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Sony to Announce PS4 / Orbis on Wednesday

Updated on February 18, 2013

If the three videos Sony has released, charting the success of the PlayStation through the years, are any indication, then it is all but certain that Sony will announce the fabled PlayStation 4 at its event on Wednesday. Here's a few things that we know about the PS4.

1. PS Move capability built into the new Dual Shock 4 controller

Down below, I have included a picture of the leaked Dual Shock 4 controller, as well as a developer kit of Orbis (the code name for the PS4). It looks like the Move sensor is on the top of the controller and will glow in the color blue when activated. This will remove the need to buy the Move controllers, logically. They have also included a headphone jack, as there seems to be an integrated speaker, similar to Wii controllers. The other interesting thing we can see is the small touch screen where the 'Start' and 'Select' buttons used to be on other PlayStation controllers. It's a mystery exactly what this will be used for, but I'm certain we will find out on Wednesday.

2. On paper, it will be more powerful than the next Xbox

Citing an in depth look by the excellent Digital Foundry, they found that based on the leaked specs (which seem to be quite genuine) of the two yet unannounced systems, the PS4 holds a nice advantage over the next Xbox (here on referred to as the Xbox 720). According to the leaks, the two systems are largely similar. Both will use AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) for their CPU and GPU. So, they are transferring from a Power PC architecture to an x86 one. This makes backwards compatibility impossible, unless you do it all in software, which seems unlikely. More on that later.

The reason for its advantage, you ask? It comes down to the RAM and GPU. The PS4 will utilize 4 GB of GDDR5, the fastest commercially available, and the Xbox 720 will reportedly use 8 GB of GDDR3. That's a large amount of RAM, considering the Xbox 360 and PS3 both utilized just 512 MB of RAM. So, while the Xbox 720 will have a quantity advantage, it will also be slower in terms of bandwidth.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, we look at the GPU differences. The main difference is that the PS4's GPU will have 18 CUs (Compute Unit) and the Xbox 720 will have 12, which is a 50% advantage. The PS4 will also have 32 ROPs (Render Output units), versus 16 for the Xbox 720.

Certainly, the gap won't be major, but it's definitely significant. We'll have to see if these specs hold up, but the sources are very reliable, apparently.

3. PS4 will stream PS3 games using Gaikai

I suppose we all wondered why Sony bought Gaikai a while back. Well, this explains it. As I mentioned earlier, Sony is moving away from the Power PC architecture of its Cell processor and into the arms of AMD by choosing x86. These two architectures are not compatible, and translating code to run on the new platform would be costly and not really feasible.

Then, Gaikai enters. For those who don't know, Gaikai is a game streaming company like OnLive. It has a server that renders the game based on your input and beams it back to your computer, therefore removing the need to have a "gaming" PC anymore. There's still a bit of lag, as you could imagine. So, in reality, it doesn't replace a dedicated gaming PC.

But, it will allow select PS3 games to be streamed directly to a person's PS4 console. Since Sony had such a fiasco surrounding the backwards compatibility of the PS3, I'm sure it was keen to avoid that drama this time around.

Confirmation on Wednesday

So, there you have it. That's what we know, thus far. We will have to see if all this information holds up. It seems quite genuine, and the sources who leaked are very reliable. I guess we will have to wait until Wednesday to see everything unveiled officially. Who else can't wait?

Charting the past success of PlayStation:

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