The rumour mill has been working overtime this week with snippets of information regarding the next generation Playstation and Xbox whirling through the electronic ether. While an official release date for both consoles is still to be announced the event to announce the release date has firmed up along with technical specifications.
Both consoles are due for release in the second half of this year (2013) with hardware produced by AMD. While they will use the same supplier they have both taken very different approaches. This time around the roles have been reversed, Sony’s PS4 will be very PC like internally (think original Xbox) while Microsoft has a radical dual APU design up its sleeve.
Sony is using a more traditional design approach to their next generation console, a powerful CPU as well as a powerful GPU, both with their own RAM, makes for a powerful gaming machine. PC’s have lived by this rule for 30 years.
Internally the PS4 will house a fast 8-core CPU and high end GPU (8000 series) with its own GDDR5 memory (4GB), the PS4 won’t be short on horsepower. System RAM will be either 4GB or 8GB of DDR3 memory. Rounding out the feature list is an optical drive, 256GB hard drive, WiFi, Ethernet and HDMI.
Hiroshi Sakamoto (Sony vice president) during an interview with website EOT let slip that the next generation is close, Sony is working hard to bring it to market ASAP. The release announcement is expected in May with hardware on show at E3 in June. This may add weight to the idea that Sony has simplified its hardware design (desires) in order to beat Microsoft to the punch.
Also interesting is the possibility that Sony may name the next generation Playstation Omni, which has now joined Orbis in the name candidate list.
The Xbox has by far the most exotic hardware line-up of any console in years. At the heart of the 720 will be two AMD APU’s, a dual processor configuration that also includes a dual GPU setup. Each of the APU’s will include 1.5GB of GDDR memory while the system will include 8GB of DDR3 RAM, with 1GB fenced off for the operating system exclusively.
The Mars SOC (System on a Chip) will include an 8850 spec GPU running at 600Mhz along with a quad core CPU running at 1.6GHz. Mars will most likely be the secondary processor in the hierarchy. The main processor will be the Venus SOC that will include an 8900 spec GPU clocked at 800MHz paired with a quad core CPU clocked at 2,5GHz. On paper a very powerful combination.
The approach taken by Microsoft is a far more complex design than the PS4, will this effect the delivery date? Only time will tell.
The battle of the next generation consoles will not be a battle of horse power. While many commentators are convinced that there will be a huge discrepancy between the PS4 and Xbox 720 they are incorrect. The underlying hardware for both will be essentially equal, the battle will be down to software.
Microsoft will be using a modified version of Windows 8 for the 720, this will break compatibility with the 360 but it should speed up development time, for both Microsoft and game developers who will love the fact that they can use the same code across PC and Xbox. Game availability is the other missing piece of the software puzzle, the Xbox has always done well with game releases, having Windows 8 at its heart will improve the number of games released even more.
Very little is known about the software for the PS4. Here at Highpants we would like to give a prize to the first person to run the PS4 OS on a desktop PC, but we are far too cheap. It is very likely that Sony will use a Linux code base with their own customizations overlaid. It may not be the first Linux console with the Steam Box on the horizon.
Hardware designs have been completed and delivered to developers, marketing departments are planning strategies while somewhere in the world two nondescript factories are about to start churning out the next generation consoles. In a gaming mad world too much gaming is never enough, Sony and Microsoft hope so at the very least.