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November 8th, 2011

What’s in store for the PS4?

Sony Playstation 4 PS4 Next Gen Game Console

The idea of the PlayStation 4 excites me a lot. The possibilities it could bring to gameplay, graphics, connectivity, interaction, and integration makes me feel all giddy inside. Quite simply put the future cannot come soon enough. However, before we look forward at what might be in store, we must first look at what is going on now.

Although it may be hard for some to admit, Sony should be commended for all that they have done recently for the PlayStation brand. They brought back the quality and prestige that was synonymous with the PlayStation name that was missing when the third console first started out. It shows too as the PlayStation 3 is well on its way to overtaking the Xbox 360 and first party titles, like the absolutely fantastic Uncharted 3, are better than ever. However no better example can be shown of how Sony is on the right path than the PlayStation Vita.

The PlayStation Vita is the first console in Sony’s history where their key developers have a major say in how the console will turn out. They are listening to everyone, being thoughtful of every idea that is passed their way. This has lead to a system that not only has just about every feature you ever wanted, but is also a dream for developers to work with. Watch the video below to get a better understanding of this.


So let’s dive in to how this might translate for the PlayStation 4. We have already heard from various sources that the PlayStation 4 is starting into it’s real development, with an expected showing in 2013 with a possible late 2013 / earlier 2014 launch. Now to be perfectly honest we really don’t know what to expect so far, nothing has been released so far. So I am going to break down section by section the PlayStation 4’s possible direction, with a little bit of “I hope this makes it in there” approach.

The System

CPU: Sony has been continually praised for the Cell processor that was put into the PS3. The Cell processor has 1 PPE (main processor) clocked at 3.2 GHz along with 7 SPU’s (smaller processors). To put this in perspective, other processors like the Intel Pentium D were also premiering in 2005. CPU’s now a days, like the Core i7, are more than 20x faster and have also seen a dramatic increase in efficiency. Given that they will have a finalized CPU late in 2012, you can expect a similar jump over the CELL processor. Something else to consider is that while the Cell chip has been praised for its capabilities it has been very difficult for developers to unlock that potential. This could lead to Sony dropping the Cell and going with a more traditional CPU to help developers and to keep the cost down. Remember Sony invested around $1.13bn in the fabrication and development of Cell with IBM and Toshiba. Currently Sony is not in a position to do the same. Expect Sony to expand on the CELL Processor or to go with something more traditional in a 6 core setup.

GPU: This was the one area that Sony really dropped the ball with on the PlayStation 3. Wanting to make their own GPU and coming up short, they turned to Nvidia at the last second to provide their GPU. What Sony ended up getting for the black behemoth was an upgraded version of the 7800 chip. Again today’s graphics cards like the GTX 590 are more than 15x faster. Although the trend is going toward SLI’ing graphics cards the cost and heat dissipation associated with this will most likely lead Sony to stick with one chip. This doesn’t rule out having a chip with multiple cores like the mobile Tegra 4 which will feature 8 cores. Expect the GPU to be a design based off the new 600 series Kepler chips set to arrive in Q1 2012. It would also behoove Sony to stick with and partner with Nvidia early on to help ensure backwards compatibility with PS3 titles and PC unique features like PhysX makes it into PS4 titles. Not to mention how this will help out with the systems architecture.

RAM: Another serious issue of consoles this generation, Sony really needs to step it up here as well. The PS3 has 256 MB for system memory and 256 MB for graphics memory. Granted this RAM is a bit faster than normal memory of the time. This area has been one of largest complaints of developers this generation. RAM is needed in a lot of areas and if we are to expect more features, loseless audio formats for games (Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio), and some really nice high-res textures for all the polygons this system will be able to put out, this is the one area that Sony can’t afford to skimp on. This might be some wishful thinking, but I would like to see 4 GB system memory and 3 GB graphics memory, although 2gb for each sounds a little more realistic.

Optical Drive: Sony was right with sticking to their guns and putting Blu-Ray into the PlayStation 3, not only did this give purchasers a player to watch the new HD format, but it gave developers a lot of room to store their content for the game without making sacrifices. What did hurt Sony was the drive speed. This problem of getting data off the disk and onto the system, led to many mandatory installs to help alleviate this problem. If Sony is smart all they would need to do is put in a much faster BD-XL drive in the Playstation 4 instead of going with a new format. BD-XL can currently go up to 128 GB on quad layer discs which is already more than double of the current 50 GB cap. It should also be pointed out that it will still be some time before physical media is dumped altogether. The internet just isn’t fast enough yet and isn’t built up enough to support that kind of traffic, plus game sizes will likely increase. Sony should focus on the speed here.

Hard Drive: Unfortunately to keep the cost of the System down, don’t expect Sony to slap in a large SSD. What would be a great solution is a hybrid drive. 20 GB SSD and 500 GB normal SATA 3.1 drive (6.0 GB/s). This would allow the system’s OS and current game being played to take advantage of the SSD.

The Rest: Sony can coast here and be perfectly fine, in fact they should to keep the cost down. Sony will likely go with the new Bluetooth v2.1 spec for their controllers and peripherals. Two USB 3.0 slots, Wireless N, HDMI 1.4 (which can support 4k output and Ethernet), and a Gigabyte Ethernet Port should round the rest of the system out. Maybe they will through in a Thunderbolt port, but it would be unlikely. Also expect buses to be much faster between the CPU and GPU, as well as throughout the rest of the system.

Cost: When the console is released, The 600 series should already be close to a year old, RAM and SSD prices should continue to offer more value for the money, and Sony won’t make the same mistake they made when pricing the PS3. Expect the system to launch for around $450.

Performance: This is entirely speculation so take this with a grain of salt. It is said that Kratos in God of War 3 is made of about 30,000 polygons. Now if we were to take the trend we see in performance and times that by 20, mind you just one main character model, you get 600,000 polygons. That number exceeds the amount of polygons for Aki Ross (400,000 polygons) in CG animated movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Again lighting, like the ability to do real-time ray tracing, and textures will play an important part in how close we can get to something like that. I think it would be amazing if our real time games could match the graphics in that movie and it sounds like that capability is in reach.

What Else Is In Store

Revamped OS with missing functionality, like cross game chat (left out because there is not enough RAM in the PlayStation 3), is a bit on the obvious side. The PlayStation store will also likely see an overhaul, complete with some limited streaming games. Given that it is Sony, 3D will continue to be pushed. As far as input devices go this is where we could see some exciting new interactions. The DualShock will likely stay as the primary controller, unless if they had a small touchpad, this controller will probably see the least amount of revisions outside of possibly making some adjustments to the shoulder buttons, analog sticks, and general ergonomics. There are some patents floating around of a more in depth Kinect like features being built for the PS4. It shouldn’t come as a surprise since even that tech was pioneered by people like Dr. Richard Marks who works for Sony and 3DV before Micrsoft bought them out (video). However it is the Vita that has the real potential to open up some great possibilities. Sony already has what it needs in this device to offer a Wii U style of interaction using the Vita as a controller and they should take advantage of this. Also stated in their intent is the ability to continue or work toward your game and have it move between the PS3 and the Vita. So expect a greater level of interaction and cross platform play when the PS4 comes out. Also I doubt Sony will want to release a console long after the next Xbox system is out, they won’t allow the same head start this time.

Summary

All in all what is most important is for Sony to make a system that can capitalize on 1080p. While it didn’t really hurt them, they shouldn’t make this system go after 4k in the same regard the PS3 tried to go after 1080p; which is barely being able to do it. Let the PS5 tackle 4k and do it right. What excites me more than anything though is Sony seems much more prepared to make a proper system than when they put together the PS3. Honestly I am ready for a new console now. I would prefer to have something like this no later than at the beginning of 2013. Two years is too long to wait for another console. Maybe if we ask enough, we could have something next year, but I’m just being hopeful now. Again this is all speculation and only time will tell what is in store for our next generation consoles. In the meantime I would love to hear your ideas for a next generation console in the comments below. Who knows maybe Sony will implement your ideas.


About the Author

bradfordltaylor





4 Comments


  1. Dustin

    Interesting article..although its all speculation it seems pretty spot on. good read


  2. Dave

    Yeah i also agree that having ps4 being released sometime guring 2013 would be good for both the wait and alow sony to get a head start before the new xbox console comes.

    New things i think ps4 should have is

    in dashbord have a ‘news’ slot that automatic shows the latest videos of new games, stradigys and game footage of earning trophies like how Xbox 360 has in their dashbord of to allow all even lazy gamers to keep in foot of latest videos in the playstation network.

    On ps4 game controllers, what i would love to see is the analog sticks have what the Xbox 360 ones have that allows gamers to have their thumbs to be more comfortable with what your thumb stands on, I also would love to see the direction buttons be like how the PSP ones are like, they feel more nicer with glass feeling.

    New things for PS trophies

    when you earn a trophy, make the sound be like and similer how it sounds like on ps3,

    also when the trophy pops up, i would like to see something like a animation of either a playstation logo or trophy sparkling instead of how it shows on ps3, what i like on the Xbox that when achievement pops up, youll see 2 things,
    the full slot comes from tiny to small then to full size of showing the whole achievement and while the achievement is showing, theres a animation of the xbox logo that keeps showing then changing and showing again over until when the achievement exit the screen.

    Also if possible, everytime when you earn trophies and reached to next level it should show on your screen to let you know to both remind you and feel youve acomplished more.


  3. Nelson

    if possible…despite it being speculation…could you also possibly find out anything on ps4 controllers and accessories…thx


  4. shoeb

    great artical…….keep it up……



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