We still have absolutely no idea what the PlayStation 4 looks like, but we're getting a better picture of what's within: Sony's just released a list of tech specs for the console. Confirming months of rumors, the PS4 will primarily have AMD silicon inside, in the form of a "single-chip custom processor" with eight AMD Jaguar CPU cores, and a next-gen Radeon graphics engine capable of 1.84 teraflops of performance.
Here's the full spec sheet:
- 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
- Built-in hard drive
- 6x Blu-Ray and 8x DVD drive
- USB 3.0 and auxiliary ports
- 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, vibration, light bar with three color LEDs, mono speaker, micro USB port, stereo headset 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
What does it all mean? Looking at the existing PlayStation 3, it's immediately clear that Sony's playing to its strengths while trying to address some of its former weaknesses.
At launch, critics slammed Sony for charging upwards of $500 for the PS3, arguing that it had too many features. HDMI, Wi-Fi and optical audio didn't come standard on the Xbox 360 at launch, but they all proved important over the years. Meanwhile, the fast XDR memory of the PlayStation 3 came in handy, but there was far too little at 256MB. Here, Sony's seeking to maintain the speed with GDDR5, but ups the capacity to a generous 8GB. Similarly, gamers ended up appreciating the PS3's built-in hard drive when they started downloading games or installing them, but the first-generation 2x Blu-ray drive made that a painfully slow process.
The Microsoft Kinect took the world by storm at its debut, and not just because of the 3D depth camera: the always-on microphone array allowed a Kinect-equipped Xbox 360 to recognize voice commands. Now, with the PlayStation 4 Eye, Sony will have both motion tracking and voice recognition hardware at its disposal, but also higher resolution and a much larger field of view. While the Kinect can only fit two people in its sweet spot, and has difficulty tracking them at times, the PlayStation 4 Eye could do more... theoretically, anyhow.
Sony's playing to its strengths while trying to address some former weaknesses
Last but not least, there's that custom AMD processor to discuss, and here's where we need to be extremely careful about jumping to conclusions: with a custom design, there's no telling exactly how powerful the processor might be, or how much developers might get out of it. Still, we can draw a few parallels: we actually saw a quad-core Jaguar processor at CES, inside AMD's Temash reference design. Contrary to what you might believe, Jaguar actually isn't a beefy CPU; AMD's selling the tiny cores in chips designed for low-end laptops and tablets. And yet, with floating-point performance of 1.84 teraflops and a next-gen Radeon architecture, the GPU will likely have more power than a 1.76 teraflop AMD Radeon HD 7850, a mid-range graphics card for gaming computers.