Sony is yet to confirm the existence of the PS4 games console, but it exists out there somewhere. And with Christmas 2012 upon us, we're all hoping we'll have PlayStation 4 consoles under our trees this time next year.
So the important questions are; when will the PS4 hit the shelves? What sort of hardware will it pack? And will it even be called the PlayStation 4?
There have been rumours doing the rounds suggesting that Sony is calling the PS4 'Orbis'. This comes from a source speaking to Kotaku "who is not authorised to talk publicly about next-gen hardware but has shared correct information" with them before.
Assuming the Orbis name is in some way accurate, it's still unclear whether the name is a codename like Durango or whether the console will literally be called the Sony PlayStation Orbis instead of the Sony PS4.
The name does make some kind of sense if you combine it with the word 'Vitae' (or Vita). Orbis Vitae translates from Latin as 'circle of life' and hints at some serious synergy between the PS4 and the PS Vita.
It could be a red herring, of course, but with the Vita already communicating fairly competently with the PS3, it seems highly likely that this will be the case. So what can we expect from the PlayStation 4?
PS4 release date
Latest rumours suggest that the PS4 will launch in time for Christmas 2013, though Sony are remaining quiet on the issue. We have received strong hints from industry insiders that 2013 will be the year but nothing is confirmed and anything could yet happen.
One thing's for sure: Sony is currently losing billions every year and badly needs the cash injection that would come from a new console.
VG247 is quoting an anonymous source (always a bad start to a rumour) as saying that Sony believes it is in a position to get the PS4 out of the door before the launch of Microsoft's Xbox 720. The next Xbox is almost certain to hit the shelves in 2013 so maybe we expect them to arrive roughly together.
We remember, of course, how Microsoft managed to launch the 360 a full year before the PS3 went on sale and that enabled it to gain a huge headstart, despite all sorts of technical faults and expensive repair bills.
Meanwhile, Bethesda's Todd Howard, game director for the blockbuster Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, says that gamers should not expect follow-ups to the PS3 and Xbox 360 until 2014, at the very earliest.
Speaking to PSM3 magazine, the Bethesda exec said that gamers were happy with the current generation of console tech and that he didn't expect to see an Xbox 720 or a PS4 before 2014.
Further sources said in December 2014 that they also believe Autumn 2014 is a more realistic date, so we're certainly not going to count any Turkeys this Christmas!
PS4: Graphics and CPU power
The same source who revealed the PlayStation Orbis name to Kotaku also mentioned that the PS4 was penciled in as packing an AMD x64 CPU and 28nm AMD Southern Islands graphics power.
The graphics part of the A10 APU is already quite dated, which is a big disappointment but not all that surprising.
Those chips aren't even the best that AMD currently has to offer - so by the time the PS4 goes on sale it would be woefully lacking in power compared to the latest AMD tech, let alone the most advanced chips from Nvidia and Intel.
By 2014, Intel will be shipping 14nm - or possibly even tooling up for 11nm - CPUs and with that amount of transistors on a die, we're talking serious performance and efficiency gains.
So it's for this reason that we suspect - or hope - that current PS4 development kits may currently be using these AMD chips, but the final PS4 will most likely pack something a little more special. We would at least expect a Steamroller APU packing a newer graphics core.
Now, because a console is a closed platform, it's possible for developers and engineers to squeeze more performance out of any given chip than would be possible in a PC which has a lot more redundancies to cater for.
So the PS4 will have decent graphics no matter what. But this is still very much last-generation tech we're talking here.
We don't think it would even be possible to achieve this kind of output with the A10 APU unless some kind of multi-GPU set-up is being used - so it's highly likely that Sony will pair the eventual APU with a low-end discrete graphics card to help things along.
When the original 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.
Blu-ray on the PlayStation 4 is a dead cert. While digital distribution is undoubtedly the way forward, not every PlayStation owner has access to a fast broadband connection.
As Kaz Hirai told Develop, "we do business in parts of the world where network infrastructure isn't as robust as one would hope. There's always going to be requirement for a business of our size and scope to have a physical medium."
As for the PlayStation 4 controller, Dr. Richard Marks (Sony Computer Entertainment's US R&D manager of special projects) says that "anything that lets us get the player's intent into the system more" is technology they'll be looking at. No brain wave gaming just yet.