A closer look at the PS4’s specs

10 min read


Sony may not have shown the actual PlayStation 4 – but it did release some of the system’s hardware specifications – and they’re pretty damned impressive for console hardware. Of course, to any hardcore PC gamer the specs seem underwhelming at first glance – but what PC gamers always forget is that when it comes to consoles, it’s not an apples to apples comparison. The machine has fewer system overheads, and developers are granted low-level access to hardware – and are thus able to do so much more with similar specs. Let’s take a look inside the box.

Here’s what’s inside:

  • CPU: Custom AMD Jaguar-based APU chip containing eight X86-64 cores. As it’s APU based, it includes an on-die GPU that’ll be used for physics and AI calculations.
  • GPGPU: AMD Next-generation Radeon based  array of 18 complete units generating 1.84 Teraflops of processing power
  • 8 GB of unified GDDR5 RAM: GDDR5 is generally used for video ram and is much more suited to transferring large amounts of data rapidly thanks to a much higher memory bandwidth. In short, it’s fast, and offers up to twice the speed of the DDR3 that’s usually used for system memory.

It’s something that Sony’s calling “Supercharged PC Architecture” – because it is intrinsically PC hardware, repurposed for console use. As stated though, it’ll have much lower system overheads and developers will have direct access to the hardware – so they’ll be able to use this hardware to produce significantly more impressive stuff than if you took the same hardware for use in a PC.


Consider for a moment that the current consoles are still capable of producing impressive visuals and gaming experiences – and that the Ps3 has a paltry 512Mb of RAM, split evenly between system and video. The PlayStation 4 has 16 times the RAM – unified, much like the Xbox 360’s memory –so developers can split it whichever way they choose.

It’s pretty forward thinking impressive stuff – and the next gen is going to be a lot prettier than I had anticipated.

Full press release below.

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Introduces PlayStation®4 (PS4™)
PS4’s Powerful System Architecture, Social Integration and Intelligent Personalization, Combined with PlayStation Network with Cloud Technology, Delivers Breakthrough

Gaming Experiences and Completely New Ways to Play

NEW YORK, Feb. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) today introduced PlayStation®4 (PS4™), its next generation computer entertainment system that redefines rich and immersive gameplay with powerful graphics and speed, intelligent personalization, deeply integrated social capabilities, and innovative second-screen features. Combined with PlayStation®Network with cloud technology, PS4 offers an expansive gaming ecosystem that is centered on gamers, enabling them to play when, where and how they want. PS4 will be available this holiday season.

Gamer Focused, Developer Inspired
PS4 was designed from the ground up to ensure that the very best games and the most immersive experiences reach PlayStation gamers. PS4 accomplishes this by enabling the greatest game developers in the world to unlock their creativity and push the boundaries of play through a system that is tuned specifically to their needs.

PS4 also fluidly connects players to the larger world of experiences offered by PlayStation, across the console and mobile spaces, and PlayStation® Network (PSN).
The PS4 system architecture is distinguished by its high performance and ease of development. PS4 is centered around a powerful custom chip that contains eight x86-64 cores and a state of the art graphics processor.

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The Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) has been enhanced in a number of ways, principally to allow for easier use of the GPU for general purpose computing (GPGPU) such as physics simulation. The GPU contains a unified array of 18 compute units, which collectively generate 1.84 Teraflops of processing power that can freely be applied to graphics, simulation tasks, or some mixture of the two.
PS4 is equipped with 8 GB of unified system memory, easing game creation and increasing the richness of content achievable on the platform. GDDR5 is used for this memory, giving the system 176 GB/second of bandwidth and providing a further boost to graphics performance.
The end result for gamers is new games with rich, high-fidelity graphics and deeply immersive experiences that shatter expectations.

Shared Game Experiences
Social interaction is central to PS4 experiences, so new features were built into the actual foundation of the system’s hardware architecture. PS4 provides dedicated, “always on” video compression and decompression systems that enables seamless uploading of gameplay. For the first time ever, gamers can share their epic triumphs with the press of a button. Gamers simply hit the “SHARE button” on the controller, scan through the last few minutes of gameplay, tag it and return to the game-the video uploads as the gamer plays. Gamers can share their images and videos to their friends on social networking services such as Facebook.
PS4 also enhances social spectating by enabling gamers to broadcast their gameplay in real-time to friends using live internet streaming services such as Ustream. During live broadcasts, friends can make comments on the streamed gameplay and, if a gamer gets stuck on a challenging level, friends can also join the game in completely new ways. For example, friends can offer health potions or special weapons when a player needs them most during actual gameplay.
Furthermore, users can connect their Facebook account with Sony Entertainment Network account. Through PS4, users are able to deepen their connections through co-op play or “cross-game chat”.

PS4 Second Screens
PS4 integrates second screens, including PlayStation®Vita (PS Vita), smartphones and tablets, to wrap gamers in their favorite content wherever they are. A key feature enabled by second screens is “Remote Play” and PS4 fully unlocks its potential by making PS Vita the ultimate companion device. With PS Vita, gamers will be able to seamlessly pull PS4 titles from their living room TVs and play them on PS Vita’s beautiful 5-inch display and intuitive dual analog sticks over Wi-Fi networks*1. It is SCEI’s long-term vision is to make most PS4 titles playable on PS Vita*2.
A new application from SCE called “PlayStation®App” will enable iPhone, iPad, and AndroidTM based smartphones and tablets*3 to become second screens. Once installed on these devices, users can, for example, see maps on their second screens when playing an adventure game, purchase PS4 games while away from home and download it directly to the console at home, or remotely watch other gamers playing on their devices.

Immediate Gameplay

PS4 radically reduces the lag time between players and their content. PS4 features “suspend mode” which keeps the system in a low power state while preserving the game session. The time it takes today to boot a console and load a saved game will be a thing of the past. With PS4, gamers just hit the power button again and are promptly back playing the game at the exact point where they left off. Additionally, users can boot a variety of applications including a web browser when playing a game on PS4.
PS4 also enables games to be downloaded or updated in the background, or even in stand-by mode. The system takes it one step further by making digital titles playable as they are being downloaded. When a player purchases a game, PS4 downloads just a fraction of the data so gamers can start playing immediately, and the rest is downloaded in the background during actual gameplay.

Personalized, Curated Content

On the newly designed PS4 menu screen, players can look over game-related information shared by friends, view friends’ gameplay with ease, or obtain information of recommended content, including games, TV shows and movies. The long-term goal of PS4 is to reduce download times of digital titles to zero: if the system knows enough about a player to predict the next game they will purchase, then that game can be loaded and ready to go before they even click the “buy” button. PS4 will further enrich users’ entertainment experiences, by meeting their potential needs.

Gaming in the Cloud

Launched in November 2006, PlayStation Network, a network service for PlayStation users, now operates in 67 countries and regions*4 around the world with the total number of downloaded content of more than 2.8 billion*5. In addition to a variety of games available in PlayStation®Store, PS4 users will be able to enjoy a variety of services offered by PSN, such as Sony Corporation’s Music Unlimited, a cloud-based music subscription service and Video Unlimited, a premium video service, as well as various content distribution services.

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By combining PlayStation Network with Gaikai Inc’s cloud technology, it is SCE’s goal to make free exploration possible for various games. In the future, when a gamer sees a title of interest in PlayStation Store, they can immediately start playing a portion of the actual game – not a stripped down version of the game. With Gaikai and PlayStation Store, gamers will be able to experience appealing games and only pay for the games they actually love. PlayStation Network and the cloud will offer additional value to PlayStation gamers. SCE is exploring unique opportunities enabled by cloud technology with the long-term vision of making PlayStation libraries including an incredible catalog of more than 3000 PS3 titles*6 that is unmatched in the industry, mostly ubiquitous on PS4.

SCE will announce new details of PS4 and its robust lineup of games from 3rd party developers and publishers, the independent gaming community and SCE Worldwide Studios, as well as further enhancements to the entire PlayStation ecosystem between now and the holiday 2013 launch.

Last Updated: February 21, 2013

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I’m old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time – they were capable of being masterpieces. I’m here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

  • Deon Steyn

    This is the biggest must have since I don’t know ADSL or DSTV.

    • Uberutang

      It will be a pretty crappy experience without internet. Most of the awesome features is based on internet and cloud connections.

      • El Huevo Grande

        I’m in Australia- Our internet here is average at best..
        I’m concerned with the way these consoles are moving that certain parts of the world will be left out to dry, or, alternatively, charged an arm and a leg by ISP’s to actually make use of this sort of thing.

        • Uberutang

          Yeah mate I hear you. Living in South Africa means slow internet services at high prices.

  • Trevor Davies

    AMD baby! I will now regard PS4 owners as half-brothers.

    • Admiral Chief Erwin

      Same here

    • I’ll go with distant cousins…

      • Andre116

        Distant cousins you want to have relations with or just distant cousins?

  • I don’t find the specs itself impressive, I am though, MUCH happier at the architecture and the fact that Sony is allowing easier access to the hardware and making development easier, that for me shows that Sony matured a hell of a lot. I just want developers to have a much more easier time developing games and hopefully that will allow some more freedom in the way games are made

  • FoxOneZA

    They should just call it P(S)C 4. The AMD APU’s have nothing amazing about them and their 8 core CPU’s have being meh in the PC world so it’s going to interesting to see how long the next-gen lasts, Probably shorter than this gen.

    • Uberutang

      Maybe the ‘lack’ of an OS and some good coding can improve on that? It is clear that the GPU will be doing the heavy lifting in this relationship 😛 and 8 gigs ddr5 memory does not hurt either!

      • FoxOneZA

        Yeah that’s true. The demo vid’s look impressive but nothing that we’ve already seen on PC. Good for a console non-the-less.

      • Willem Swanepoel

        nope. remember it is pretty pointless to have 8 cores and you only use 4 or 2 or 1 … sony gives the game dev companies 8 cores… it will be a waste if they only use 4. Same with the graphics card.. no point having that tech if you push out with average quality

        • mornelithe

          That’s how they continuously pump out better and better and better games over such a long period of time on console. Remember when the 360 launched, it’s first games weren’t as good looking as it’s most recent ones…right? Same with the PS3…PS2, Xbox, PS1 etc… Over time, they continue to milk it for all it’s worth.

    • ALKi1234

      There is a new cyber war on the horizon folks. Between pc and Console fanboys.

      • mornelithe

        Do I fight myself then? I own both! Noooo!

        • ALKi1234

          Off course you don’t,that would be stupid.

          • mornelithe

            lol, I was being facetious. Been up a little while 😉

          • Banana Jim

            See… See.. it’s not just me that get all funky without sleep 😛

  • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

    Those specs are incredible for a console. At first I was worried that the CPU was 32bits but thankfully Geoff has kindly pointed out I was wrong. I wouldn’t be surprised if this actually manages to keep up with pc level gfx

    • Admiral Chief Erwin

      *cough* amd *cough*

  • will this also be dubbed a “10 year console”?

    • Banana Jim

      The PS3 will be around well beyond the 10 year cycle (I doubt they’ll drop the PS3 as the PS4 rolls into stores). Of course, you might get more shovelware on it, a bit like how the PS2 existed while the PS3 was the main focus.

      • Fair enough…but how many PS2 games did Playstation owners buy a year after the PS3 release? Their hardware spin just ticked me off at the time.

        • Banana Jim

          Apparently quite a bit (and in South Africa a fair number). There was a think tank that had numbers for 2011 and the PS2 was a consistent seller throughout the PS3’s tenure. Will see where that dastardly pdf is now.

          • You keep record of that kinda stuff? I really can’t compete with someone who’s got that kind of ammo. Did some searching on Google. You can have my flag.

          • Banana Jim

            I try to keep up to date with gaming news, gaming politics and gaming trivia, so most of the really interesting stuff (like reports etc.) I have as pdfs to refer to down the line. But yeah, I’ve made a few mistakes in the past but that’s when I’m being cocky and far too reliant on memory.

            Old man brain isn’t as flawless as it used to be.. 🙁 OVG should know… heheheh his brain is cheddar cheese 😛

  • mornelithe

    As a PC Gamer, my only real issue with the PS3 and 360 when they launched was the hideous lack of RAM. I could care less than the 360’s was unified…660m of RAM is absolute bullshit for even 6 years ago, same with Sony. It’s my one beef with them going all the way back to the beginning of this cycle.

    Had they added more RAM, man…I can’t begin to tell you how much better things would’ve gone for both machines this generation. I’m glad Sony’s gotten on the bandwagon, and actually gone further by utilizing GDDR5, instead of DDR3. I’m sure Microsoft will pull their head out of their ass also (if the rumors are true), though it’ll have 16g with significantly slower memory bandwidth.

    I believe they said the memory bandwidth was in the area of 170g/s. Something like that.

    • undercoverMunky

      True – but remember consoles don’t have a bloated OS that eats half the RAM, they’re purpose built so they can get away with a lot less RAM.

      Having said that though, more RAM should mean faster load times and less compression required for textures etc.

      • mornelithe

        Unfortunately, they really didn’t get away with it. I mean, sure, there were some decent games this generation, would be lying to say otherwise. But, for a pittance in extra build costs, they could’ve done gamer’s (and developers) much, much better.

        Did you notice how as games got ‘prettier’ map sizes got smaller?

        It’s not all about graphics, I personally like the open world stuff, and games like GTA are ruined when you have to load a new area every 20 seconds.

      • Uberutang

        Luckily on a PC one can add more ram, and cheaply at that. Now sitting on 16 gigs and to go to 32 gigs wont be super expensive either…about the same cost as 2 PS4 games 😛

        • mornelithe

          Yeah, it’s one of the benefits of knowing how to build your own machine, and clearly one of the drawbacks to having static hardware. However, they’ve shown they can milk that hardware for a great deal of time heh (for better or for worse)

    • Willem Swanepoel

      as pc gamer, next gen console saved us 😉 now we can get more good looking games if they follow the bs port route

  • Well, it’s a decent midrange “PC”, and bear in mind that you can do a lot of stuff with hardware like this.

    • raidet

      There isn’t enough information to conclude that this is “midrange”. The CPU is an unspecified “custom” model, although the 8-core architecture indicates high-end rather than mid-range. The use of 8G of dual-purpose GDDR5 is completely unprecedented, and most important of all, the Radeon graphics hardware is completely unknown at this point. What we can see is certainly more interesting than “mid-range”, and more information about the Radeon architecture should hopefully confirm that we’re looking at a bit of a beast here.

      Another thing to bear in mind is the importance of the 8-core CPU architecture in a console. A PC with 8 cores will likely have precisely *zero* games or programs that utilise all those cores. A console though brings with it the single-minded development focus of its own ecosystem that will actually utilize this power in many cases.

      Basically, assuming the Radeon isn’t a total piece of crap, we’re looking at a damn fine architecture here.

      • Uberutang

        It is a amd Jaquar chipset. Evolved from the ‘bobcat’ chip. It is not a terrible chip, but neither is it ground breaking or even close to ‘modern’ intel chips when it comes to gaming performance. Just having more cores is not going to help if the transfer between them is slow.

        Having said that, I think is is good enough for what Sony is building. It will be huge improvement over the PS3 , even if just in terms of ease of use to programmers.

        The GPU they are adding is decent. Not overkill like Nvidia Titan or even up to where the latest AMD GPU’s run, but really not a slouch either. Pair that with the APU (CPU) and it can use ‘hyper crossfire’ that will further boost performance (128% reported on some tests).

        The choices Sony made for APU and GPU shows that they had things they wanted to achieve:

        1. Be more accessible to devs (x86)
        2. Low power use / low heat out put (both the apu and gpu is clocked down to make it run cooler and ddr5 memory is smaller and cooler than ddr3)

        The low heat will help with keeping the ‘box’ they ship it in from being to big and ungainly and help with preventing overheating issues.

  • Admiral Chief Erwin


    Seems like Sony recognizes true power!

  • CypherGate

    and yet…. Microsoft is quiet… hehehe

    • FoxOneZA

      The lion sleeps tonight -_____-

  • FoxOneZA

    PS 404!

  • Willem Swanepoel

    directx 11 games ? whoopwhoop

  • jesse white

    I am from the future and I can tell you this .the ps4 has win

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