Earlier today a report from Kotaku.com posted some details about the upcoming PlayStation console, code named Orbis and sometimes just called the PS4. Kotaku author Luke Plunkett got the information from a 90 page PDF that details the development kit so the information is likely pretty accurate if incomplete. It discusses a new controller and a completely new accounts system but I was mostly interested in the hardware details given.
We'll begin with the specs. And before we go any further, know that these are current specs for a PS4 development kit, not the final retail console itself. So while the general gist of the things you see here may be similar to what makes it into the actual commercial hardware, there's every chance some—if not all of it—changes, if only slightly.
This is key to keep in mind because here are the specs listed on the report:
- 8GB of system memory
- 2.2GB of graphics memory
- 4 module (8 core) AMD Bulldozer CPU
- AMD "R10xx" based GPU
- 4x USB 3.0 ports and 2x Ethernet connections
- Blu-ray drive
- 160GB HDD
- HDMI and optical audio output
We are essentially talking about an AMD FX-series processor with a Southern Islands based discrete card and I am nearly 100% sure that this will not match the configuration of the shipping system. Think about it – would a console developer really want to have a processor that can draw more than 100 watts inside its box in addition to a discrete GPU? I doubt it.
Instead, let's go with the idea that this developer kit is simply meant to emulate some final specifications. More than likely we are looking at an APU solution that combines Bulldozer or Steamroller cores along with GCN-based GPU SIMD arrays. The most likely candidate is Kaveri, a 28nm based product that meets both of those requirements. Josh recently discussed the future with Kaveri in a post during CES, worth checking out. AMD has told us several times that Kaveri should be able to hit the 1.0 TFLOPs level of performance and if we compare to the current discrete GPUs would enable graphics performance similar to that of an under-clocked Radeon HD 7770.
There is some room for doubt though – Kaveri isn't supposed to be out until "late Q4" though its possible that the PS4 will be the first customer. It is also possible that AMD is making a specific discrete GPU for implementation on the PS4 based on the GCN architecture that would be faster than the graphics performance expected on the Kaveri APU.
When speaking with our own Josh Walrath on this rumor, he tended to think that Sony and AMD would not use an APU but would rather combine a separate CPU and GPU on a single substrate, allowing for better yields than a combined APU part. In order to make up for the slower memory controller interface (on substrate is not as fast as on-die) AMD might again utilize backside cache, just like the one used on the Xbox 360 today. With process technology improvements its not unthinkable to see that jump to 30 or 40MB of cache.
With the debate of a 2013 or 2014 release still up in the air, there is plenty of time for this to change still but we will likely know for sure after our next trip to Taipei.