What we know about the new PlayStation 4

By Jeff Peterson

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 26 2013 5:10 p.m. MST

Andrew House, president and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, introduces the PlayStation 4 for the first time.

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.

Enlarge photo»

It’s official — the PlayStation 4 is on its way.

On Feb. 20, in a two-hour press event that was streamed live on the PlayStation website and on Ustream, Sony at last unveiled the highly anticipated successor to its PlayStation 3 video game console, offering millions of fans a glimpse at the future of gaming.

Here’s a quick look at what we know about the PS4.

System specs

Prior to the event, there had been a lot of speculation that instead of offering huge technological upgrades over current-generation systems, the PS4 would take a cue from Nintendo’s Wii U and merely focus on new ways to play.

Right off the bat, though, that rumor was crushed when PS4 lead system architect Mark Cerny was invited to unveil the new console’s specs. What he revealed is an exponential boost in processing power, graphical capabilities and memory.

In terms of its internal tech, the PS4 is basically a high-end gaming PC.

In fact, one of the big changes to the new console over its predecessor comes in the form of the PS4’s new CPU, an X86 processor commonly found in PCs that should also help make the PS4 much more developer-friendly than the PS3.

As Cerny put it, “The (PS4’s) architecture is like a PC, but supercharged to bring out its full potential as a gaming platform.”

A portion of the PS4’s processing power, though, is being diverted to solve one of gaming’s biggest annoyances: load times. If Cerny is to be believed, with the PS4, waiting while the console starts up or a game loads will be a thing of the past thanks to a new instant on feature.

Rather interestingly, the PS4 will also have a separate chip specifically for uploading and downloading content, making it possible, for example, to begin playing a game before it’s fully downloaded onto the device.

A slew of new social capabilities and cross-platform connectivity

One of the main points emphasized during Sony’s presentation was its commitment to bring social interaction to the forefront of the gaming experience in a way unlike anything seen on previous consoles.

The PS4 will offer an array of new social capabilities like the option to quickly post videos of gameplay on social networking sites, send and receive messages among friends (even while playing completely different games), spectate other players and reach out to them when they’re in trouble mid-game.

Sony also promised to make games more accessible than ever. In a move reminiscent of the Wii U’s GamePad, PS4 titles will be playable on Sony’s handheld PlayStation Vita device.

Additionally, gamers will also have access in some form or another to their games via PCs, tablets and smartphones, although it’s still not completely clear to what extent.

In one of the biggest announcements of the event, Sony revealed a new PlayStation Cloud gaming service.

Along with hosting some of the social media features already mentioned, the service will allow gamers to instantly try out any title for free without having to download anything.

What’s more, Sony outlined plans to make PS1, PS2 and PS3 titles all available to play via the PlayStation Cloud.

A redesigned controller

Unfortunately, the big no-show of the night was the PS4 itself. Sony kept its new console under wraps, focusing instead on new gaming features and software.

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