Sony Reveals Further Details on PS4 at GDC

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SANFRACISCO – at GDC today, as part of a PlayStation 4 developer panel, Sony Senior Staff Engineer Chris Norden revealed greater technical detail on some of the PlayStation 4's underlying hardware, including the 64-bit x86 CPU, the DualShock 4 controller, the PS4 Eye depth sensing camera and so forth. Meanwhile, Sony teased that the next-generation platform will have a "very large" hard drive, but would not give a specific figure. While all of this information is not finalized and subject to change, the presentation gave us deepest look yet at Sony's next generation of console hardware.


It will feature a 64-bit x86 architecture, with what Sony refers to as minimal power consumption, eight cores and hardware threads with 2MB L2 cache for each of the four-core groups (each of which also has a 32kb L1 I/D-cache). The processor will be able to handle things like atomics, threads, fibers, and ULTs, with out-of-order execution and advanced ISA. The PS4's dev tools run on Windows 7 64-bit, and PS4-specific tools have been integrated with Microsoft's Visual Studio 2010 and 2012. This includes the PlayStation Shader Language, which provides for functionality comparable or better than DirectX 11.0 and OpenGL 4.0, including tessellation support.

Sony is building its CPU on what it's calling an extended DirectX 11.1+ feature set, including extra debugging support that is not available on PC platforms. This system will also give developers more direct access to the shader pipeline than they had on the PS3 or through DirectX itself. "This is access you're not used to getting on the PC, and as a result you can do a lot more cool things and have a lot more access to the power of the system," Norden said. A low-level API will also let coders talk directly with the hardware in a way that's "much lower-level than DirectX and OpenGL," but still not quite at the driver level.


The system is also set up to run graphics and computational code synchronously, without suspending one to run the other. Norden says that Sony has worked to carefully balance the two processors to provide maximum graphics power of 1.843 teraFLOPS at an 800Mhz clock speed while still leaving enough room for computational tasks. The GPU will also be able to run arbitrary code, allowing developers to run hundreds or thousands of parallelized tasks with full access to the system's 8GB of unified memory.

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