month. There were quite a few hardware specs revealed, a lot of information about the controller and also about how the system would work. However we never saw a glimpse of the machine itself. Now Sony is at the Game Developer's Conference (GDC 2013), they have to show us a few more titbits to keep us interested. We still haven’t got a picture of the machine but what new details have been revealed?
Starting with the chipset that will power the games, Sony Senior Staff Engineer Chris Norden told GDC attendees that the 8-core 64-bit x86 CPU was capable of running 8 hardware threads. The machine can run graphics and computational code synchronously providing up to 1.843 teraFLOPS of graphics processing power while still leaving headroom for computation. Even so Norden stressed the chips will be low power consumption and low heat emission parts.
VRZone summarised Norden’s tech blurb into some nice concise bullet points:
- CPU: 64-bit x86 architecture, low heat & power consumption, 8x cores, 8 HW threads, 2MiB L2 cache per 4 core group, 32 kib|1 I/D-cache
- RAM: 8GB 256 bit GDDR5
- PS4 Shader Language is very similar to HLSL, allows features BEYOND Direct X 11 and OpenGL 4.0
As you can see emphasised in the points above, Sony is extending the graphics feature set beyond Direct X 11.1. Norden explained “This is access you're not used to getting on the PC, and as a result you can do a lot more cool things and have a lot more access to the power of the system”. Additionally a low level programming API will let coders hit the hardware at a “much lower-level than DirectX and OpenGL” reports Ars Technica.
Sony’s Norden also took the opportunity to talk up the 8GB of GDDR5 system RAM. He explained that it will provide 176 gigabytes of total bandwidth to the PS4. In addition the unified address space makes things simpler for developers when compared to the likes of the PS3.
There are a number of pretty big changes to the PS4 standard game pad with many features added in comparison to the DS3 but also some features have been stripped away. Additions to the controller include, of course the touchpad control, but there are also precise configurable strength of the force feedback motors, customisable light bar colour, L2/R2 button redesign and the feature of controllers recharging while the system is off.
Other less positive changes are that the “seldom used” analogue face buttons present on the DS3 would be cut, however a positive aspect of this is that the input latency should be reduced.
PlayStation 4 Eye camera
The new camera is composed of two imaging units each capable of 1280×800 resolution and 60Hz at 12 bits per pixel. The camera has an 85 degree field of view. It will have a dedicated port on the PS4 and not use up a USB port. The camera also is equipped with a three-axis accelerometer.
Discussing other supporting hardware it was revealed that the PS4 will be equipped with a Blu-ray drive that offers three times the transfer speed of the one in Sony’s PS3 and that every system will include a “very large” HDD.
Overall the console sounds more impressive the more we learn about it. Hopefully the price will be right and Microsoft will put out some stiff console competition.