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Digital Foundry Claims to Reveal PlayStation 4 Specs, Power, Details

January 18, 2013 Written by Sebastian Moss

The mostly-reputable Digital Foundry says that they have the inside scoop on what’s in the PlayStation 4. The tech-focused branch of Eurogamer generally gets things right – other than their questionable PS3vs360 comparisons and the time they said OnLive wouldn’t work – and this rumor is incredibly detailed, so there’s a good chance parts of it could be true. Of course, it’s still a rumor and should be treated as such.

Here’s the short-form of what they claim:

  • CPU: Eight-core AMD processor running at 1.6GHz
  • Radeon HD hardware, 18 compute units at 800MHz
  • An unknown GPU-like Compute module
  • Some resources reserved by the OS
  • System-on-chip codename is still Liverpool
  • 4GB GDDR5 (the fast RAM), 512MB reserved by the OS
  • Xbox will only have the slower DDR3, but 8GB of it

And here’s it in-depth:

Sources “trusted by Digital Foundry” say that the next gen PlayStation (and the next Xbox) will feature eight-core CPUs clocked at 1.6GHz. The main processor architecture in both consoles is apparently derived from AMD’s new “Jaguar” technology. PS4 will also feature Radeon HD graphics hardware (something that has been previously rumored). DF suggests that the Radeon 7970M “could be a strong basis for a next-gen console graphics core”, with the PS4 having 10% less than the 850MHz and 20 of AMD’s “Graphics Core Next” compute units in the 7970M, at 18 CUs and 800MHz. These specs come to the 1.84 teraflops metric for the Orbis GPU that VG247 rumored yesterday.

While all this sounds very PC-like, the most interesting thing to take away from the rumor is that “there’s a fair amount of “secret sauce” in Orbis and we can disclose details on one of the more interesting additions”. Specifically, there’s a bespoke GPU-like “Compute” module, designed to ease the burden on certain operations. “We’re assured that this is bespoke hardware that is not a part of the main graphics pipeline but we remain rather mystified by its standalone inclusion, bearing in mind Compute functions could be run off the main graphics cores and that devs could have the option to utilize that power for additional graphical grunt, if they so chose.” This could tie in with PSLS’ own investigation into the PS4′s GPGPU focus.

DF claims that all of these elements will be embedded into the same piece of silicon, with the internal codename for the processor called “Liverpool” (previously rumored). Due to AMD’s Jaguar tech – an overall CPU component could be as little as 75-80mm in total, compared to the 235mm of the launch PS3′s Cell processor – the single silicon could lead to “significant production cost savings and brings down overall power consumption.” DF goes on to speculate the lower power (that’s wattage, not computing power) drain will lead to fewer hardware problems such as the YLOD.

The PS4 is said to feature 4GB of GDDR5 (the super-fast RAM) with 512MB of it reserved for the operating system. Meanwhile, the 720 will only use the slower much slower DDR3, with Microsoft “set to be using an offshoot of eDRAM technology connected to the graphics core to offset the bandwidth issues the use of DDR3 incur.” But Microsoft will bring the big guns with the sheer amount of RAM – 8GB. 3GB of it, however, will be put aside for OS (this was also rumored yesterday).

The next Xbox could also have two whole cores reserved simply for the customisable apps Microsoft wants to run in parallel with gameplay. DF notes that there’s no plans for the PS4 to do that, so “may power past the new Xbox simply because it focuses its resources on out-and-out games power”.

DF did note some ballpark comparisons with PCs that use vaguely similar setups, but then admits that the removal of the Windows OS, the dedicated system and the fact that developers can focus on one set of hardware basically makes such comparisons pointless. So we haven’t included them.

What do you think of the rumor? The PS4 will certainly be more PC-like than the PS3, but at least the rumors point to it being the most powerful console out of the bunch. Are you excited? Let us know in the comments below.