PlayStation 4: New Controller, Fancy Accounts, Impressive Specs (So Far)

Last March, we gave you an early look at how the PlayStation 4 -- codenamed Orbis -- was shaping up. Nearly a year later, we're about to bring you a clearer, more timely update, including new technical specs and information on an upgrade to Sony's traditional controller design.

The information you're about to read comes from official Orbis documentation, a hive of more than 90 PDFs about the forthcoming console. The details of the files were shared with Kotaku by an individual known as SuperDae, the same person who last year attempted to sell a pair of next-gen Xbox development kits on eBay.

What follows won't tell you when the PS4/Orbis is coming out or even what it's destined to be called. Our best sources are mixed on whether the new Sony console will be out late this year, to match the expected launch of the next-generation Xbox, or whether Sony will wait until 2014. What you will learn about below are some of the guts of the console (as they stand for now, at least) and how it works. Some of those details were familiar, matching things we'd heard before; others were new and refreshingly specific.


We'll begin with the specs. And before we go any further, know that these are current specs for a PS4 development kit, not the final retail console itself. So while the general gist of the things you see here may be similar to what makes it into the actual commercial hardware, there's every chance some -- if not all of it -- changes, if only slightly.

That being the case, here's what we know is inside PS4 development kits -- model # DVKT-KS000K -- as of January 2013. As you'll see, some things have changed since earlier kits became available in March 2012.

  • System Memory: 8GB
  • Video Memory: 2.2GB
  • CPU: 4x Dual-Core AMD64 "Bulldozer" (so 8x cores)
  • GPU: AMD R10xx
  • Ports: 4x USB 3.0, 2x Ethernet
  • Drive: Blu-ray
  • HDD: 160GB
  • Audio Output: HDMI and Optical, 2.0, 5.1 & 7.1 channels

If you think the HDD is small, remember, these are the specs for a machine that developers are using to make games on, not the console you'll own and be storing media on. And don't worry about having two ethernet ports; as this is a dev kit, one is there for local sharing/testing purposes.

Interestingly, while some of these specs (such as the 8x core CPU) match with those reported by Digital Foundry only a few days ago, others like the RAM (DF reported 4GB of GDDR5, while we've heard 8GB) differ.

We've learned there's a headphone jack on the front of the console, but it's unclear whether that's just for dev kits or is an intended feature of the final retail console.


Ever since the release of the original PlayStation, Sony has maintained roughly the same basic controller design. This trend may be continuing with the PS4, because we've learned that developers are working with -- and dev kits support -- both the Sixaxis and DualShock 3 controller. This suggests that, for the most part, the design and capabilities of the PS4's controller will be similar to those on the PS3. The documentation also shows a Move controller, suggesting Sony's Wii-style motion wand will work with the new console.

There is a new controller in development for the PS4, though, known internally as the Orbis Development Tool, and while it keeps many of the same features as the current pads -- like the four iconic PlayStation face buttons, two thumbsticks and shoulder triggers -- there's one key addition.

The next PlayStation, at a glance

  • 8GB system memory, 2.2GB video memory
  • 4x Dual-Core AMD64 "Bulldozer" CPU, AMD R10xx Liverpool GPU
  • New controller features touch pad
  • Can link PSN accounts to controllers, allowing for multiple logins.

British site CVG speculated last week that, because they'd heard the PS4's controller was "trying to emulate the same user interface philosophies as the PS Vita", that meant it would feature a touch screen. Instead, the Orbis' controller features a capacitive touch pad, like you find on the back of a Vita (presumably it's also on the back of the PS4's controller), that can recognise two-point multi-touch. The entire pad can also be "clicked" for an additional input button.

The PS4's controller will again be capable of motion-sensing, like its PS3 predecessors, only now with improved technology like tilt correction. It will also feature vibration, which Sony has thankfully learned is a next-gen feature you need to launch with. It'll also have an RGB LED light in it.

While there have been reports of the PS4 controller featuring "biometric" technology, there was no mention of it in the information we were provided.

There's one other addition to the PS4's pad you won't find on a DualShock 3: a "Share" button. We're not exactly sure what it does. The most likely use would be to allow users to share some aspect of their gaming experience to Twitter or Facebook. Maybe a screenshot? We have no idea. But that Share button might have something to do with...


Sony is trying to change the way you think about user accounts with the PS4. As it stands now, and this applies to the PS3 (and the Wii U), when you log in, you log in as a single user. With Orbis, Sony is moving the place of "ownership" away from the console, with something it calls "multi-user simultaneous logins."

This means that the PS4 will let more than one person be logged into the same system at the same time. It achieves this by linking control pads to user accounts; as each new controller syncs with the system, that player's account can be logged in as well. Accounts won't be "locked" to a controller; you'll simply be prompted to sign in to an account every time an extra pad is connected to the console.

One application we learned about for this feature would be that, were four players in a co-op battle able to defeat a boss, then all four would receive trophies.

We only learned of this feature in relation to local accounts stored on the console itself. It's unclear whether you'd also be able to do this via the PlayStation Network if you were playing online.


That's it for now. Remember, none of this information is confirmed, and even the information that is locked down in January 2013 may change before the console's eventual release, which is likely not for at least another nine months, at minimum. This is just what we've been told Sony is working on and planning for as of today. That being the case, how do you think it's shaping up?


    What would the 2nd ethernet port be for?

    Edit: Probably for the 2nd account on reread.

    Last edited 24/01/13 10:32 am

      In the article...
      "And don’t worry about having two ethernet ports; as this is a dev kit, one is there for local sharing/testing purposes."

        Perhaps I should take the 2 min to read the whole article next time. Thanks.

      For plugging your spinal column into it. Technology... wow!

      Last edited 24/01/13 10:37 am

        Is it weird that I want this to be a thing? Every time I see a futuristic movie/anime/game where people are hooking themselves up to machines via installed ports I'm like "yeah I'd probably fork up for that surgery".

        Gimme one of the eyes from Deus Ex any day.

          Lol, I'm more like Togusa from GitS: have fun with your artificial parts, I'll have none of it. :-P

          Me too. I want some sweet sunglasses that are embedded into implants above my eyes like in Deus Ex.

          When this eventuates, genetic/bio engineering like this will be oulawed by the UN just like cloning and anyone who is augmented will be outcast. I was watching an epsiode of DS9 last night which touched on this topic and thought "yep, that's how it will be... outlawed or heavily restricted".

        You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

    Sony need to offer some type of solid state storage, or the option to upgrade to solid state storage.

    I am contemplating upgrading my current PS3 to an SSD.

      Yeah, I'm hoping they stick with their approach to PS3 which allowed us to just by any off the shelf HDD and plug it in. Made upgrading a hell of a lot cheaper and more flexible than having to buy some specific branded one which may or may not come in the size you want and is always exorbitantly priced. Likewise just being able to use a standard bluetooth headset instead of having to buy the Sony branded one, etc.

      Staying region-free would also be a massive plus.

    so 6 years later you can finally sign 2 accounts into same machine at once, wow!

      I always wondered (and was frustrated) by the fact that the Xbox360 seemed to be the only system capable of this seemingly basic feature. With housemates playing local co-op, being able to sing in as ourselves for trophies/save data etc. always put us on the 360 and not the PS3, also pushing any game purchases in that direction. I have no idea why this has taken Sony so long

        I too own both systems and little things like that make me pick the 360 over ps3 every time, also the ability to copy profile to usb so easily and take to friends place.

        I didn't know you could sing as yourself for trophies!

    So AMD are giving their tech that isn't out yet to Sony a year before PC.

      Not 'giving', but rather 'selling'. Besides, it's not out yet via Sony, either, and the machine housing the rare parts isn't likely to be out until end of '13 through to anytime in '14.

      Hardly. The Jaguar cores that the CPU is thought to be based around are expected to be in shipping PC parts by the end of 2013. As for the GPU, "R10xx" refers to the Southern Islands family (aka the Radeon 7000 series), which released last January.

    All I can say is that this years E3 will be interesting between Sony and Microsoft. Either way I think we won't see the new systems released until December 2013 or March 2014.

    I'm sick of having 4000 controllers to choose from.

    They need to invent something that works like a dual shock but can split apart to become 2 move controllers if necessary.

      Uh...they did?

        That is exactly what I would like to see launch as the PS4 controller

          I recommend using the tags to search for "patents" too. The number of Sony controller patents and thought bubbles is amazing. If they can combine all of them, that'd truly be an innovative controller.

    Any bets on the price??

    Im guessing in excess of $700 - $800. ...

      I'd expect somewhere in that $650-$750 range, which I think would put it in the same ballpark as the PS1 / PS2 launches? I think we can be pretty certain they won't make the same pricing mistake that they did with PS3 - $999 was just ridiculous.

        haha yeah that's why i asked. Ill never forget the PS3 launch price

        Even more ridiculous is the fact I was one of the people fully prepared to shell out $999 on launch date, but guess what? It got delayed, and delayed. So I finally decided that Sony won't get my $999, and held off until the price dropped.

        Now, if there are other nuffies out there like me (I'm sure there are), then i wonder how much Sony "lost" by having the PS3 release date drop back so many times?

        PS. This is the same reason i didn't bother with Gran Turismo 5. I take things personal when developers don't deliver on promises (Valve, Half Life, I'm looking at you....)

        Let's not forget that most Blue Ray Players actually cost considerably more at the time.


      I always thought the ps4 will be about $800 - $999 and the xbox 3 to be $700 - $800

    Must cram superfluous social media crap into everything...

    Wow, AMD's killing it for next-gen! The only thing they're not doing is WiiU's CPU ^_^

    Dear luke please learn to use google. There was a legal patent issue as to why there was no "vibration" in the first ps3 controller.

      Sony could have just paid the fee to licence it in the first place, which is exactly what they ended up doing anyway after the backlash over no vibration forced their hand.

        It is quite possible that the Sixaxis controller was a result of Sony calling Immersion's bluff.

        If Immersion thought that the patent license was blocking the release of the PS3, then they might have felt they could ask for much higher royalties. By releasing with a no-vibration controller, they might have been able to get a more reasonable royalty rate.

        You should use google as well. Immersion sues sony, sony loses no dualshock is now sixaxis. Year later settlement reached dualshock 3 released. It wasn't a simple thong as just a license dispute.

          That's exactly what it was - a patent dispute which Sony could have settled years before the PS3 even released, Immersion sued Sony and Microsoft for patent infringement back in 2002. MS just paid up and settled the issue out of court (along with buying a chunk of Immersion). Sony decided to fight it and it dragged on and on for years through various appeals until Sony finally gave in and just paid the money like they should have in the first place like MS did.

    This article mentions a difference in the RAM. It should be noted that you guys mention 8GB of system RAM where DF mention 4GB GDDR5. GDDR5 is video card memory. Whats strange is this article mentions 2.2GB of video memory, which is an odd number for RAM.

      It isn't uncommon for a dev system to have more memory (e.g. so there is room to run debug builds of games that wouldn't fit on production hardware). It'd be nice if they do go with 8GB, but this doesn't really confirm things one way or the other.

    Hahahaha Sony still using the terrible controller that is the Dualshock, the leading cause of carpal tunnel worldwide.

      Dualshock is great, I love it. Been using it on a regular basis since 1998 without any carpal tunnel issues.

        360 and nintendo controllers >>>>

    Yes but the big question is... Will it have party chat?? Like the xbox... I don't know what is so bloody hard about letting users talk to each other... 6 years later and they still cant figure it out. that's a major reason i play xbox over my ps3, it feels so primitive in comparison.. But then again you get what you pay for... And id happily pay $50 a year just for this feature alone.. Sony charges you nothing and i suppose that's exactly what you get... Nothing! And if your a ps3 fan boy and you're gonna defend your console then you obviously haven't experienced Xbox's online experience and therefore have no say in this argument. Its even been made possible on the Vita to party chat but still nothing for ps3...

      Sony explained many, many times quite a few years ago that there simply wasn't enough memory dedicated to the system/OS itself to support cross-chat. Otherwise they would have had it added within the first two years.

      It's not about not figuring it out - it's about being limited by the hardware that was released.

    It sounds good so far. The specs are solid. My main hopes is 8gb of ram and SSD, preferably a big one and one that I can interchange with any other. And some decent games, of course. I'm very interested in seeing what Quantic Dream and Naughty Dog can do with it.

      It's been rumoured that the Orbis will have 4GB GDDR5 RAM with 512MB allocated to OS vs the Durango which will have 8GB GDDR3 and 3GB allocated to OS. As a note, the GDDR5 has a much higher bandwith than GDDR3 making it better choice. As for the SSD, i'm doubtful they'll make it standard just to keep costs down and make the pricing more competitive, but as long as they allow for HDD to be changed at our own preference, it wouldnt be an issue

    I wouldn't be surprised if this thing was jailbroken before it even made it to the stores. In fact, I hope it is.

    And like always, I guess no Other-OS capabilities and a lawsuit for anyone who tries to mod their own console?

    I'm not really interested in the PS4. I have a PS3 that only really gets used for a few exclusives, and bluray.

    While I generally enjoy playing games on the PS3, I find several things about it which annoy me enough that when choosing a platform to play a game on, where available, I will always buy the Xbox 360 version.

    1. I hate the front end. I can never find what I'm looking for in the UI. On my xbox, I can drop in a game, and press 'A'. That's it, I'm playing. On the PS3 I have to look through several identical looking menus just to find the game launcher. For a machine that started it's life as a gaming console, I find this annoying to say the least. It's only a small thing but it matters.

    2. Installation and updates. I think it's great that I can install games on my PS3/Xbox harddrive, however it pisses me off no end that on the PS3, I have no control over this process. In fact my least favourite thing is buying a game for PS3 but before I can actually play it, I have to go through a mandatory update/installation process, that seems to take a monumental amount of time compared to Xbox. If you need to do a system update too, forget about it! I think it took me 2 hours to get to start playing the last Gran Turismo game I bought!

      I'm not sure I have ever seen the behaviour that you mention in point 1.

      When I insert a game disk in my PS3, it starts that game. No need for button presses. No need for menu navigation. Having said that, starting a game DOES require menu navigation when the game disk is already in the PS3.

      If you look in the settings menu of the PS3, there's an option in there to have it automatically start a game as soon as you insert a disc.

      Of course you have to dig up stuff in the menu, the PS3 has like sixteen billion more features than the Xbox, either related to games or just pure Hi-Fi options. I'm impressed they were even able make it so stream-lined with what they had to put in.

        haha said by a true fanboy.

      yeah, i find this pretty annoying too, this is the reason my ps3 is no longer on the internet,

    I wonder how this simultaneous accounts thing will work if you have two accounts from different region stores. I hope they're not going to start detecting IP and redirecting you to the local store for everything. :\

      Logging in will just grant you trophy access and your profile. Doesn't make sense if you can both enter the store at the same time on the same machine with two billing addresses.

    if they dont spread their wings on the whole 'media centre' concept, i'm gunna have to switch to the xbox on the next round...
    boosted hardware's great and all... but lets see the product actually evolve shall we?

    "It will also feature vibration, which Sony has thankfully learned is a next-gen feature you need to launch with."
    HA I remember that; funny stuff.

    Interesting it's taken them this long to do the whole multi-user sign in thing as well.

    These PS4 specs are very similar to the Xbox720 specs posted a few days ago.
    I said quite a while ago that the PS4 and 720 would be very similar consoles for numerous reasons.
    The fact that AMD are providing the chips for both machines is one sign.
    The next sign was when Sony announced they were dumping the cell architecture.

    Similar consoles mean easy ports, easy game development, but still keeping the fanboi console wars going.

    So it's looking like the PS4 is going to be more powerful than the last generation. Phew! And here I was worrying they'd go the other way with it!

    Wait just so I can understand the whole multi log in thing, It's pretty much what the XBox can do since launch?
    Not dissing the PS4 I'm just trying to understand what they're doing with it.

      Perhaps memory in the controllers to remember certain profiles, save data etc.

      no idea, they could easily completely mess it up or make a way to simply share your account between machines so you can easily choose your username/settings from the internet. most likely it will be something in between

    If the dev kit has 8GB ram that corrosondes with the rumored PS4 specs having 4GB as dev systems allways have double the ram of the target so they can run de-bugging software etc. on top of the game.

    "as each new controller syncs with the system, that player’s account can be logged in as well"

    This is awesome, but only if it unlocks trophies etc and is truly linked to my account.

    after the ps3, you would think they would put more ram in

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