PlayStation 4 Gets A Closer Look At GDC

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Steve Anderson
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PlayStation 4 Gets A Closer Look At GDC

With the 2013 Game Developers Conference in full swing, this was all the opportunity Sony needed to bring out some fresh information regarding the technical loadout involved in its new system. So how will it stack up? The early word is looking pretty good.

First, the word delivered by Sony Senior Staff Engineer Chris Norden took a look at the chips. First on the slate was the 64 bit x86 chip, with the eight cores. That sounds like good news, of course, but as it turns out there's more than just good core news. Indeed, the chip will run with lower power consumption and at lower temperatures, increasing the system's overall durability.  Thanks to the overall chip design, the processor will now be able to handle a host of extra functions like atomics, fibers, and even threads.

Plus, thanks to what Sony is reportedly referring to as an "extended DirectX 11.1+ feature set", Sony is able to put even more into the PlayStation 4, allowing direct access to the shader pipeline, which in turn allows for more and more different kinds of things to be done to the overall video. The system can even now reportedly run graphics and computational code at the same time which allows for smoother video and the like.

Even the Blu-ray drive built in will get an upgrade, with the PlayStation 4's drive being fully three times faster than the PlayStation 3's version.

The DualShock 4 also got something of an upgrade, going to digital face buttons to reduce latency--making the controller faster to respond to input commands--and a kind of distributed motor system to generate force feedback that allows for more precision in the yielded effects.

Rounding out the reports was word that the Eye camera got something of an upgrade too, offering up a sound 1280 x 800 resolution at 60 Hz. Better yet, the dimensions can be halved to double the speed, meaning that 640 x 400 would yield 120 Hz, and having those extra hertz can really step up video performance. It's even got its own three-axis accelerometer for improved accuracy of transmission and reduced lag.

Now, what does this all mean in terms of the system that we'll likely see by the end of this year, or possibly into the early days of next year? I'm personally a bit concerned about the expense. This is the same mistake that Sony made in the early days of the PlayStation 3, bringing out an extremely expensive system that didn't have much in the way of games, allowing a game rich but lesser-powered Xbox 360 to swing in and represent a better deal overall. With the economy still sluggish at best, representing a good deal is going to be especially important, and the growing numbers of alternatives that gamers have--especially since the rise of mobile hardware like smartphones and tablets got fired up in earnest--represents an even greater impetus for Sony to focus on the deal.

Sony has what looks to be a technical wonder ready to go, but whether it will be widely accepted is going to depend largely on the price tag and the titles in and around the launch. Once Sony can start quantifying those, then Sony will have its best chance to succeed.
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