Sony announced the Playstation 4 and the DualShock 4 controller at a New York event Wednesday.
“Today marks a moment of truth and a bold step forward for PlayStation,” Andrew House, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, said to the crowd. “ [This console] represents a significant shift of thinking of PlayStation as merely a box or console to thinking as a leading authority on play.”
Unveiled by Mark Cerny, the lead system architect on the Playstation 4, the console is based on PC architecture with an x86 processor, an APU, and 8GB of GDDR5 unified memory. The console will have 8 cores, with an additional low-power core for background tasks when the system is being used or turned off (similar to Tegra’s +1 core die layout).
In a press release sent out Wednesday night, Sony confirmed more technical details about the silicon inside the console: its got a 8-core 64-bit x86 “Jaguar” CPU developed by AMD, an 1.84 TFLOPS, AMD next-generation Radeon based GPU, USB 3.0, and gigabit Ethernet.
At AMD’s analyst day in January 2012, AMD Chief Financial Officer identified gaming as one of several trends that will drive revenue growth at the company that year.
The console’s controller is called the DualShock 4, and features a PS Vita style touchpad, and a light bar to identify individual players. These controllers will be tracked via the lightbars and a 3D camera.
This 3D camera, trying to build upon the success of the Kinect, will feature with two 1280 x 800 lenses, f/2.0 fixed focus lenses, 85-degree field of view, 30cm minimum focusing distance, and a four-channel microphone array.
Sony says the console will be able to boot instantly, and players can suspend or resume play just by pressing the power button.
Games bought through Sony’s store will have demos attached to them that can be played instantly. As the games are being downloaded, users can begin playing.
It’s clear that a great deal of effort has gone into making social gaming a large part of the Playstation 4 experience. Users can easily share video from their games, spectate on pro-league games, or have close co-operative play with friends.
Gaming in the cloud
As Sony has acquired cloud gaming service Gaikai, naturally Gaikai had a big presence at the launch. The company’s co-founder and CEO Dave Perry was on stage to talk about Gaikai’s sizable contributions to the Playstation 4’s cloud gaming capabilities.
One of the highlight’s of Gaikai’s portion of the presentation was the announcement that users will be able to stream Playstation 4 games to their PS Vita via the cloud.
Onstage, an upcoming Playstation 4 title called Knack was streamed from a console to a PS Vita. The gameplay was smooth and responsive, much like the cloud gaming demo at the NVIDIA GPU Technology conference. In many ways, NVIDIA’s Project Shield just met its most fierce competitor.
Gaikai’s David Perry did bring some bad news to those gathered: the PS4 won’t be backwards compatible with legacy Playstation 3 and 2 titles. In the future Gaikai hopes to offer the ability for gamers to stream these titles to their console via the cloud.
Mr. Perry also hinted that his company was working on an app for iOS and Android that would allow the user’s smartphone to be a companion device during gameplay.
Althought Sony and its partners revealed a lot of information about the console at the launch event, one thing was missing – the console hardware itself.
“Announce a console without showing the console itself? That’s one approach,” tweeted Microsoft’s Larry Hyrb, director of programming for Microsoft’s gaming network.