Developers are currently taking receipt of a new PlayStation 4 dev kit, VG247 has been told today, with a final version slated to appear in January. Yes, it'll have Blu-ray. No, it isn't being made in Japan.
Multiple sources have confirmed to VG247 today that a new version of the Orbis kit is now shipping to developers, and that it's housed in a normal PC case.
There are to be four versions of the dev kit, we were told. A previous version was essentially just a graphics card. The version shipping now is a "modified PC," and the third version, appearing in January, will be close to final spec. A final version will be delivered to developers "next summer".
Some US developers attended a "disclosure meeting" at Sony's offices this week, with a further meeting to take place in the coming weeks. The purpose of the meeting is for Sony to tell studios what the machine is designed to do, to detail hardware and to show a set of presentations.
Our source told us that Sony is only calling the machine Orbis, and is not using the words "PlayStation 4" in these meetings at all.
Orbis, we were told today, is based on the AMD's A10 APU series. An APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) is a combined CPU and GPU.
PS4's APU was described today as a "derivative" of existing A10 hardware. The hardware is "based on A10 system and base platform".
The "ultimate goal" for the hardware, we were told, is for it to be able to run 1080p60 games in 3D with "no problem," to create a machine that's powerful enough for "today and tomorrow's market".
The dev kits have "either 8Gb or 16Gb of RAM. Deduce from that what you will."
The hardware is not being made in Japan, it was said.
When asked if PS4 will have an optical drive, specifically Blu-ray, our source responded: "Of course it has." We've been told the hard drive will be 256Gb "as standard," but it's not clear if it'll be a normal HDD or a solid state drive.
We were told that Sony's aim with Orbis is to avoid problems involved in launching PS3 by creating something "very affordable" but that "isn't a slouch".
The machine has WiFi and Ethernet connectivity and HDMI out. Our source said the was "no difference" between PlayStation 3 and Orbis input/output.
The UI, however, has been revamped. It was said today that players will now be able to press the PS button mid-game and travel "anywhere" on the system. An example given was buying DLC from the PS Store mid-game then seamlessly returning to play.
"They're trying to make it as fluid as possible," our source said.
We were also told that the machine will be designed to accept system and product updates in the background, and that it'll "always be in standby mode". When you set the console up, we were told, you'll be asked if you want to allow background downloads. You can, of course, disallow them.
No details have been given on the pad as yet. Confirmation is expected this month.
Orbis is expected to be announced at an event "just before E3" next year.