Final Specifications of Next-Generation Game Consoles Still Unknown – Game Developer

Executive Producer at DICE: There Are Only Specs and Alpha Hardware, No Final Console Hardware

by Anton Shilov
03/28/2013 | 11:30 PM

Although general specifications of next-generation Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation 4 video game consoles are well-known, the final specs of what will ship later this year is still under consideration by platform holders. All the demos that have been shown so far were either pre-rendered, or were running from personal computers, according to the executive producer of DICE, an Electronic Arts studio that develops legendary Battlefield games.

 

“I do not know if anyone has the next-gen hardware to be honest – really. There are versions of it, but does anyone have the final hardware? Do we really know what the final hardware will be? There are specs and alpha hardware, but nobody knows exactly what it will be. The only thing I can say about what we are building is that we have set the bar with what we can do and we can scale it down to Xbox 360 and PS3,” said Patrick Bach, the executive producer of highly-popular Battlefield franchise at DICE [Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment], in an interview with CVG web-site.

Both Microsoft’s third-generation Xbox as well as Sony’s PlayStation 4 are based on semi-custom AMD Fusion system-on-chips with eight Jaguar general-purpose x86 cores, AMD Radeon HD 7000-derived graphics processors and other special-purpose hardware units. Both consoles will have hard disk drives as well as Blu-ray disc drives. In generally, for an industry observer’s point of view, quite a lot is known about both Xbox “Durango” as well as PlayStation 4 “Orbis”. However, game developers need exact clock-speeds, precise specifications and all the known limitations. Even though the PS4 has been officially introduced and the first party developers showcased their next-gen titles, it looks like not everything is final at the moment.


Sony PlayStation 4 early development kit.

Typically, console developers are tweaking the hardware specifications to find the best compromise between production yield, costs and performance till relatively short time before mass production. Some say that Microsoft added 256MB of additional GDDR3 memory to Xbox 360 pretty late in the development cycle. Therefore, it is not surprising that at the moment not everything is known about the PS4 and Xbox Next.

Electronic Arts and DICE this week published a 17 minutes video depicting gameplay of the upcoming Battlefield 4 title, which looks nothing, but stunning. The executive from DICE states that although Battlefield 4 will work on many platforms, both forthcoming and current, the video is a “visual target” and was run on a PC, not a demonstration of certain hardware capabilities.

 

“The demo is the visual target of what we want the game to look like, and when I say visual target I don't want people to confuse that with rendering pictures that you could never create in the actual game - when we create our visual targets a big part of that is to make it realistic, as in you will be able to run it on a machine that you can buy. We have seen visual targets that are pre-rendered or running on machines that are designed for showing off technology – this is the game. [Single-player producer] Tobias was playing the game in the Frostbite engine with the content that we're using to build the game,” said Mr. Bach.