Sony Introduces PlayStation 4
Sony Computer Entertainment today introduced PlayStation 4 (PS4), its next-generation gaming platform.
Gamer Focused, Developer Inspired
The PS4 system architecture is centered around a powerful custom chip that contains eight x86-64 cores and a state of the art graphics processor.
The Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) has been enhanced in a number of ways, principally to allow for easier use of the GPU for general purpose computing (GPGPU) such as physics simulation. The GPU contains a unified array of 18 compute units, which collectively generate 1.84 Teraflops of processing power that can freely be applied to graphics, simulation tasks, or some mixture of the two.
PS4 is equipped with 8 GB of unified system memory, easing game creation and increasing the richness of content achievable on the platform. GDDR5 is used for this memory, giving the system 176 GB/second of bandwidth and providing a further boost to graphics performance.
Shared Game Experiences
Social interaction is central to PS4 experiences, so new features were built into the actual foundation of the system’s hardware architecture. PS4 provides dedicated, “always on” video compression and decompression systems that enables seamless uploading of gameplay. For the first time ever, gamers can share their epic triumphs with the press of a button. Gamers simply hit the “Share” button on the controller, scan through the last few minutes of gameplay, tag it and return to the game — the video uploads as the gamer plays. Gamers can share their images and videos to their friends on social networking services such as Facebook.
PS4 also enhances social spectating by enabling gamers to broadcast their gameplay in real-time to friends using live internet streaming services such as Ustream. During live broadcasts, friends can make comments on the streamed gameplay and, if a gamer gets stuck on a challenging level, friends can also join the game in completely new ways. For example, friends can offer health potions or special weapons when a player needs them most during actual gameplay.
Furthermore, users can connect their Facebook account with Sony Entertainment Network account. Through PS4, users are able to deepen their connections through co-op play or “cross-game chat”.
PS4 integrates second screens, including PlayStation Vita, smartphones and tablets. A key feature enabled by second screens is “Remote Play” and PS4 fully unlocks its potential by making PS Vita the ultimate companion device. With PS Vita, gamers will be able to seamlessly pull PS4 titles from their living room TVs and play them on PS Vita’s 5-inch display and dual analog sticks over Wi-Fi networks. It is Sony’s long-term vision to make most PS4 titles playable on PS Vita.
A new application from Sony called “PlayStation App” will enable iPhone, iPad, and Android based smartphones and tablets to become second screens. Once installed on these devices, users can, for example, see maps on their second screens when playing an adventure game, purchase PS4 games while away from home and download it directly to the console at home, or remotely watch other gamers playing on their devices.
PS4 radically reduces the lag time between players and their content. PS4 features “suspend mode” which keeps the system in a low power state while preserving the game session. The time it takes today to boot a console and load a saved game will be a thing of the past. With PS4, gamers just hit the power button again and are promptly back playing the game at the exact point where they left off. Additionally, users can boot a variety of applications including a web browser when playing a game on PS4.
PS4 also enables games to be downloaded or updated in the background, or even in stand-by mode. The system takes it one step further by making digital titles playable as they are being downloaded. When a player purchases a game, PS4 downloads just a fraction of the data so gamers can start playing immediately, and the rest is downloaded in the background during actual gameplay.
Personalized, Curated Content
On the newly designed PS4 menu screen, players can look over game-related information shared by friends, view friends’ gameplay with ease, or obtain information of recommended content, including games, TV shows and movies. The long-term goal of PS4 is to reduce download times of digital titles to zero: if the system knows enough about a player to predict the next game they will purchase, then that game can be loaded and ready to go before they even click the “buy” button.
Gaming in the Cloud
By combining PlayStation Network with Gaikai’s cloud technology, it is Sony’s goal to make free exploration possible for various games. In the future, when a gamer sees a title of interest in PlayStation Store, they can immediately start playing a portion of the actual game — not a stripped down version of the game. With Gaikai and PlayStation Store, gamers will be able to experience appealing games and only pay for the games they actually love. PlayStation Network and the cloud will offer additional value to PlayStation gamers. Sony is exploring unique opportunities enabled by cloud technology with the long-term vision of making PlayStation libraries including a catalog of more than 3000 PS3 titles, mostly ubiquitous on PS4.
Utilizing a similar design as the DualShock 3, DualShock 4 incorporates a new six-axis sensor, as well as a touch pad located on the front of the controller, which offers gamers new ways to play and interact with games.
DualShock 4 features a light bar on the top with three color LEDs that illuminate in various colors. The light bar illuminates to match the color of characters in a game to offer a simpler, more friendly way to identify players, even when playing side by side. The light bar also changes patterns during gameplay to provide useful information to gamers, such as when a character is critically low on health or has taken major damage.
In addition, DualShock 4 will come with a built-in speaker and stereo headset jack, enabling PS4 users to enjoy sound effects of games from both the TV and also from the controller. Combined with the Mono Headset that will be bundled with PS4, gamers will also be able to chat with friends playing online, while hearing sound effects from the controller in hand.
While integrating “Select” and “Start” buttons on DualShock 3 into a new “Options” button, DualShock 4 is newly equipped with a “Share” button to further enhance PS4′s social capabilities. The “Share” button allows gamers to broadcast their gameplay in real-time to friends through internet streaming services such as Ustream. Users can also share their triumphs and accomplishments by uploading video gameplay to Facebook with the “Share” button. Unlike streaming content via PC, users no longer have to convert data formats of their recorded gameplay, but can share it with ease. Additionally, gamers can charge DualShock 4 while PS4 is on standby or through a dedicated charging station. For convenience, DualShock 4 can also be charged with smartphone chargers via USB.
PlayStation 4 Eye
PlayStation 4 Eye, a newly developed camera for PS4 incorporates two high-sensitive cameras that have wide-angle lenses with 85-degree diagonal angle views which can recognize the depth of space precisely. This enables PlayStation 4 Eye to cut out the image of the player from the background, or to grasp players’ position in front and behind, further broadening the ways to enjoy games. Incorporated four microphones are also capable of accurate sound detection and source origination. In addition, users will be able to login to their PS4 with face recognition and are capable of using their own body movements or voices to enjoy games more intuitively. Furthermore, PlayStation 4 Eye senses the color of DualShock 4′s light bar to judge the positions of multiple players, and set characters in the same positions or let a character talk to a particular player, enabling players to enjoy games in new way. PlayStation 4 Eye also supports PlayStation Move motion controller. It detects the motion of PS Move more precisely, and reflects players’ in-game motion more accurately than ever.
Sony Computer Entertainment will announce new details of PS4 and its lineup of games from third party developers and publishers, the independent gaming community and SCE Worldwide Studios, as well as further enhancements to the entire PlayStation ecosystem between now and the holiday 2013 launch.