New PlayStation 4 Dev Kits Released To Select Developers

For us regular joes, the PlayStation 4 is still a somewhat mythical device that we don’t expect to see in the flesh any time soon. Most people are predicting the new Sony console will launch in time for next holiday season, which gives us plenty more waiting time. For developers, though, the PS4 is very much a thing that exists, and the latest version of the PS4 dev kit will be showing up in their offices shortly.

A report from VG247 has some details on the second iteration of the PS4 dev kit, which is apparently housed in a regular PC case, but has hardware that has begun to resemble the final specs for the retail PS4. The first version of the dev kit was still quite distant from the  final hardware, and subsequent versions will come to resemble an actual PS4 more and more. Sony plans to have four generations of the dev kit, with the third version arriving in January, and the final version showing up next summer.

As for the hardware itself, the “Orbis” dev kit (which is what Sony is calling it in developer meetings) has an AMD A10 chip that serves as an “APU.” Basically, they’ve stuffed the CPU and GPU into a single chip, and they’re calling it an “accelerated processing unit.” The actual performance specs of such a chip are still unknown, but the end goal is to have a console that can run 1080p games at 60fps, and in 3D. To help with this the dev kits have either 8 or 16GB or RAM. (Dev kits usually have double what the retail console will have.)

Many of the amenities from the PS3 will make the jump to the new hardware, too, such as a Blu-ray drive, Wi-Fi, and HDMI output. No word on backwards compatibility yet, but the fact that they’re completely switching architectures away from the cell processors of the current gen console means backwards compatibility would be challenging to implement, and is an unlikely inclusion.

The official announcement of the PlayStation 4 is rumored to happen “just before E3″ next year, which takes place in early June.

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