Sony just announced the PlayStation 4, along with some high level system specifications. The high level specs are what we've heard for quite some time:

  • 8-core x86-64 CPU using AMD Jaguar cores (built by AMD)
  • High-end PC GPU (also built by AMD), delivering 1.84TFLOPS of performance
  • Unified 8GB of GDDR5 memory for use by both the CPU and GPU with 176GB/s of memory bandwidth
  • Large local hard drive

Details of the CPU aren't known at this point (8-cores could imply a Piledriver derived architecture, or 8 smaller Jaguar cores—the latter being more likely), but either way this will be a big step forward over the PowerPC based general purpose cores on Cell from the previous generation. I wouldn't be too put off by the lack of Intel silicon here, it's still a lot faster than what we had before and at this level price matters more than peak performance. The Intel performance advantage would have to be much larger to dramatically impact console performance. If we're talking about Jaguar cores, then there's a bigger concern long term from a single threaded performance standpoint.

Update: I've confirmed that there are 8 Jaguar based AMD CPU cores inside the PS4's APU. The CPU + GPU are on a single die. Jaguar will still likely have better performance than the PS3/Xbox 360's PowerPC cores, and it should be faster than anything ARM based out today, but there's not huge headroom going forward. While I'm happier with Sony's (and MS') CPU selection this time around, I always hoped someone would take CPU performance in a console a bit more seriously. Given the choice between spending transistors on the CPU vs. GPU, I understand that the GPU wins every time in a console—I'm just always an advocate for wanting more of both. I realize I never wrote up a piece on AMD's Jaguar architecture, so I'll likely be doing that in the not too distant future. Update: I did.

The choice of 8 cores is somewhat unique. Jaguar's default compute unit is a quad-core machine with a large shared L2 cache, it's likely that AMD placed two of these together for the PlayStation 4. The last generation of consoles saw a march towards heavily threaded machines, so it's no surprise that AMD/Sony want to continue the trend here. Clock speed is unknown, but Jaguar was good for a mild increase over its predecessor Bobcat. Given the large monolithic die, AMD and Sony may not have wanted to push frequency as high as possible in order to keep yields up and power down. While I still expect CPU performance to move forward in this generation of consoles, I was reminded of the fact that the PowerPC cores in the previous generation ran at very high frequencies. The IPC gains afforded by Jaguar have to be significant in order to make up for what will likely be a lower clock speed.

We don't know specifics of the GPU, but with it approaching 2 TFLOPS we're looking at a level of performance somewhere between a Radeon HD 7850 and 7870. Update: Sony has confirmed the actual performance of the PlayStation 4's GPU as 1.84 TFLOPS. Sony claims the GPU features 18 compute units, which if this is GCN based we'd be looking at 1152 SPs and 72 texture units. It's unclear how custom the GPU is however, so we'll have to wait for additional information to really know for sure. The highest end PC GPUs are already faster than this, but the PS4's GPU is a lot faster than the PS3's RSX which was derived from NVIDIA's G70 architecture (used in the GeForce 7800 GTX, for example). I'm quite pleased with the promised level of GPU performance with the PS4. There are obvious power and cost constraints that would keep AMD/Sony from going even higher here, but this should be a good leap forward from current gen consoles.

Outfitting the PS4 with 8GB of RAM will be great for developers, and using high-speed GDDR5 will help ensure the GPU isn't bandwidth starved. Sony promised around 176GB/s of memory bandwidth for the PS4. The lack of solid state storage isn't surprising. Hard drives still offer a dramatic advantage in cost per GB vs. an SSD. Now if it's user replaceable with an SSD that would be a nice compromise.

Leveraging Gaikai's cloud gaming technology, the PS4 will be able to act as a game server and stream the video output to a PS Vita, wirelessly. This sounds a lot like what NVIDIA is doing with Project Shield and your NVIDIA powered gaming PC. Sony referenced dedicated video encode/decode hardware that allows you to instantaneously record and share screenshots/video of gameplay. I suspect this same hardware is used in streaming your game to a PS Vita.

Backwards compatibility with PS3 games isn't guaranteed and instead will leverage cloud gaming to stream older content to the box. There's some sort of a dedicated background processor that handles uploads and downloads, and even handles updates in the background while the system is off. The PS4 also supports instant suspend/resume.

The new box heavily leverages PC hardware, which is something we're expecting from the next Xbox as well. It's interesting that this is effectively how Microsoft entered the console space back in 2001 with the original Xbox, and now both Sony and MS have returned to that philosophy with their next gen consoles in 2013. The PlayStation 4 will be available this holiday season.

I'm trying to get more details on the CPU and GPU architectures and will update as soon as I have more info.

Source: Ustream

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  • coffeetable - Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - link

    4Gb is all a gaming PC needs right now because the vast majority of AAA releases have been pegged for consoles with their paltry 512Mb. Now that devs have 8Gb to play with, you better believe that 8Gb will be bog-standard by the end 2015.

    The fact that the PS4 has 8Gb of graphics memory to play with is going to have an interesting effect on PC graphics cards too.
  • poohbear - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    was gonna say the same but u beat me to it. now that they've passed the 4gb/64bit mark, 8gb is gonna be paltry by 2015-16. by then most systems should have 64gb RAM (heck i have 16GB ram now, and i upgraded to that in 2012.... it only cost me $70!)
  • sohcermind - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    16GB of RAM is pointless for gaming.
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    4Gb = 512MB

    The capital B is bytes, lowercase b is bits..
  • sohcermind - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    4GB RAM is enough for PC exclusives too don't kid yourself plus PCs use a ton of ram in background tasks which consoles don't need.
  • TheSlamma - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    Always surprises me when people forget about how tech has exponential growth. Seriously TEN YEARS? PC already has texture packs that demand over 1GB of video ram let alone system RAM and as 1 guy said, it's mainly due to the porting from the current rag consoles that have been outdated since 2 years before their release.
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    Well, the 8GB RAM is unified between CPU and GPU. Current gamer PCs have at least 4GB for the CPU and another 2GB for the GPU. The high end ones would be sitting at 8+3GB and more.
  • IAmRandom301982 - Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - link

    Current PC's have 4GB of DDR3 for the CPU, and another 2GB of DDR5 for the GPU.

    They do not share though. So the GPU only has 2GB to work with, while the CPU only has 4GB of slower ram to work with.

    The PS4 will be 8GB of unified RAM. So if a developer makes a game and the CPU only needs 1GB of DDR5 for its tasks, then the GPU can access the rest of the 6.5GB of DDR5 or so that the OS is not using in the background.
  • Stuka87 - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    4Gb is *NOT* enough for any current games. Most games I play will easily consume 4GB of RAM. Then once you add windows and such, we are far over that.
  • Stuka87 - Thursday, February 21, 2013 - link

    That first 4Gb should be 4GB.

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