Useful Notes: PlayStation 4

aka: Playstation 4

The PlayStation 4 is Sony's entry into The Eighth Generation of Console Video Games. It was released in North America on November 15, 2013 for the retail price of $399, in Europe on November 29, 2013 for the retail price of 399 (349 in the UK) and in Japan on February 22, 2014 for 38,980.

Traditionally, Sony developed their own chips for use in their consoles. However, developers complained that these chips were hard to program for due to poor documentation and complicated designs. Additionally, none of the processors Sony developed went beyond the PlayStation application as Sony had hoped. The Cell processor in the PlayStation 3 for instance failed to break into the supercomputer market despite various attempts.

As a result, Sony asked what the developers wanted in their new system. This led to AMD's Jaguar platform being selected, along with 8GB of very fast GDDR5 memory. Each has its own advantages: AMD's platform uses the x86-64 architecture that powers most PCs. Since x86-64 is a popular, long-running architecture (debuted in 2004, with x86 itself debuting in 1978), there's plenty of developer experience with it. Meanwhile, 8GB of GDDR5 deals with issues of both the size and speed of memory budgets, a constant bane to video game programmers.

At the announcement conference, Sony only showed the DualShock 4 controller and some of the new upcoming features. The biggest one was the new sharing feature which allow players to stream their games over services such as Twitch.tv. The console itself was revealed later at E3 2013, along with whatever footage game developers had of their upcoming titles.

The DualShock 4 received an overhaul over the previous generations of the controller. The handles are now a bit bulbous and the triggers and thumb sticks are concave, making it more ergonomic. The "Start" and "Select" button were replaced with "Options" and "Share" button, the former more or less renamed while the latter is to start the sharing features. In the center is a clickable touch pad and below that a speaker. The bottom of the controller features a headphone jack for voice chat or if the player wants, all of the audio from the console can be sent over the jack when headphones are plugged in. Lastly on the top of the controller is a light bar similar to the PlayStation Move's scepter, which also serves as a status or mood light in some games when not using PlayStation Move.

Major features of the console is its region free and with none of the DRM that Microsoft at the time was planning to implement with the Xbox One. While game installs are mandatory, it supports a "install as you play" feature called PlayGo, which also works for digital copies. As with the PlayStation 3, the hard drive is user replaceable, however, there's no support for external memory though Sony plans on adding it. There is also a much improved remote play feature to the Play Station Vita that adds similar functionality to it like the Wii U's tablet controller. However, because of its use of a completely different architecture, it will not be backwards compatible with any previous generation PlayStation games offline. However, Sony will use a cloud gaming service similar to OnLive called PlayStation Now for older generation games, which is currently in beta.

Online multiplayer, except for Free-to-Play games, requires a PlayStation Plus subscription. However, only one subscription is required per console, meaning multiple user accounts can use the same subscription. The subscription will also carry over from the PlayStation 3. The benefits still remain, such as free games and discounts, but subscribers may also have early access to some content.

The head of Sony Computer Entertainment has interest in the Oculus Rift virtual reality HMD, to the point where it's likely the Head Mounted Display will be supported. And VR HMDs will be supported, by Sony's own Project Morpheus.

Unlike the PlayStation 3, which didn't produce a net profit until 2011, nearly five years into its lifespan, Sony expects to break even on PS4 at launch through the sale of online subscriptions, accessories, and games. They also lofted a very ambitious goal of shipping 4 million units by 1 January 2014. This goal seemed more realistic when it's pointed out that the console sold 1 million units in its first 24 hours Sony managed to achieve this goal with gusto, announcing that 4.2 million units had been sold worldwide as of December 28, 2013. By March 3, 2014, Sony announced that the PlayStation 4 reached 6 million total sales, which puts this as the fastest selling console of all time.

Technical specifications

  • AMD "Jaguar" Accelerated Processing Unit (A CPU & GPU on a single chip), Liverpool variant
    • The CPU has eight x86-64 cores (consisting of two quad-core silicon fused together) running at 1.6GHz each.
    • The GPU contains 1152 GPU shaders and runs at 800 MHz, for a performance rated at 1.84 TFLOPS.
  • A secondary low-power ARM-type processor for background and network tasks (much like the "Starlet" core in the Hollywood GPU of a Nintendo Wii). There are also rumors that the ARM CPU also assists in hardware screen streaming to allow the player to stream their games to services like TwitchTV without taxing the main CPU.

  • 8 GB GDDR5 system memory running at 5.5GHz with a total bandwidth of 176GB/s. Third-party reports are conflicting but generally agree that the console reserves somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5 GB for the operating system.
    • A separate 256MB of RAM is present on the secondary ARM processor.
    • Implements HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture) for the APU: The CPU and GPU parts works off a common memory space and shares memory with each other. AMD would later take what they learnt from this and enable this technology on PCs in their Kaveri chips.
  • 500 GB Hard Drive. Can be replaced with any 2.5" hard drive, including SSDs.
  • Blu-ray drive rated for 6x speed, or about 27 MB per second.

  • 1080p output standard.
  • 4K Resolution support for some content.
  • OpenGL 4.2 API support.
  • Performance rated at 25.6 gigapixels per second and 51.2 gigatexels per second.

  • 1 HDMI output port; 1 optical audio out port
  • 2 USB 3.0 ports
  • 1 Gigabit Ethernet port.
  • 802.11n and Bluetooth 2.1 wireless capabilities.
  • 1 Aux port for the PlayStation Eye camera

Games announced or released

Alternative Title(s):

Play Station 4