Is the Sony PlayStation 4 destined for a Christmas 2013 release date?
Sony has invited press to a New York City event on 20 February 2013. The company announced the event on Thursday 31 January, inviting us to “see the future,” linking to a PlayStation Meeting 2013 website with few details except the 20 February date and a time of 6 p.m. EST.
For PlayStation fans the important questions are; when will the PS4 hit the shelves? What sort of hardware will it pack? And will it even be called the PlayStation 4?
There have been rumours doing the rounds suggesting that Sony is calling the PS4 ‘Orbis’. This comes from a source speaking to Kotaku “who is not authorised to talk publicly about next-gen hardware but has shared correct information” with them before.
Assuming the Orbis name is in some way accurate, it’s still unclear whether the name is a codename like Durango or whether the console will literally be called the Sony PlayStation Orbis instead of the Sony PS4.
The name does make some kind of sense if you combine it with the word ‘Vitae’ (or Vita). Orbis Vitae translates from Latin as ‘circle of life’ and hints at some serious synergy between the PS4 and the PS Vita.
It could be a red herring, of course, but with the Vita already communicating fairly competently with the PS3, it seems highly likely that this will be the case. So what can we expect from the PlayStation 4?
PS4: Graphics and CPU power
The same source who revealed the PlayStation Orbis name to Kotaku also mentioned that the PS4 was penciled in as packing an AMD x64 CPU and 28nm AMD Southern Islands graphics power.
However, in November 2012, strong rumours have suggested that PS4 dev kits have been issued to developers packing an AMD A10 APU, between 8GB and 16GB of RAM, 256GB of storage and a Blu-ray drive.
The graphics part of the A10 APU is already quite dated, which is a big disappointment but not all that surprising.
Those chips aren’t even the best that AMD currently has to offer – so by the time the PS4 goes on sale it would be woefully lacking in power compared to the latest AMD tech, let alone the most advanced chips from Nvidia and Intel.
By 2014, Intel will be shipping 14nm – or possibly even tooling up for 11nm – CPUs and with that amount of transistors on a die, we’re talking serious performance and efficiency gains.
So it’s for this reason that we suspect – or hope – that current PS4 development kits may currently be using these AMD chips, but the final PS4 will most likely pack something a little more special. We would at least expect a Steamroller APU packing a newer graphics core.
Now, because a console is a closed platform, it’s possible for developers and engineers to squeeze more performance out of any given chip than would be possible in a PC which has a lot more redundancies to cater for.
So the PS4 will have decent graphics no matter what. But this is still very much last-generation tech we’re talking here.
And according to various rumours, Sony is attempting to get 4K gaming out the door with the PS4, along with full HD 1080p 3D gaming for the first time.
We don’t think it would even be possible to achieve this kind of output with the A10 APU unless some kind of multi-GPU set-up is being used – so it’s highly likely that Sony will pair the eventual APU with a low-end discrete graphics card to help things along.
Latest spec reports
The latest rumours suggest that the PS4 will have more computing power than the Xbox 720 while packing less RAM.
PS4 release date
Latest rumours suggest that the PS4 will launch in time for Christmas 2013, though Sony are remaining quiet on the issue. We have received strong hints from industry insiders that 2013 will be the year but nothing is confirmed and anything could yet happen.
One thing’s for sure: Sony is currently losing billions every year and badly needs the cash injection that would come from a new console.
VG247 is quoting an anonymous source (always a bad start to a rumour) as saying that Sony believes it is in a position to get the PS4 out of the door before the launch of Microsoft’s Xbox 720. The next Xbox is almost certain to hit the shelves in 2013 so maybe we expect them to arrive roughly together.
We remember, of course, how Microsoft managed to launch the 360 a full year before the PS3 went on sale and that enabled it to gain a huge headstart, despite all sorts of technical faults and expensive repair bills.
Meanwhile, Bethesda’s Todd Howard, game director for the blockbuster Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, says that gamers should not expect follow-ups to the PS3 and Xbox 360 until 2014, at the very earliest.
Speaking to PSM3 magazine, the Bethesda exec said that gamers were happy with the current generation of console tech and that he didn’t expect to see an Xbox 720 or a PS4 before 2014.
Further sources said in December 2014 that they also believe Autumn 2014 is a more realistic date, so we’re certainly not going to count any Turkeys this Christmas!
However, after that slap in the face reports began to surface that the PS4 would be unveiled in early 2013, at least. Games Informer suggested that both the PS4 and the Xbox 720 would be revealed to the world at separate events in March 2013, with release dates slated for late 2013.
When the original original PS3 unit shipped, it contained a chip that gave it the ability to play PS2 games. Subsequent iterations of hardware omitted this chip and so the backwards compatibility was condemned to death.
Current rumours suggests that the PS4 will completely ignore the possibility of backwards compatibility and focus firmly on the next generation. So if you want to continue playing your PS3 games, keep hold of your PS3s, kids.
Second hand games on the way out?
More rumours suggest that Sony is going in the same direction as Microsoft in that it wants to kill off the second hand games market. Current industry wisdom suggests that future PS4 games might be tied to your Sony Entertainment Network account and will thus then have no resale value. That’s a similar approach as used by PC developers using Steam so we reckon this is a likely development. Doesn’t mean we’re happy about it, though.
What are the PS4 features we’d most like to see?
PS4info dreams of a next-gen PlayStation with a 32nm Cell processor an up to 16 SPEs, double the number in the PlayStation 3. While over on gamrConnect, there’s talk of a greater partnership with Google. Sony’s new fondness for Android on the Xperia Play is an interesting strategy.
Blu-ray on the PlayStation 4 is a dead cert. While digital distribution is undoubtedly the way forward, not every PlayStation owner has access to a fast broadband connection.
As Kaz Hirai told Develop, “we do business in parts of the world where network infrastructure isn’t as robust as one would hope. There’s always going to be requirement for a business of our size and scope to have a physical medium.”
As for the PlayStation 4 controller, Dr. Richard Marks (Sony Computer Entertainment’s US R&D manager of special projects) says that “anything that lets us get the player’s intent into the system more” is technology they’ll be looking at.