Sony Unveils PlayStation 4

It’s been seven years since Sony released PlayStation 3, so PlayStation 4 (PS4) is long overdue. According to Sony, this will arrive in time for the holidays, and there is no official word on what the price might be. Whatever it is, it will not be cheap. There also were no official pictures or prototypes presented in the announcement.

Despite that, Sony announced that PS4 will be equipped with a graphics processing unit (GPU) that has been enhanced 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. Additionally, it sports 8GB of unified system memory

Social interaction is a key component to the PS4 experience, so new features were built into the actual foundation of the system’s hardware architecture. It provides a dedicated “always on” video compression and decompression system that enables seamless uploading of gameplay. You can share your epic triumphs with the simple press of the “SHARE” button on your controller, scan through the last few minutes of gameplay, tag it and return to the game – the video will upload as you play. You can share your images and videos with your friends on Facebook.

You also can broadcast your gameplay in real-time to friends using live Internet streaming services such as Ustream. During your live broadcasts, friends can make comments on the streamed gameplay and, if a you get stuck on a challenging level, your friends can join the game by offering health potions or special weapons when a player needs them most during actual gameplay.

Furthermore, with your Facebook account connected with the Sony Entertainment Network through your PS4, you can deepen your connections through co-op play or “cross-game chat.” Of course, you’ll see the usual streaming apps: Netflix, Hulu and Vudu as well.

Another new and great feature is that PS4 integrates second screens to wrap you in your favorite content wherever you go.

Remote Play enables your PS Vita or iPhone/iPod/iPad (via a free app) to be the perfect companion device. PS4 radically reduces the lag time between players and their content. The PS4’s “suspend mode” keeps the system in a low power state while preserving your game session. The time it takes today to boot a console and load a saved game will be a thing of the past. With a PS4, you’ll just hit the power button again and be promptly back playing the game at the exact point where you left off. Additionally, you can boot a variety of applications, including a Web browser, while simultaneously playing a game.

Your PS4 also will enable you to download and update games in the background, or even in standby mode. The system takes it one step further by making digital titles playable as they are being downloaded. When you purchases a game, PS4 downloads just a fraction of the data so you can start playing immediately, and the rest is downloaded in the background during actual game-play.

Last but not least, the graphics look amazing – at least according to what Sony showed at the press conference. We’ll just have to wait for Sony to release more details. I’m looking forward to it!