Archive for the ‘Console News’ Category

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Sony's PlayStation 4 is a thinly disguised PC

The PS4 artfully imagined. Which is all we can do for now…

Sony may not have had an actual box to display. But it has revealed the innards of its next-gen PlayStation 4 games console. And it’s pure PC.

The CPU is an AMD design with eight x86-64, low-power Jaguar cores, while the graphics core is also from AMD and derived from its latest Radeon HD family and roughly equivalent to a 7850 graphics board. But does that matter? Possibly. Here’s why.

In really simple terms (and this assumes leaked info on the next console from Microsoft turns out to be correct), games development just got a whole lot easier.

From now on, you’ll develop on one platform – the PC – and simply recompile for PlayStation or Xbox. OK, it’ll be a bit more complicated than that in practice. But the basic notion is correct.

And it puts the PC into an interesting position in the gaming hierarchy.

Lowest common denominator

The feeble specs of existing games consoles is easily the biggest drag on game development. CPU and GPU specs grab the headlines and both the PS3 and the Xbox 360 are looking horribly outdated by both metrics.

But more than anything it’s memory space and bandwidth that’s the biggest bummer. Current consoles don’t have nearly enough of either and it makes life very hard for developers attempting to realise large, realistic game worlds.

The good news is that the new PS4 is a massive step forward. It packs 8GB of super fast GDDR5 memory and 176GB/s of raw memory bandwidth.

But the really interesting bit involves the fact that the CPU and GPU are squeezed together on a single chip and in terms of memory have a truly unified address space.

At last, a powerful APU

In other words, the PS4’s chip is world’s first truly high performance APU or Accelerated Processing Unit. It’s AMD’s vision for the future of the PC. Only it’s arrived in a console first.

In theory, that lets you do lots of exciting things in terms of sharing code and work across the CPU and GPU cores.

Whether games developers will actually take advantage of that is another question. But it does make the PS4 more interesting than the thinly-disguised PC with mediocre performance that it first appears to be.

Instead, it’s a truly heterogeneous computing platform, a system-on-a-chip design that could shake up the way modern games are made.

Given that a lot of the earlier attention (and I include myself in that) was on the relatively disappointing specification of the AMD-sourced CPU cores, that’s really good news.

At the very least, the improvements in memory performance should encourage game devs to be miles more ambitious regards the scope and scale of worlds they create.

What does it all mean for the PC?

Exactly what it all means for the PC is harder to judge. Will AMD bring out a similarly powerful APU for use in conventional PCs?

That was certainly its plan. But more recently AMD’s attention has shifted towards ultra mobile computing. And, frankly, assuming AMD will survive long enough to ship PlayStation-like APUs for regular PCs, even if that’s still the intention, is a bit of a stretch.

Despite that, I’m optimistic. The PS4 and the next Xbox will lift the standard of games development. And the close hardware relationship of the PC can only make it easier for games to be ported across and even improved to take advantage of the power of the PC.

Because whatever happens, the PC will remain the most powerful gaming platform for the foreseeable future. The only difference now is that the consoles are more closely related than ever before.

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Sony confirms 4K movies for PS4, say hello to 100GB downloads

We keep learning more about this console, except what it looks like

Is the world ready for movie downloads in excess of 100GB? Sony seems to think so, with super high-resolution 4K movies now confirmed for the PS4.

The Verge reported this week that Sony Electronics President and Chief Operating Officer Phil Molyneux confirmed 4K video will indeed be supported on the company’s still-unseen PS4.

“I promise you will not be disappointed,” Molyneux teased at a Sony event in New York City (no, not this one), despite lingering questions about the viability of the ultra high-resolution technology.

Sony’s COO also confirmed the obvious, stating that an average 4K movie download would pull down 100GB or more worth of data, which is likely to mean overnight downloading and less-than-immediate gratification for viewers.

In a separate interview with the PlayStation Blog on Friday, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe President and CEO Jim Ryan also commented on the future of PlayStation Plus and how it will fit into the PS4 experience.

“We definitely see [PlayStation Plus] as a core part of the way forward,” Ryan confirmed.

“We’re not yet in a position to disclose our plans for the future of PlayStation Plus but there will definitely be a prominent role to play for it in the PlayStation 4 landscape.”

Ryan also anticipates the current PlayStation 3 will remain “a very important part of our portfolio” into next year and beyond.

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AMD aims to sell modified PlayStation 4 APU for PCs

AMD APU’s for all

The PlayStation 4‘s components were only divulged by Sony a few days ago, but already AMD is revealing plans for its architecture beyond the game console.

Speaking with the Inquirer, AMD’s Head of Marketing John Taylor revealed the company’s plans to release a scaled down version of the accelerated processing unit (APU) for PCs.

While the PC version of the APU won’t be as powerful as the chip inside the PS4, it will be based very closely on the AMD Jaguar Sony is currently touting for its unseen console.

Covering all bases

The decision shouldn’t cause concern for any Sony faithful worried that the proprietary tech in the PlayStation 4 will be making its way into the wild.

Taylor made sure to stipulate the APU released for PCs won’t have the same number of cores or the same computing capabilities as found in the PS4.

“Everything that Sony has shared in that single chip is AMD [intellectual property], but we have not built an APU quite like that for anyone else in the market,” Taylor added.

According to Taylor, the PS4’s APU is “by far the most powerful APU” AMD has ever built, and that the chips arriving later this year won’t be capable of “that level of sheer number of cores, sheer number of teraflops.”

Curiously, the Xbox 720 is also rumored to use the same x86 chip that was revealed for the PS4, but since that console hasn’t actually been announced yet, it’s impossible to know what sort of chip the next Xbox will run yet.

 

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Now you can study the PS4 interface in minute detail

PS4 news feed, feeding you all the news

We may still be in the dark about what the PS4 console looks like, but at least now we know what it’ll look like onscreen as a series of UI screenshots land online.

Confirmed by Sony as real, the screens show off a number of things including an achievements screen, news feed and a couple of shots of a phone and tablet streaming live.

Of particular interest is the Share screen, which shows the options you’ll get when you hit Share on the DualShock 4 controller.

ps4 interface UI
Share and share alike

If you choose to broadcast video of what you’re playing, others will be able to watch and comment as you play, as shown in the grab below with realistically terrible grammar.

ps4 ui
Here’s where you get to show off your achievements

 

ps4 ui
ps4
ps4

We saw a few of these screens during Sony’s big PS4 launch in February, but at least now we’re free to pore over them in more detail – and for everything else we know about the PS4 so far, head on over to our handy round-up page.

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Save the date, Ouya backers: your console is shipping March 28

Our you an Ouya backer?

Ouya wants its Kickstarter supporters to get excited, and with good cause. Those who backed the project via the funding site will see their consoles ship on March 28.

“Parts are in the factory and assembly lines are buzzing,” the company wrote in a blog post about the announcement, and though the ship date is still a month away, at least it’s something firm to hold onto.

Backers, who gifted more than $8 million (around UK£5.2 million, AU$7.8 million) to bring Ouya to life, should see an email in their inboxes with a tracking number and approximate delivery date before long.

Delivery time for the $99 console (no word yet on international pricing) is expected to take a few weeks.

Ouya is still on track to be available widely in June, Ouya confirmed. Over the next few weeks and months the company plans to add new features, refine the user experience, and channel more games, signaling that while the initial shipments aren’t the complete version, Ouya is over waiting.

What to play?

There’s high hope for Ouya, not least of all are centered around its juicy specs, including a quad-core Tegra 3 processor.

And while an initial ship date is a good sign the hardware is there, the folks at Ouya want people to know that games are also lining up nicely for the system.

In the same announcement, we learned that a new, Ouya-exclusive title from Kim Swift and Airtight Games is in the works, though as of now there’s no official name for the game yet.

The Ball
Have a ball as you play ‘The Ball’ on your Ouya

We’ll also see a Minority Media “adventure puzzler” that takes full advantage of Ouya’s touchpad and buttons simultaneously plus The Ball fromTripwire Interactive arrive sometime in March.

Last but not least, nWay action and role-playing title ChronoBlade is making the jump to Ouya.

The Android-based console is still up for pre-order, so if you’re interested in securing your place in line for system, hit up Ouya’s website.