PlayStation 4 Hardware
Slides - lots of promises, little infromation.
As everyone has already expected, Sony’s event in New York was about the new PlayStation 4. Looking at it from the PC side, it’s interesting to see what multiplatform games will target in the future. Sony Computer Entertainment President Andrew House called PS4 architecture very PC-like, but supercharged. Well, never expect full and true details from advertisers, better look at the spec sheet from conference published at Ars Technica.
Single-chip custom processor
CPU : x86-64 AMD "Jaguar", 8 cores
GPU : 1.84 TFLOPS, AMD next-generation Radeon based graphics engine
GDDR5 8GB (176 GBps bandwidth)
Hard Disk Drive
Optical Drive (read only)
Super-Speed USB (USB 3.0) , AUX
Communication Ethernet (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T)
IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 2.1 (EDR)
Digital Output (optical)
There are some things we can say looking at those specs. AMD “Jaguar” is a new architecture for low power CPUs in mobile devices. Overall each Jaguar core is expected to be 15% better than previous AMD Bobcat architecture with additional power increase in floating point calculations. The use of 8 cores isn’t a standard usage, clock isn’t known yet (it is usually below 2 GHz on such CPUs), but it’s likely not to be large. Overall, it looks like multiplatform games will need to have a decent x86 multi-core support (hopefully without another failure to set correct compiler settings, like Skyrim).
Rumors circulating before the announcement said that the PS4 GPU would have 18 “Southern Islands” Compute Units. The 1.84 TFLOPS theoretical performance figure suggests that those rumours were correct and the PS4 GPU is based on Radeon HD 7850 with a bit more cores. GPU and CPU will be housed together at the same die and share fast access to 8 GB GDDR5. Such a combination puts the PS4 APU (CPU + GPU combo on the same die) ahead in capabilities compared to PC APUs and may allow some graphical tricks that would be harder or more performance expensive to pull on PC dedicated GPUs. Amount and bandwidth of memory that can be allocated to the GPU is more than enough to avoid memory bottleneck. Overall, it’s still unlikely that it will beat current PC high-end (GTX 680, HD 7970) in games performance, unless developers do a really sloppy optimisation of PC versions.
Graphical power of PlayStation 4 - overclocked HD 7850.
Other parts are quite usual and expected for a multi-purpose multimedia device. 6x Blu-Ray player will provide a decent speed, but as the PS4 will support games with better graphical assets, that speed-up will provide faster installs rather that more widespread play straight from the disk. The capacities of default HDDs aren’t known yet, as well as the state of SSD support (connection speed, special commands). The new PlayStation 4 Eye 3D camera uses special AUX cable, so it won’t be as easy to connect it to PC as Kinect was.
So we’re looking at a decent hardware upgrade compared to previous console generation, more generous amounts of RAM and very PC-like architecture. With all that, we should expect much better looking multiplatform games on PC, and a longer time before console RAM limitations force them to cut gameplay possibilities. Now we wait for the details of the next Xbox to be sure about what the next generation of consoles will bring.