Sony Sheds More Light On PS4 Hardware

Sony shared more details on the PS4 today, including CPU specs, controller design decisions, and advanced information on the platform's API. We've known that the PS4 used an AMD Jaguar-derived core for months, but the new information today points to a standard implementation of AMD's reference design. The PS4 has two four-core Jaguar blocks. Each block shares a 2MB L2 cache and each core has a 32K L1 data cache.

That lines up with what AMD has said about Jaguar to-date and points to the chip's "semi-custom" status. What's more interesting is the API news. Sony claims that the PS4 will support a "DirectX 11.1+", with the plus standing for better debugger and more direct access to the shader pipeline. Exact details are few and far between, but since the GPU at the heart of the PS4 is based on Graphics Core Next, we don't expect enormous surprises.

That doesn't mean the Sony PS4 actually uses DirectX -- Sony's own API is dubbed the PlayStation Shader Language and dev tools for it run on Windows 7 64-bit. Virtual Studio plugins are also available for VS 2010 and 2012. Programmers will be able to talk to CPU and GPU simultaneously without suspending one task to run another.

Reading over the PS4's capabilities, it sounds as though the console implements some of the features AMD originally detailed for its 2013 HSA roadmap.

Sony's discussions of the PS4 continue to revolve around the console's memory capacity, and while that's partly smart marketing, it's also fair to say that it represents a major point of difference between the Xbox Durango and PS4. Microsoft's next-gen console doesn't offer nearly as much memory bandwidth, and Sony's talk of sharing function and synchronous operations implies it may be more advanced than what the Xbox offers.

According to Chris Norden, Sony Senior Staff Engineer, "you can't buy this [the system's RAM] for $50. That's why graphics card cost as much as they do." The system will also include a Blu-ray drive and a hard drive in every SKU, though these aren't surprising given that the PS3 also shipped with these capabilities first and foremost.

It still may take some time for developers to take full advantage of the PS4's hardware, but the company's early unveils are interesting. Microsoft's silence is increasingly letting Sony rule the communication roost and that may hurt the company in the not-too-distant future.