[UPDATE] PlayStation 4 Hardware Explained: x86 APU and GDDR5 Memory

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Published by GameFront.com 8 years ago , last updated 2 years ago

Posted on February 20, 2013, Devin Connors [UPDATE] PlayStation 4 Hardware Explained: x86 APU and GDDR5 Memory

UPDATE: Sony Computer Entertainment International has released a PDF with additional hardware info. SCEI has confirmed that the PS4 has an eight-core AMD “Jaguar” CPU, a “next generation” Radeon GPU with 1.84 Teraflops (TFLOPS) of computing power, and both USB 3.0 and gigabit Ethernet on-board. Other par-for-the-course specs include digital optical out, HDMI, Bluetooth 2.1, 802,11n wireless, and a Blu-ray drive.

The PlayStation 4 press conference just ended. While everyone goes batty over the first- and third-party game demos, this post is all about the PS4 hardware and what we know for sure so far.

The memory specs were made official, and in no uncertain terms. The PS4 will be shipping with 8 GB of unified system memory, which is leagues beyond what any current-gen console has. The memory isn’t DDR3 or DDR4, mind you, but GDDR5, the same high-end RAM found in your favorite mid- to high-end graphics cards. Assuming the PS4 maintains some sort of long-term life cycle (another eight years perhaps?), the use of GDDR5 should keep developers happy for the foreseeable future.

A few CPU and GPU specs were confirmed, although the make, model and speed of both is still up in the air. What is known so far is that both parts – or rather, the APU that houses both chips – is comprised of an eight-core x86 CPU, and an “enhanced” PC graphics part. The rest is educated speculation, as the x86 architecture means it’s Intel or AMD, and the use of the APU moniker means it almost has to be the latter. Following that little logic train, the GPU also has to be an AMD part, since both chips are on the same piece of silicon. “AMD Inside” falls in line with the rumors that the struggling chipmaker locked up both the PS4 and the next Xbox. Another secondary chip was also confirmed – one that specifically handles uploading and downloading – but no specs were discussed.

The AMD APU design is nothing new — you can buy a quad-core APU on Newegg for $130. This custom PS4 part might be a built-to-spec piece of tech, or it could be an existing SKU heavily modified for Sony, like two PC APUs smashed together with one GPU, perhaps. Either way, AMD has been using this tech in PCs for years, so don’t expect anything comparable to the Cell processor in terms of complexity. The aforementioned rumors point to a high-end 7000 series card, but at this point we’re settling on some sort of AMD GPU using Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture.

Sony has also confirmed the inclusion of a  local hard drive, although no mention of what kind or speed was made. Could it be an SSD? Or will Sony go for size over speed and opt for a massive mechanical hard drive? E3 will likely hold the answer to that, but the use of the word “massive” means it’s probably a platter-based solution.

We’ll be sure to keep our eyes peeled for more PS4 hardware news, but everything should be solidified at E3 this summer.

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