Is Sony's Playstation 4 a "perfect" gaming PC?

Posted by Trent Nouveau

Epic VP Mark Rein says Sony's decision to incorporate off-the-shelf PC components in the Playstation 4 (PS4) is a good one for devs and gamers alike.

"I think it's a very smart move on Sony's behalf to build this sort of enhanced PC architecture and then put so much in it. Let's not forget it has 16 times the memory we had in PlayStation 3 - that's not insignificant. Knowing that every machine has that... we can do crazy, ridiculous stuff with that," Rein told CVG during a recent interview.

"The other exciting thing is that... when you think about Windows, even Windows for most people is tied to about 2GB of addressable memory space. This really opens up beyond what most PCs can do, because most PCs are running a 32-bit version of Windows. It's like giving you the world's best PC. The kind of stuff that they announced that they're doing, the level of convenience and things like that, they're making a really perfect gaming PC."

Meanwhile, Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter says he believes the next generation of consoles will "dazzle" consumers, prompting them to upgrade their aging PS4s and Xbox 360s.

"We have details only on the PS4, which is approximately four times as powerful (in terms of data processing power) than the PS3; we expect the next Xbox to be similarly powered, meaning an increase in processing power of around 8x. Many investors remain skeptical that these improvements do not allow for a dramatic improvement in graphical quality for next-generation games; while we think this is more of a function of the current state of display technology, we tend to agree that next-generation games will not be significantly more visually stunning than current-generation games," Pachter opined in a recent industry note.

"However, we think that improvements in facial and voice recognition technology, and dramatic increases in memory may allow for 'smarter' game characters, who may react to and adapt to the style of game play. We expect consumers to be dazzled by the next-generation consoles, and think that rich multimedia functionality may be sufficient to induce most to consider upgrading. Ultimately, we think that software will drive the purchase decision for most consumers, and we expect a significant number of high-quality and high-profile games to launch for next-generation consoles in 2014."

As TG Daily previously reported, Sony has thus far confirmed a number of specs for its upcoming Playstation 4 (PS4) console, including 8 GB GDDR5 of system RAM, a single-chip accelerated processing unit (APU), 8 AMD x86-64 bit Jaguar (CPU) cores and 18 next-generation AMD (GPU) Radeon-based compute units.

Additional specs? 4x USB 3.0, 2x Ethernet, Bluetooth 2.1, AV output: HDMI, analog-AV out, and digital output (optical) 2.0, 5.1, 7.1 channels, Blu-ray 6xCAV and a 160GB HDD.

According to prominent industry analyst Jon Peddie, it’s probably safe to assume that the chip’s eight x86 Jaguar cores boast 4 MB of L2 cache (512 KB per core) and run at 1.60 GHz (or higher).

"It has dedicated custom hardware blocks (e.g., HEVC video decoders for 4K video support) and AMD graphics core next (GCN) architecture. The GPU packs 18 compute units (CUs) and looks very much like the Radeon HD7850 (with 64 cores, built in 28 nm, it produces 1.76 TFLOPS at 860 MHz)," Peddie explained in a recent industry report sent to TG Daily.

"The 18 CUs in the Orbis chip, with its 1152 shader cores, generate 1.8 TFLOPS.
The AMD Jaguar based CPU will likely include a 128-bit floating-point unit (FPU) with enhancements and double pumping to support 256-bit AVX instructions as well as an innovative integer unit with new hardware divider, larger schedulers, and more out-of-order resources."