When it comes to rumours about the next Xbox, there’s some wild speculation to get your teeth into.
Over on the PlayStation 4 rumour mill, things are turning much slower. As Kaz Hirai said recently, “we’re not deliberating on a PS4 or a next generation machine, whatever you call it.”
But if Microsoft is now hiring engineers to spec the next Xbox, what could we expect from the PlayStation 4?
The PS4 specs could abandon the Cell processor and return to x86…
In February, there were rumours of a failed Sony/IBM research project to develop a PowerPC chip for future PlayStations. Going forward, Sony will surely stick with the advanced, multi-core, bitch-to-develop-for Cell processor that it dropped $3 billion on. Here are three reasons why:
1. Easy backwards compatibility with the PlayStation 3
2. A familiar development environment. By 2015 (or whenever a PS4 comes out), games developers will have had much more experience working with Cell and its software tools
3. Toshiba recently sold its Cell factory in Nagasaki back to Sony for £400 million. Sony is hardly going to abandon the chip now it owns the means to manufacture it in bulk
What are the PS4 features we’d most like to see?
PS4info dreams of a next-gen PlayStation with a 32nm Cell processor an up to 16 SPEs, double the number in the PlayStation 3. While over on gamrConnect, there’s talk of a greater partnership with Google. Sony’s new fondness for Android on the Xperia Play is an interesting strategy.
Blu-ray on the PlayStation 4 is a dead cert. While digital distribution is undoubtedly the way forward, not every PlayStation owner has access to a fast broadband connection.
As Kaz Hirai told Develop, “we do business in parts of the world where network infrastructure isn’t as robust as one would hope. There’s always going to be requirement for a business of our size and scope to have a physical medium.”
As for the PlayStation 4 controller, Dr. Richard Marks (Sony Computer Entertainment’s US R&D manager of special projects) says that “anything that lets us get the player’s intent into the system more” is technology they’ll be looking at. No brain wave gaming just yet.
What about a PS4 release date?
Tricky. If you side with the likes of ITProPortal, you might believe that “the whole concept of a single lounge-bound gaming device may become obsolete”. The future of gaming may well lie in a more portable device/controller that you can play on the move or plug into your TV. Epic’s Mark Rein has some interesting thoughts on this here.
Sony claims that the PS3 will have a 10 year lifecycle, suggesting the next PlayStation will arrive by the end of 2016 at the latest. Or we might not get a PlayStation 4 at all. Developers haven’t yet maxed out the potential of the PS3, while the release of PlayStation Move has given it an extra dimension…
“Where we go after this is an interesting one,” says Sony Computer Entertainment UK boss Ray Maguire. “The online side is very interesting and is a big part of our business going forward. But in terms of what sort of technology we’ll be using, it’s far too early to say yet because we’re only half way through the lifecycle of PS3 – there are many years to come on that machine.”
Long live PlayStation 3.
Founder of GamertechTV, and EIC, executive editor of GamertechTV Read more from this author