January 22, 2013, 15:30

The Next-Gen Rumours: Numbers Don’t Matter… Yet

By David Howard, Editor-in-Chief

If the last few days have taught me anything it’s that no one really has a clue what is going on nor understand what’s now important.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as big an advocate as to the importance of raw power than then next guy – after all, more processing power means more than just prettier graphics – but until we actually see what the new hardware can spit out the incessant “leaking” of numbers is inconsequential. We can speculate and wonder how amazing next-gen titles will look – and the visual fidelity leap will surely be clear – but there’s no real comparison we can make.

Heck, it’s almost a year to the day since we had a multitude of conflicting reports as to how much more powerful each console would be than the PS3 and Xbox 360.

So what have we this year? Well, VG247 are claiming that the PlayStation 4 – often referred to as codename Orbis – has a 50% raw, computational power advantage over Xbox 720 – backing up such a claim with teraflops (one trillion floating point operations per second) figures, before adding that the Next Xbox – codenamed Durango – will have more RAM than Sony’s next machine. Apparently, with 8GB of RAM the Next Xbox will reserve 3GB for the OS, apps and security, leaving 5GB for games, whilst the PlayStation 4 will only have 4GB – 1GB for the OS, apps and security, 3GB for games.

Meanwhile, a post from VGleaks states a wealth of apparently leaked information of the Next Xboxes internals. An 8-core 1.62GHz CPU running on 64-bit architecture with dedicated instruction and data cache, the widely rumoured 8GB of DDR3 RAM and a custom 800 MHz graphics processor (with 12 shader cores providing a total of 768 threads) capable of issuing 1.2 teraflops – a figure that matches that reported by VG247.

But then there’s a completely contradictory report from NowGamer claiming the Next Xbox will be more powerful and listing entirely different teraflops values.

How about things besides chips and processors? A 50GB 6x Blu-ray drive in the Next box according to VGleaks that can read 100GB Blu-ray discs according to VG247. Hardrives for all are expected, but the capacity’s change depending who you believe, but HDMI 1.4a is surely a must, as is USB 3.0. The lack of a new generation of Kinect – perhaps even IllumiRoom, and some advances or alterations to Move would be a huge shock.

CVG are even reporting that we could see an end to the iconic DualShock controller after 16 years, which, following the recently unearthed patent by Sony for a modular controller, could see a drastic change as to how we interact with the new machines. Motion control gaming with the Wii, Kinect, and Move, and touchscreens with the Wii U, Vita and mobile devices have altered how users play games so the idea that we could see a revolutionary new controller from the big two is a commonly mused one.

It’s things such as this, along with business models, pricing, design innovation and more, that are the really exciting bits of the next-generation. How will they price content? How will you be able to buy it? What revolutionary tech will there be (e.g. One Touch, IllumiRoom, 4K)? How will it all work in the world we live in now and will do for the next half-a-decade or so? What possibilities will it open up to developers? These are just a few of the important things.

It’s likely that as hardware changes behind the scenes that the information passed onto people is correct at the time; that’s what the optimist in me wants to believe at least. And who knows, someone’s probably spot on with some of these leaks, but even a broken clock tells the time twice a day.

I cannot wait to see what the PlayStation 4 and Next Xbox beam to our TVs in the coming few months, but until then all of the numbers thrown about are essentially useless. It’s the games and features that are the key and we’ve heard some mouth-watering things about some of the upcoming projects – but until we see them, who cares.