The Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One are the main contenders in the next generation games console battle. With both machines due to launch in late 2013, Sony has now unveiled the full technical specifications of its latest console. In this first of a two-part series we take a comprehensive look at the PS4's technical details.
Processor (Main and Graphics)
At the heart of any console is the processor. The PS4 will use a unit manufactured by AMD that is based on a not-yet-released PC product, codenamed Jaguar. The CPU (short for central processing unit) will feature eight low-power cores and will work in conjunction with the Radeon based graphics processing unit, or GPU. The GPU features 18 computing units, each running at 800MHz which, combined with the CPU, provides the PS4 with 1.84 TFLOPS of computing power.
RAM (Ramdom Access Memory)
One of the standout numbers on the PlayStation 4's specification sheet is its 8GB of GDDR5 RAM. This high-end memory is expensive and is rarely used in this quantity, even in high end PC graphics cards that on their own can cost as much as the PS4 is likely to cost. This makes it all the more impressive that it is included in the PS4. The inclusion of this level of RAM as standard is likely to future proof the console to a certain extent.
It remains to be seen how much of the RAM is required by the PS4 operating system. Based on experience of current generation consoles and high end gaming PC's, we would expect a maximum of 1GB to be required for this purpose, thus leaving a substantial amount free for PS4 game playing duties.
Internal storage comes in the form of a 500GB 2.5-inch SATA conventional mechanical hard drive, quite an increase from that of the PlayStation 3 which only had a 20GB hard drive on launch. It must be said though that the PS3 has gone through several versions since it was first introduced in 2006 and the latest super slim models come which hard drives ranging from 250GB to 500GB.
A plus point for the PS4 is that the hard drive is user removable and upgradeable, thus allowing larger capacity mechanical hard drives to be installed. The current largest 2.5″ hard drive available is 2TB or 2000GB (four times the size of the standard drive) so assuming the operating system of the console allows it, the storage capacity of the system can be greatly expanded. There is also the possibility of installing an SSD or solid state drive in the PS4. Whilst capacities are lower than standard hard drives, access and data transfer speeds are much faster.
The Sony PS4 will use an integrated 6x CAV Blu-ray drive with a maximum read speed of 27 MB/s. This compares favourably with the PS3's 2x speed Blu-ray unit that was capped at just 9MB/s. Set free of the PS3's throughput restrictions, the PS4 will be noticeably faster at disc to hard drive data transfer and will make initial game set up much quicker, even taking into account the expected larger files sizes of the new generation games.
The drive will read and play Blu-ray discs, DVD's and CD's, although it is unlikely to be capable of reading the new quad-layer 100 GB capacity Blu-ray discs that are designed to support 4k resolutions. This is unlikely to be an issue as it is doubtful that the PS4 will support 4k output.
This concludes the first part of our look at the PS4's technical specification. In the second part we deal with the video and sound output, connectivity, the new DualShock 4 controller and the accessories available for the next generation console.