The PlayStation 4 exists and it's coming to a living room near you – and since you're reading this, possibly even your own.
No one has seen it yet. No one has felt its smooth edges, and no one has smelled its new console smell. But we know that developers are working on games, and on February 20 Sony has scheduled a big reveal where we're likely to get official confirmation of everything we already know through various reports and links.
As well as our comprehensive article, we've also put together a video containing all the latest PS4 news and rumours, which you can check out below:
For a long time it was rumoured that the PS4 would be powered by AMD hardware in both CPU and GPU form. Leaks from a multitude of sources have confirmed these rumours, which means we know a surprising amount about the PS4's innards.
The PS4 will back the same CPU as the Xbox 720 but will have more powerful graphics. The beating heart of both consoles will come in the form of an AMD processor based on its forthcoming Jaguar CPU architecture. The chip packs eight cores (yay) but is clocked at a measly 1.6GHz (boooo). The main benefit of a setup like this is that the console will be very power efficient, meaning less draw and quieter operation, i.e. no need for any mahoosive, loud and invasive cooling fans.
The drawback of this CPU - and it's a real biggie - is that it is, frankly, an incredibly mediocre chip in this modern age. It's third-tier tech even by AMD's standards, and thus is absolutely no match for even budget Intel processors. The current batch of eight core Intel Xeon processors are simply in a different universe.
To put this performance gap into perspective, the current AMD Bobcat cores - which is the tech the Jaguar platform is based on - are roughly 1,400 per cent slower than Intel's £250 3770K Ivy Bridge Core i7 chip. Yeah, we know.
So the processing power is nothing to write home about, then. The graphics, meanwhile, are also provided by AMD - specifically a Radeon GPU with 18 GCN units. That may sound a like a lot of techy mumbo jumbo but what it essentially means is that the GPU packs 18 processing clusters, each packing up to 64 cores. That provides a lot of parallel processing power, and will thus handle the majority of the PS4's grunt work.
It's a lot more impressive than the Jaguar CPU but still no match for the latest gaming PCs, and that's a shame. It should be enough, though, to make a big step up from the current graphics in PS3 games and so while it may not be as spectacular as we'd like, we think most people won't be disappointed in this regard.
Current PS4 dev kits come packing just 4GB RAM - though we've heard whispers that the retail units will sport 8GB - of the super-fast GDDR5 variety. That's lovely, and should lubricate the machine to ensure speedy operation and game-loading.
It has been reported that the PS4 will pack around 1.84 teraflops of overall raw computation power. Frankly, though, that's a meaningless number as far as we're concerned and we wouldn't get too excited or disappointed about it if we were you.
Yeah, the PS4 will almost certainly be able to exude some kind of Ultra HD output. It's unlikely to be capable of native 4K gaming, but there will certainly be enough graphics grunt to upscale Full HD content to 4K resolution. And with Sony heavily invested in 4K from a content and hardware perspective, it would be a huge surprise if PS4 failed to join the 4K bandwagon.
PS4 release date
Sony has scheduled a big PS4 reveal in New York on 20th February. We expect to find out what the console looks like, what it will actually be called, what the specs are, what the launch titles will be and how much it will cost, among other details.
The PS4 release date is highly likely to be Christmas 2013 for Japan and North America, but we'd be very surprised if the UK and Europe get their PS4 release before Jan/Feb 2014. This is pretty much what happened with Sony's previous consoles and is backed up by various leaks and rumours. At least you'll have plenty of time to save up if you live outside of Japan or the USA.
PS4 price: how much will it cost?
Again, this is based on various rumours from a collection of sources but it looks currently as though Sony has a price point of around $400 in mind for the US launch. That translates to around £255 so you can expect the UK price to be more like £299.
When the original PS3 unit shipped, it contained a chip that gave it the ability to play PS2 games. Subsequent iterations of hardware omitted this chip and so the backwards compatibility was condemned to death.
Current rumours suggests that the PS4 will completely ignore the possibility of backwards compatibility and focus firmly on the next generation. So if you want to continue playing your PS3 games, keep hold of your PS3s, kids.
Second-hand games on the way out?
More rumours suggest that Sony is going in the same direction as Microsoft in that it wants to kill off the second hand games market. Current industry wisdom suggests that future PS4 games might be tied to your Sony Entertainment Network account and will thus then have no resale value. That's a similar approach as used by PC developers using Steam so we reckon this is a likely development. Doesn't mean we're happy about it, though. But again, perhaps will find out more on this side of things on February 20.
The PS4 controller
Rumour has it that the PS4's control pad will be similar in shape and size to the current DualShock 3 pad, only with a Vita-like touch-sensitive surface where the Select/Start/Analogue buttons currently reside. We imagine the pad will include a host of more advanced motion-sensitive components, too.
A recent leak of the above image of a PS4 development controller seems to back this up. It even has a glowing strip on the front - obviously a PlayStation Move-compatible feature, there.
We understand that the PS4 will launch alongside a new PS Eye camera for improved motion control gaming. This will so-say be compatible with current Move controllers, but the exciting part is the potential for Kinect-like full-body gaming.
What will the PS4 actually be called?
The internal codename for the PS4 is Orbis, but we'd be hugely surprised if the PS4 doesn't launch as… the PlayStation 4. Stranger things have happened but we think PS4 is a safe bet.