Sony is shipping second generation PlayStation 4 kits to developers

By on November 2, 2012, 6:30 PM

We’ve heard a ton of talk about Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox 720 over the last year or so but surprisingly, there hasn’t been hardly any chatter to speak of with regards to Sony’s next generation console. That of course doesn’t mean the Japanese electronics giant hasn’t been hard at working designing hardware and software for the PlayStation 4.

A recent report from VG24/7 claims that Sony is now sending second generation development kits, codenamed Orbis, to select game studios. The hardware is contained inside of a typical PC chassis, a huge step over the first generation kit that was little more than a graphics card. A third revision is expected to land in developers’ hands sometime in January before the finished product arrives next summer.

Speaking of graphics, Orbis is said to be powered by a modified AMD A10 APU which as you know, combines the CPU and GPU into a single unit. The console is expected to have either 8GB or 16GB of RAM when it ships to customers, an optical drive capable of Blu-ray playback as well as a 256GB hard drive. Wi-Fi, Ethernet connectivity and HDMI-out will all come standard.

Sources claim the ultimate goal of the PS4 is to be able to produce 3D gaming at 60FPS / 1080p resolution.

We’re also hearing that the console could be announced before E3 next year. That event is scheduled to start on June 11, 2013 which is leading some to believe Sony might unveil it at PAX East on March 22.




User Comments: 29

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ikesmasher said:

Trinity chip is a great approach for a console, looking foward to see how they push it when they can design games for static hardware.

RzmmDX said:

As long as it has full backwards compatibility for PS3 games.

m4a4 m4a4 said:

If they can make it easier for the developers, then good for them...

killeriii said:

As long as it has full backwards compatibility for PS3 games.

PS2 and PS1 would be nice too!

RzmmDX said:

PS2 and PS1 would be nice too!

I was on that bandwagon once, but damn do I need trophies.

Littleczr Littleczr said:

Good news if you ask me. I don't like consoles but it means we will get equal graphics on PC.

Guest said:

I hope there is at least 4xAA to go with the 1080p+60fps. Looking forward to more news on this!

Renrew Renrew said:

IMO--256 GB harddrive too small at least a 500 gb or 1 TB

Novulux said:

SSD maybe? One can only hope.

Guest said:

For those who believe there will be backward compatibility... I very much doubt it.

Thye removed it from the PS3 pretending it was due to vulnerabilities, or at least that was one of the excuses I read.

But it is simply that if they remove it, they can push games on the PSN for £2 - £10 a pop. And you won't have a choice if you really really really want to play one of them games. It's all about the money.

Matt12345170 Matt12345170 said:

For those who believe there will be backward compatibility... I very much doubt it.

Thye removed it from the PS3 pretending it was due to vulnerabilities, or at least that was one of the excuses I read.

But it is simply that if they remove it, they can push games on the PSN for £2 - £10 a pop. And you won't have a choice if you really really really want to play one of them games. It's all about the money.

Well, I wouldn't say you don't have a choice, I still have both my PS1 and PS2 from when I was a kid, they still get use. I'm sure if you head to your local flee market you could pick one up for fairly cheap!

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

Hopefully they don't advertise something and eventually remove it :P

Sarcasm Sarcasm said:

IMO--256 GB harddrive too small at least a 500 gb or 1 TB

Could be an SSD.

This one move could alleviate any loading issues for games as we know it just as long as they design the hardware to utilize the fast I/O speeds.

As for the CPU, I don't think its going to get PS3 B/C. Why? Its no longer a Cell chip and they probably will still sell the PS3.

gobbybobby said:

As long as it has full backwards compatibility for PS3 games.

I don't think there will be, the hardware in the PS3 compared to the PS4 is quite different, it might not be able to emulate the PS3 to a level that makes playing full PS3 games a possibility. Lets hope the best PS3 games get ported over to the PS4, like alot of PS2 titles have been.

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

Sounds a bit like the wii. Compatibility for wii games, but gc games are probably downloadable, and have to be bought again I believe.

veLa veLa said:

Backwards comparability is a big deal. I hope Sony realizes that and doesn't release a dud.

Blue Falcon said:

BC should be scrapped.

- It would make the console more expensive if BC is hardware based (exact reason why it was removed in later versions of PS3, some studied sighted the BC cost to be $80-100 per each "fat" PS3 sold). During a time when launching a console at a competitive price is a lot more critical for its success given the state of the global economy, this would be counter to realizing the affordability factor

- It would remove the ability for Sony to make $ via HD-remakes of classic PS3 games (Let's face it if you haven't owned a PS3, you'd rather buy real 1080P remakes of Uncharted, God of War and Dark Souls, rather than buy upscaled PS3 games for your PS4). Sony needs this revenue stream given the current financial situation of the firm

- BC has not really worked well even for Xbox 360 or PS3. The best way to guarantee BC is to keep your current console.

- BC would be very difficult to do well, only piling on unnecessary costs to Sony. That $ saved on not getting BC working could instead be used for a larger SSD/flash storage, or a cheaper console

- People who are spending $400+ on a next generation console aren't buying it to play PS3 games. For that they can buy a cheap PS3 in 2013/2014. Current PS3 owners aren't forced to sell their PS3.

--------------------

As far as the APU goes, the current A10 design is barely 2x faster than the ~7900GT GPU in PS3. I think it will be a custom-based A10 CPU + GPU with a lot more cores than 384. Alternatively, I can see APU being used with a low-end discrete GPU for a possible hybrid cross-fire. A10-5700/5800 on their own are not sufficient to play next generation games at 1080P at 60 fps on their own, even if taking into account specific console optimizations.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

As far as the APU goes, the current A10 design is barely 2x faster than the ~7900GT GPU in PS3. I think it will be a custom-based A10 CPU + GPU with a lot more cores than 384.

I think you're right. Also a major limitation on most low end cards (and certainly integrated ones) is memory bandwidth, and consoles usually don't have that problem. A little embedded RAM, a 256 bit memory interface, and things would look much better even for integrated graphics.

killeriii said:

BC should be scrapped.

- It would make the console more expensive if BC is hardware based

- Was software based for the PS2. Don't know why they couldn't do that for the PS3 too. As well as the PS4 when it comes out.

- Lazy programmers maybe?

- BC has not really worked well even for Xbox 360 or PS3. The best way to guarantee BC is to keep your current console.

- BC worked great on both my PS2 and PS3.

- In Fact, the first 60GB PS3 had a FULL PS2 soldered to the motherboard. They later learned to emulate most of it.

- People who are spending $400+ on a next generation console aren't buying it to play PS3 games.

- That's not true. And I don't want 4 systems hooked up at a time.

- Also, old systems wear out and can't be purchased in new condition anymore.

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The only time I ever used the BC on my lauch PS3 was when I first purchased it, because obviously I didn't have too many games for it, eventually I stopped using the feature with the exception of a couple games. Then my PS3 YLOD on me and I had to get a slim one which makes less noise, uses less power and... has less usb ports and no card reader. This is what pissed me off more than anything, because it was handy to able to charge 4 controllers at once, or pop in a sd card from a camera to view pictures. I just dug out my PS2 for the two games that I want to play on it, because it still hasn't died and because it was built back in the days before the obligation to use pos solder that breaks from repeated heat cycles... it will probably last longer than my 2nd PS3.

danhodge danhodge said:

8gb or 16gb? Aren't current consoles managing with 1gb? :'

16 would be major overkill...

Blue Falcon said:

Killeriii,

"- In Fact, the first 60GB PS3 had a FULL PS2 soldered to the motherboard. They later learned to emulate most of it."

PS3 Slim is not BC with PS2 games. What do you mean later learned to emulate most of it? Less than 24 hours after its announcement the PS3 Slim took the number-one bestseller spot on Amazon.com in the video games section for fifteen consecutive days. What made it so successful? Dramatic price drop.

Playstation 1 - $299

Playstation 2 - $299

Playstation 3 - $499-599 (Huge failure in the beginning)

That's exactly why this is a bad idea- it will raise price for PS4 for all gamers, those who want BC and those who don't care. If Sony wants to make their console attractive, they'd be better off increase the specs, or lowering the price, and worry about BC last.

"That's not true. And I don't want 4 systems hooked up at a time."

So millions of consumers who would rather choose a cheaper console with no BC should share the financial burden of a higher console for the small minority who want BC because some people still play PS1, PS2, PS3 games? This time BC is not as easy as emulating it since AMD CPU is x86 and the Cell CPU doesn't even run that code.

Guest said:

Hell I don't even have time to play current gen games and you guys are talking backwards compatibility?

killeriii said:

PS3 Slim is not BC with PS2 games. What do you mean later learned to emulate most of it?

this is a bad idea- it will raise price for PS4 for all gamers, those who want BC and those who don't care.

1st Gen. PS3's were 20GB and 60GB phat models. Had full PS2 compatibility (hardware).

2nd Gen. PS3's were 40GB and 80GB phat models. 80GB had 90% PS2 compatibility (partial hardware emulation). 40GB had none.

3rd Gen. PS3's were also 40GB and 80GB phat models. Neither had PS2 compatibility.

It didn't drop the price with the omission of BC.

1st Gen. were the ONLY models that had the full PS2 chipset in it.

So, 2nd Gen., consumers had the CHOICE to buy BC or not. At not much if any extra cost. (bigger HD and more usb ports always added $100)

BC had already been taken out for a full generation before the slim models came out.

The price drop for the slim models came from reduced manufacturing costs in general.

This time BC is not as easy as emulating it since AMD CPU is x86 and the Cell CPU doesn't even run that code.

Agreed, that is Sony's dumb mistake. But, they could still offer PS1 and PS2 emulation for free.

And, possibly, a more expensive version that does PS3 BC.

Blue Falcon said:

killeriii,

I don't think you understood my posts. Initially Sony didn't drop the price on PS3 because they were losing $ on each one sold. Each PS3 cost them between $800-900 to make. They later dropped PS2 BC entirely, first hardware based, then software, which reduced the cost of manufacturing the PS3, including the Slim. This is a fact that it costs money to implement BC:

[link]

To ensure BC with the Cell, it would mean either including physical hardware of the Cell or spending millions of dollars on trying to emulate it in software. Either of these options would drive the cost of PS4 (especially the 1st option). The outcome would be either higher costs to Sony, or they would pass on those costs to us via higher price for PS4. Since Sony is losing $ hand over fist, it's likely they would pass on the costs on to us. But based on how well PS3 Slim and all other PS3's without BC sold, it's clear consumers prefer lower price over BC and higher price.

Secondly, you say Sony is dumb to have switched to x86 CPU design but it was the Cell that was a terrible mistake - it was costly, hard to program for and terribly underpowered without years and years of optimizations. By going with an x86 CPU, Sony will achieve all 3 things at once:

1) Cheaper CPU (AMD's APUs cost $100-125 in retail, which means Sony can get it way less directly)

2) Faster CPU (while AMD's CPUs can't hold a candle to Intel, they are still far superior to IBM's PowerPC or Cell architectures for games)

3) Ability to easily port x86 PC games to the console and ease the life of programmers/developers by using common PC components.

The main question mark is will there be a separate dedicated GPU along that APU, and if yes, what is it?

The decision to move away from the Cell to x86 is a good one even if it means losing BC. If you still want to play PS1/2/3 games, why would you be buying a $400+ PS4 in the first place? BC has become this entitlement that wasn't there. NES --> SNES --> N64 for example.

If PS4 doesn't have BC, what's the option? Going with an Xbox or Wii U and getting no PS1,2,3 BC anyway. That's why BC is not a big deal. If PS4 doesn't have it, people will still buy PS4. If PS4 has it, it means millions of dollars (I.e., losses to Sony) or higher price for us consumers.

killeriii said:

Secondly, you say Sony is dumb to have switched to x86 CPU design.

No, actually, I meant it was dumb to go to a cell and then to an x86. But I think dedicated hardware should be the path they take, not this generic x86 crap. I have a computer for that. I miss the days when a console was unique in hardware design. You'd think with 7 years for design, they'd have something better on the table.

And, No, I don't think BC is mandatory. But, it should be an option for longstanding customers. All disc players burn out sooner or later. NES-SNES-N64 systems can last forever. I know, I have them and they work as good as the day they were made.

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

BC might not be a lost hope yet. Sony is actually looking to have the PS2 Emulation Debug Engineer position filled

Source: [link]

Sunny87 said:

killeriii,

2) Faster CPU (while AMD's CPUs can't hold a candle to Intel, they are still far superior to IBM's

While I don't entirely disagree with you, I don't agree with your second opinion, this is a highly debatable subject the PPC structure on a video games console is highly efficient with it's out of order instruction processing that is very good for gaming and longevity on a console, I agree the CELL CPU is absolute marketing garbage and is an god awful CPU, but PPC in general is very very good for gaming, the x64/x84 is great for PC development because of the OS behind it, also worth noting that if the stock PS4 has anything over 3GB of RAM then it's an x64 platform and not a x86 platform.

PPC has always been known for it's ability to out perform the equivalent intel/AMD CPU, and seeing as all hardware companies are not going to be forking out for i7's I think we can safely say that the PPC consoles will out perform the x64 PS4 at least in CPU performance as the A10 is still a budget end build for a gaming PC (let's hope for developer optimisation).

Also what happened to the PS4's 10 year shelf life before the next system is released? By my estimates the PS4 should not be released for another 3 years according to Sony.

Guest said:

8gb or 16gb? Aren't current consoles managing with 1gb? :')

16 would be major overkill...

No it wouldn't be overkill. The PS3 in very limited by it's small amount of memory. It basically has zero multitasking capabilities. The in-game XMB is basically useless because you can't do two things on the PS3 at the same time. It also causes framerate problems on some games and makes some games unable to be played in full 1080p resolution. Low memory is the reason why things like cross-game chat aren't possible on the PS3. Sony likes it's consoles to have a life span of at least ten years. The amount of memory they put in the PS3 was very short-sighted considering that most basic computers had more memory in 2006 than the PS3 which is expected to play HD games and be on the market for a decade or more. 16GB really isn't that outrageous for a powerful HD gaming multimedia device like the PS4 which is expected to be around for 10 or more years. Plus, memory is relatively inexpensive so there's no reason to cut corners.

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