I am privy to information that is under NDA and I can't share specific details but I will detail my thoughts to maybe give an idea of what I've seen and where I think they are going with this. At this moment in time I happen to know more about Durango than Orbis. I wrote a few pieces on a developers forum and since I don't have a lot to do I decided to copy and paste and rewrite some parts of it for Reddit. This is going to be long but somebody might like it. I'll break it down into sections so I don't put too many off. Ports: When the xbox came out it opened the doors for Bioware to do console development, up until that point Bioware had never released a game on a console but KOTOR was released on both the Xbox and PC. The thing about the Xbox was that it was so similar to a standard PC it just made financial sense to develop for it as it was so easy and didn't cost a lot. This current generation both Sony and Microsoft went with standard GPU's, this is why we have so many ports between the 360, PS3 and PC, go back to the previous PS2 generation and it would have been extremely costly and complex to do porting, Final Fantasy X would have been extremely difficult to get on an Xbox. If both the 720 and PS4 are running AMD CPU's then that is a revolution, what that means is every developer working on consoles and PC will have a grip on the architecture of all three platforms. The 720 is a Windows PC, the PS4 is a Linux PC. I was wondering how Valve were going to convince developers to put money into developing games for a Linux, they don't need to anymore, Sony just did that for them, porting to Linux just became trivial, you shouldn't be surprised if in a couple of years you end up seeing Max Payne 4 released simultaneously for your Windows or Linux PC, Steambox, 720 and PS4. How console development works and a few details about the CPU: It's worth noting that development kits don't ship with final hardware, they ship with an "approximation" of what the final hardware will look, the GPU in the xbox 360 was changed around 3 months before the final version came out, they could change the final hardware for either console at any time but with the development kits in later stages we have a decent idea of what they are shooting for. The other thing to note is that both consoles have been in development for at least a year, maybe two. The way it works is that Microsoft will pop over to AMD and say "what are you guys working on" and then AMD will show them and Microsoft will say "hey I like that, can you guys set up a second team and develop a version for our needs". AMD were working on these "Jaguar" cores for a while and they probably made a second team to work on a version for Microsoft's console. The AMD Jaguar cores are designed to be extremely low powered and they have numerous power saving features. Nowadays you don't really need a very powerful CPU since the GPU can do a lot more. The benefit of 8 cores is that you can switch off the cores that you aren't using. Imagine having a 2 core processor, it consumes 20 watts and each core is quite powerful. Now that 8 core processor, it also consumes 20 watts however each core is weaker than the 2 core processor. However the benefit is that if you can use all 8 cores you can get some serious performance out of it and on the other hand if you only need 1 core, when you switch off the other 7 cores you will only be consuming a measly 2.5 watts. Basically the AMD processor will not kick your i5 or i7's arse but it doesn't need to. Furthermore with this set up you can still call on a lot of power but you can also switch off what you don't need. You might boot up on your 720 and watch Netflix with one core working and the graphics card off, then you boot up Trine 2 and you have 4 cores and 20% of your GPU working, then you put on Battlefield 4 and the 8 cores and 100% of the GPU are singing. AMD are a big believer in heterogeneous computing, in other words everything works together and what isn't needed doesn't draw power, this could be exciting if they pull it off. The graphics card: On the GPU part, about a few months ago me and colleagues were speculating about what we would see. In the end we whittled it down to two "performance envelopes". One was equivalent to a HD 7850-7870 and the other was equivalent to a GTX 680. It's worth noting that we didn't expect them to throw a GTX 680 in there, we just expected hardware that with the appropriate coding would perform to a similar level. I have to say I was holding out for GTX 680 like performance. The significance of that would have been the possibility of games that look something like Samaritan demo or Agni's Philosophy. Unfortunately at this moment in time it looks like we will be going for something closer to a 7850 but it's worth noting this could change even only months before launch. Either way the current configuration, with writing to the metal we should be able to probably get Battlefield 3 on high with most or all settings turned up full running at 1080P and 60FPS. It's nothing to sneer at but part of me is still holding out for even better. After all consider that if the next generation consoles come out in 2014 by 2016 they will be "base platforms" as PC's will have grown in power. Now if they can get Agni's Philosophy running on a base platform then imagine what they could do with a mid range or high end PC. Either way though with what we know about things expect a giant leap, consoles have an edge since you don't have API overhead, you write to the metal. Even a 7850 equivalent in a console is a big big jump up. Sony and Microsoft's apparent strategy for next-gen consoles: Last thing I want to say about this is that it seems like Microsoft and Sony are taking different approaches. Microsoft are going with slower DDR RAM but more of it, they seem to be "saving" a lot of RAM for OS functions, in other words it looks like Microsoft have some sort of plans, maybe Kinect 2.0 or something. Sony on the other hand went with less RAM but it is faster GDDR RAM and Sony are also seemingly spending more money on the GPU. In other words the way it looks the PS4 will be engineered to be a pure gaming machine with more power, the 720 will fall in between the PS4 and Wii U in terms of power. It's interesting though because Microsoft are intent on saving a lot of money on memory and GPU from the looks of it and then they allocate a lot of RAM for some sort of software function. I'm thinking maybe it might actually be true that Kinect 2.0 is going to ship with all 720's, I thought it would be too expensive but considering how much they would save by going for slower RAM and a lower powered GPU and the fact that they are allocating a huge 3GB to software functions Kinect 2.0 makes sense. I have to confess I am a little disappointed with Microsoft's direction and I like the fact that Sony are so intent on lavishing every penny on making it a monster console. The two consoles from the looks of it should cost around the same but a lot of the money for the 720 will seemingly go to Kinect 2.0 while Sony will invest all that money in faster RAM and a more powerful GPU. TL;DR/What to expect: The first version of the next generation consoles should draw less power than the first version versions of the 360 and PS3 which means there probably won't be a power brick and the cases might be a little smaller too. With sufficient RAM resolution becomes "cheap" so you won't be sacrificing much visual detail by going to a higher resolution, in other words 1080P and 60 FPS should be the standard across the entire board. You should have a sleek quiet little box that sits under your TV, has power gating so when you are Netflixing it sips only a tiny amount of power but stays quiet and relatively cool even when it's running full power. Your games will look around Battlefield 3 on high with most/all settings maxed, 1080P60. Basically as a console gamer you will see a huge leap and everybody else will see incredible bang for buck. The next generation consoles are being designed in mind with components that should mean they can be sold for less and still make a profit. It seems like neither Microsoft nor Sony will subsidise their next generation consoles, they will make a profit with every console sold. In fact they might be able to make a profit with a launch price of $300 to $350 though of course they could sell it for more and just make bigger margins. Either way though this is a healthier strategy and if they don't go for huge margins you should be able to pick one up for a reasonable price. It also seems like Sony and Microsoft could each match each other for price, one companies console doesn't seem to cost much more to make than the others.Source: http://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/16tttt/orbis_unmasked_what_to_expect_from_the_nextgen/c7zfgtg Discuss.
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"Last thing I want to say about this is that it seems like Microsoft and Sony are taking different approaches. Microsoft are going with slower DDR RAM but more of it, they seem to be "saving" a lot of RAM for OS functions, in other words it looks like Microsoft have some sort of plans, maybe Kinect 2.0 or something. Sony on the other hand went with less RAM but it is faster GDDR RAM and Sony are also seemingly spending more money on the GPU. In other words the way it looks the PS4 will be engineered to be a pure gaming machine with more power, the 720 will fall in between the PS4 and Wii U in terms of power. It's interesting though because Microsoft are intent on saving a lot of money on memory and GPU from the looks of it and then they allocate a lot of RAM for some sort of software function. I'm thinking maybe it might actually be true that Kinect 2.0 is going to ship with all 720's, I thought it would be too expensive but considering how much they would save by going for slower RAM and a lower powered GPU and the fact that they are allocating a huge 3GB to software functions Kinect 2.0 makes sense. I have to confess I am a little disappointed with Microsoft's direction and I like the fact that Sony are so intent on lavishing every penny on making it a monster console."
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