PlayStation 4

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PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4 logo and wordmark.svg
PlayStation Four.png
The PlayStation 4 console with DualShock 4 controller and PlayStation Camera
DeveloperSony Computer Entertainment
ManufacturerSony Computer Entertainment
Product familyPlayStation
TypeVideo game console
GenerationEighth generation
Release dateCentral & South America November 29, 2013[1]
Introductory priceUS$399/€399/£349
MediaBlu-ray Disc, DVD
CPUSemi-custom 8-core AMD x86-64 CPU (integrated into APU)
Storage capacityHard drive, 500GB (user upgradeable)
Memory8 GB GDDR5 (unified)
Display
GraphicsSemi-custom AMD Radeon GPU (integrated into APU)
Controller inputDualShock 4, PlayStation Move, PlayStation Vita
CameraPlayStation Camera
Connectivity802.11 b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth 2.1, USB 3.0, Ethernet 10/100/1000
Online servicesPlayStation Network
Backward
compatibility
No native support
Cloud support planned
PredecessorPlayStation 3
WebsiteCountry selector
 
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PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4 logo and wordmark.svg
PlayStation Four.png
The PlayStation 4 console with DualShock 4 controller and PlayStation Camera
DeveloperSony Computer Entertainment
ManufacturerSony Computer Entertainment
Product familyPlayStation
TypeVideo game console
GenerationEighth generation
Release dateCentral & South America November 29, 2013[1]
Introductory priceUS$399/€399/£349
MediaBlu-ray Disc, DVD
CPUSemi-custom 8-core AMD x86-64 CPU (integrated into APU)
Storage capacityHard drive, 500GB (user upgradeable)
Memory8 GB GDDR5 (unified)
Display
GraphicsSemi-custom AMD Radeon GPU (integrated into APU)
Controller inputDualShock 4, PlayStation Move, PlayStation Vita
CameraPlayStation Camera
Connectivity802.11 b/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth 2.1, USB 3.0, Ethernet 10/100/1000
Online servicesPlayStation Network
Backward
compatibility
No native support
Cloud support planned
PredecessorPlayStation 3
WebsiteCountry selector

The PlayStation 4 (Japanese: プレイステーション4 Hepburn: Pureisutēshon Fō?), officially abbreviated as PS4, is an upcoming video game console from Sony Computer Entertainment. Announced as the successor to the PlayStation 3 during a press conference on February 20, 2013, the PS4 will launch on November 15, 2013 in North America, and November 29, 2013 in Europe,[2] and will compete with Nintendo's Wii U and Microsoft's Xbox One, as part of the eighth generation of video game consoles.

Moving away from the complicated Cell architecture of the PlayStation 3, the PlayStation 4 will feature a simpler AMD processor, in hopes of attracting a broader range of developers and support for the system. Sony also plans to place more focus on social gameplay, incorporating a "share" button on the new controller and making it possible to view in-game play streamed live from friends. The console will focus on interactivity with other services and devices, including Gaikai, a cloud-based gaming service that will offer downloadable content and games; the PlayStation App, which will connect smartphones and tablets into a second screen to enhance gameplay; and the PlayStation Vita, which will be able to play a majority of the games through Remote Play.

History

According to lead architect Mark Cerny, development on Sony's eighth-generation video game console began as early as 2008.[3] Less than two years earlier, the PlayStation 3 had launched after months of delays due to issues in production.[4] The delay placed Sony almost a year behind Microsoft's Xbox 360, which was already approaching 10 million units sold by the time the PS3 launched.[4] PlayStation Europe CEO Jim Ryan said Sony wanted to avoid repeating the same mistake with PS3's successor.[5]

In 2012, Sony began shipping development kits to game developers consisting of a modified PC running the AMD Accelerated Processing Unit chipset.[6] These development kits were known as Orbis.[7] In early 2013, Sony announced that an event known as PlayStation Meeting 2013 would be held in New York City on February 20, 2013 to cover the "future of PlayStation".[8][9] Sony officially announced the PlayStation 4 at the event.[10][11] They revealed details about the PS4's hardware and discussed some of the new features it will introduce.[12][13] Sony also showed off real-time footage of games in development, as well as some technical demonstrations.[14][15] Sony released more information about the PS4 and showed the device itself in June 2013 at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.[16]

The company revealed release dates for North America, Central America, South America, Europe & Australia as well as final pieces of information at the Gamescom conference in Cologne, Germany on 20 August 2013. However, no date has been announced for the Asia region yet. The console will release on November 15, 2013 in the United States and Canada. Followed by further releases on November 29, 2013 in Australia, Europe, North America, Central America & South America.[1]

Hardware

The console design was not revealed at the press conference revealing the console, since the design and specifications were still being finalized.[17] However, some technical specifications about the console were announced.[12][13] The technology in the PlayStation 4 will be relatively similar to the hardware found in personal computers.[18] This familiarity should make it easier and less expensive for game studios to develop games for the PS4.[19][20] The physical console was finally unveiled by Sony at E3 2013.

Technical specifications

The PlayStation 4 will utilize a semi-custom accelerated processing unit (APU) developed by AMD in cooperation with Sony. Its APU will be a single-chip that combines a central processing unit (CPU) and graphics processing unit (GPU), as well as other components such as a memory controller and video decoder.[21] The CPU consists of eight x86-64 cores based on the Jaguar architecture from AMD.[21] The GPU consists of 18 compute units to produce a theoretical peak performance of 1.84 TFLOPS.[15] This processing power can be used for graphics, physics simulation, or a combination of the two. The console also includes secondary custom chips that handle tasks associated with downloading, uploading, and social gameplay.[22][23] These tasks can be handled seamlessly in the background during gameplay or while the system is in sleep mode.[24] Though not much is currently known of the PS4's audio capabilities, the console also contains a dedicated hardware audio module, which can support in-game chat with minimal external resources as well as "a very large number" of MP3 streams for use in in-game audio.[25]

The PS4 will contain 8 GB of GDDR5 unified system memory with a maximum bandwidth of 176 GB/s.[15][26] This is 16 times the amount of RAM found in the PS3 and is expected to give the console considerable longevity.[18][27] The unified memory architecture allows the CPU and GPU to access a consolidated memory, removing the need for separate, dedicated memory pools.[27]

The read-only optical drive will read Blu-ray discs at 6x constant angular velocity for a maximum read speed of 27 MB/s – a significant upgrade from the PS3's 2x speeds that were capped at 9MB/s.[27][28] To further enhance optical drive performance, the PS4 will feature a hardware on-the-fly Zlib decompression module,[jargon] allowing for greater real-term bandwidth, whilst at the same time, the console will continuously cache data onto its hard disk, even buffering unread data when a game isn't actively accessing the optical drive, forming part of Sony's PlayGo strategy.[25] Early reports indicate that the Blu-ray Disc drive will not be capable of reading quad-layer 100 GB discs, a new Blu-ray Disc technology designed to support 4K resolution.[27] Although the console will support photos and videos at 4K resolution, the system is not expected to be able to render games beyond 1080p.[29][30] The console will include a 500-gigabyte hard drive for additional storage,[31] which can be upgraded by the user.[32]

The PlayStation 4 will feature 802.11 b/g/n wireless network connectivity, Ethernet (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX and 1000BASE-T), Bluetooth 2.1, and two USB 3.0 ports.[15][27] An auxiliary port will also be included for connection to the PlayStation Camera, a motion detection digital camera device first introduced on the PS3.[15] A mono headset, which can be plugged into the DualShock 4, will come bundled with the system.[33] Audio/video output options include HDMI and optical S/PDIF.[15] The PlayStation 4 does not have an analog audio/video output.[34]

Controllers

PlayStation Move controllers

The DualShock 4 will be the PlayStation 4's primary controller, retailing at US$59/€59/£54.[35] Similar to the DualShock 3, it will connect to the console via Bluetooth 2.1+EDR.[36] The DualShock 3, however, will not be compatible with PS4.[37] The DualShock 4 will be equipped with several new features, including a built-in two-point capacitative touch pad on the front of the controller, which is clickable.[33] The controller will support motion detection via a three-axis gyroscope and three-axis accelerometer and improved vibration.[33][36] It will include a non-removable,[38] rechargeable lithium-ion battery tentatively capable of storing 1000 mAh.[33] The tentative design weighs 210 g (7.4 oz), has dimensions of 162 × 52 × 98 mm (6.4 × 2.0 × 3.9 in), and has a rubber or etched plastic backing to enhance grip.[36][38] The design shown at the PlayStation 4 reveal event was "near final".[17]

DualShock 4 controller

The controller will feature several output connectors. Its stereo jack (3.5 mm TRRS connector) will support the connection of a headset to allow a user to speak and hear audio simultaneously.[36] A micro USB port, an extension port, and a mono speaker will also be included. The controller can be charged via micro USB, a dedicated charging station, or the console (even when the console is off).[33]

The DualShock 4 will feature the following buttons: PS button, SHARE button, OPTIONS button, directional buttons, action buttons (triangle, circle, cross, square), shoulder buttons (R1/L1), triggers (R2/L2), analog stick click buttons (L3/R3) and a touch pad click button.[33] These mark several changes from the DualShock 3 and other previous PlayStation controllers. The START and SELECT buttons have been merged into a single OPTIONS button.[33][38] A dedicated SHARE button will allow players to upload video from their gameplay experiences.[33] The joysticks and triggers have been redesigned based on developer input.[33] The joysticks now will feature a concave surface.[38]

The DualShock 4 will also feature a light bar that can display different colors. The colors will help identify players and alert them with critical messages such as low health.[33] It also will interact with a camera attachment that perceives movement and depth by using the controller's light bar. It is based on the existing technology used in the PlayStation Move. Existing PlayStation Move controllers will be supported on the PS4.[36][39]

PlayStation Camera

PlayStation Camera device

The PlayStation Camera is a motion sensing input device for the PlayStation 4. It will include two 1280×800px cameras. The lenses will operate with an aperture of f/2.0, with 30 cm focusing distance, and an 85° field of view.[33] The dual camera setup will allow for different modes of operation, depending on the target application.[40] The two cameras can be used together for depth-sensing of objects in its field of vision,[41] akin to the Xbox 360's Kinect peripheral.[42] Alternatively, one of the cameras can be used for generating the video image, with the other used for motion tracking.[43]

The PlayStation Camera will also feature a four-channel microphone array,[33] which helps reduce unwanted background noise and may even be used to issue commands.[40] It is tentatively set to be 186 × 27 × 27 mm (7.3 × 1.1 × 1.1 in) (width × height × depth), with a weight of 183 grams (6.5 oz).[33] It will record video in RAW and YUV (uncompressed) formats and will connect with the PlayStation 4 via the console's auxiliary port.[33] The PlayStation Camera will be released as a separate, add-on accessory,[31] priced at US$59/€49/£44.[35]

Companion devices

A variety of devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and the PlayStation Vita, can interact with the PlayStation 4 as second screens.[15] Companion devices can also wake the console from sleep mode.[44]

The PlayStation Vita can be used for streaming video directly from the console to the handheld, allowing supported games to be played remotely.[45] Sony hopes to make all PS4 games playable on the PlayStation Vita.[15] Developers can add Vita-specific controls for use via Remote Play.[17]

The PlayStation App will allow mobile devices to interact with the PlayStation 4, similar to Xbox SmartGlass.[46][47] It will be available for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.[15] Gamers can use this application to, for example, purchase PS4 titles while away from home and have them remotely downloaded to the console, watch live streams of other gamers, and view in-game maps while playing games.[15]

Software and services

The PlayStation 4 system software screenshot shown at the 2013 meeting

The PlayStation 4 runs an operating system called "Orbis OS." The current prototypes are based on the FreeBSD operating system.[48] Although the PS4 does not require an Internet connection to function, Sony says the PlayStation 4's feature set is much richer when online.[49] The PlayStation Network (PSN) will allow players to access a variety of cloud-based services from the PlayStation Store including Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited subscription services.[15] Customers can browse titles and stream games via Gaikai to try them out almost instantaneously.[15][50] Online multiplayer access requires a subscription to PlayStation Plus,[51] a policy new to the PlayStation consoles, but free-to-play titles such as DC Universe Online, PlanetSide 2 and Warframe will be playable without a subscription, and asynchronous functions such as online leaderboards can still be accessed.[52] Furthermore, owing to the need to subscribe for online multiplayer, Sony will not allow online passes to be used on the system by any publisher.[53] Sony intends to expand and evolve the services it offers over the PlayStation 4's lifespan.[54]

User interface

The PlayStation 4 will replace the XrossMediaBar with a new customizable interface titled PlayStation Dynamic Menu.[55][56][57] The user profile for players will show recent activity, their full name, and other details in addition to their unlocked Trophies.[58] The PS4 home screen will feature personalized content from friends.[15] Services from third-party vendors, such as Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, will also be accessible within the new interface.[59] It will be possible to multitask during gameplay, such as opening a web browser while playing a game.[15]

Social features

Sony is focused on "social" aspects as a major feature of the PlayStation 4.[54] Although the console will have improved social functionality, the features are optional and can be disabled.[54] Gamers will have the option to use real names with friends, in addition to a nickname in other situations when anonymity is important.[60]

Sharing

The DualShock 4 controller includes a "share" button, allowing the player to cycle through the last 15 minutes of gameplay to select a screenshot or video clip appropriate for sharing. Media is uploaded seamlessly from the console to other PSN users or social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube.

"Ustream's integration within PS4 consoles will put gamers on a new media field. They will have the ability to direct, produce, and star in their own video game production, simply by being an awesome (or not so awesome!) gamer."

—Ustream co-founder Brad Hunstable

Live broadcasting

Gamers can browse live video of titles their friends are playing through the PS4 interface, with cross-game camera and microphone inputs, spectate or assist in their game to help them overcome difficult obstacles, and broadcast live video of one's own gameplay via public services Twitch and Ustream, allowing friends to view and comment on them from other web browsers and devices.[15][61]

Games

Sony Computer Entertainment of America chief executive officer Jack Tretton said games for the PlayStation 4 will range in price from US$0.99 to $60.00.[62] Games on the PlayStation 4 will not be region-locked, so games purchased in one region can be played on consoles in all regions.[63] Additionally, gamers can trade, lend, and re-sell their games, as buying a game means it is owned by them forever.[64]

Sony hopes to make it easier for independent game developers to develop titles for the PS4.[20] At the 2013 E3 Sony event, the company revealed that they will allow developers to self-publish their titles on the PlayStation Network for the PlayStation 3, 4, and Vita systems.[65] The company further announced at least ten indie titles that will make their console debut on the PlayStation 4 by the end of 2013.[66]

In addition to the physical media available at retailers, all PlayStation 4 titles can be purchased online.[67] Additionally, every game can be test played for free.[68] Players can sign in to any PS4 console to access their entire digital game library.[69] Sony will not prohibit the trading of disc-based games and will not require the console to periodically check in online to validate game legitimacy.[70][71]

The system will feature downloadable content similar to what is available on other PlayStation platforms.

PlayGo

PlayGo will allow quicker access to supported games. When a title is selected online, only a portion of the game data has to be transferred to the system before it can be started (e.g. the first level), with the remaining parts downloading during play, reducing waiting time. If users prefer to play their game directly from disc, PS4 will install data to the hard drive during play, eliminating loading times. This is accomplished via the system's secondary processor. Similarly, system updates are downloaded seamlessly in the background without interruption.[72] The PS4 also features technology that attempts to determine trends, including titles a gamer is likely to express interest in next, and then automatically download a small percentage of those games in the background, even in sleep mode, in order to save time.[15]

Suspend mode

Should the need arise to end a gaming session at short notice, the PS4 will enter a low power state. The game will be suspended instead of terminated, so that when full power is later restored, the player can quickly resume where they left off. This will avert unnecessary loading screens and menu options.[73]

Backward compatibility

Sony has confirmed that the PlayStation 4 will not natively support PlayStation 3 games.[74] While the company has yet to also rule-out on-console emulation of some previous generations,[75] the company has detailed plans to explore cloud-based emulation of previous generations as a long-term solution to the challenges of backwards compatibility.

Sony is planning to launch a cloud-based streaming service through Gaikai, a company acquired by Sony in July 2012. The service will emulate and render previous generations of PlayStation games, streaming them to the PS4 and the Vita, over the internet.[76][77]

Reception

Reception to the console from developers and journalists has been positive.

Mark Rein of Epic Games praised the "enhanced" architecture of Sony's system, describing it as "a phenomenal piece of hardware".[78] John Carmack, programmer and co-founder of id Software, also commended the design by saying "Sony made wise engineering choices",[79] while Randy Pitchford of Gearbox Software expressed satisfaction with the amount of high-speed memory in the console.[80]

Eurogamer called the graphics technology in the PS4 "impressive" and an improvement from the difficulties developers experienced on the PlayStation 3.[27] Ted Price, president and CEO of Insomniac Games, said: "As a longtime partner of Sony's we've enjoyed some pretty awesome console tech over the last couple of decades and it looks like the PS4 will continue that trend. I think most of us in the console development world are always looking for more horsepower, more memory, more storage, faster load times... Sony showed clear evidence that we're getting those boosts with this console. However since we at Insomniac love creating new IP, what seems particularly cool is the Gaikai streaming which should allow you to experience console IP on different types of devices."[81]

After Sony's E3 2013 press conference, IGN responded positively to Sony's attitude towards indie developers and trading games, stating they thought "most gamers would agree" that "if you care about games like [Sony] do, you'll buy a PlayStation 4."[82] The PlayStation 4's removable and upgradable hard drive also drew praise from IGN, with Scott Lowe commenting that the decision gave the PS4 "another advantage" over the Xbox One, for which the hard drive cannot be accessed.[83]

GameSpot called PlayStation 4 "the gamer's choice for next-generation", citing its price, lack of restrictive digital rights management, and most importantly, Sony's efforts to "acknowledge its consumers" and "respect its audience" as major factors.[84]

Sales

As of August 2013, over one million preorders have been placed for the PlayStation 4.[85]

See also

References

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