It's game on in the next generation of the console wars. Sony has announced its long-awaited, highly anticipated PlayStation 4. Andrew House, president and Group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, confirmed speculation that console previously codenamed Orbis would ship as the PS4. Touting the system as a product made "by game creators, for game creators," Sony's Mark Cerny outlined some key specs of the nascent system.
Modeling itself after a supercharged PC, the PS4 will feature an 8-core x86 CPU, 8GB of GDDR memory and an enhanced GPU. The combined power will enable the system to deliver 170 GBps of bandwidth. The system will also feature a local HDD for storage.
Thanks to a secondary processor, the PS4 can upload and download in the background or even while the system is off, eliminating the long game and system updates that plagued the PlayStation 3. This also gives gamers the ability to play digital titles as they're being downloaded.
Cerny also showed off the new DualShock 4 controller with a touchpad, enhanced rumble capabilities, headphone jack and lightbar. The lightbar works in conjunction with a camera system, called the Playstation 4 Eye, that gauges depth and how far the player is from the system. The controller also features a Share button that enables gamers to share recorded clips some their more epic exploits. The Share button speaks to Sony's strategy to make gaming a more social activity.
In addition to sharing game clips, players can also jump into a friend's game to lend a helping hand or post comments. Sony has also partnered with Facebook and Ustream, potentially giving players the ability to schedule and broadcast their gaming to an audience ala TwitchTV.
As suspected, Sony will be incorporating cloud gaming into the mix by way of its acquisition of cloud gaming service Gaikai. Dave Perry, Gaikai founder and CEO, announced that gamers will be able to use the service's tech to instantly stream games. Gamers will also have the ability to take titles for a test drive before deciding on a purchase.
Perry also floated the possibility of using Gaikai's to stream games from PS3, 2 and 1 with a nebulous "someday." Sony didn't leave PS Vita owners in the cold, announcing a Remote Play system that will finally let gamers play their console games on their Vita when the need arises.
Despite all the hoopla, it should be noted that aside from the new controller, Sony didn't actually show the PS4 console itself. We'll make an educated guess that they're not letting the cat out of the bag until this year's E3.