Last nights soft launch of Sony’s forthcoming PlayStation 4 video games console might not have revealed as much as we would have liked but it did tell us something. Future owners will almost certainly benefit from a faster broadband ISP connection, one where low latency and better upload speeds will be crucial.
It goes without saying that access to a low latency internet connection has always been vital for an effective multiplayer experience and we explored a little more about this last August 2012 in one of our editorials (A Closer Look at Latency and Packet Loss on the Biggest Broadband ISPs). But until now upload speeds haven’t been quite so vital and yet the PS4 could be about to change all that.
Aside from all the new graphical bells and whistles, Sony’s PS4 also comes with a host of new social features that will further tax your upstream connection and could add some encouragement for ISPs to stop merely advertising based on download performance (it sometimes feels as if upload speed doesn’t even exist among most of the big providers).
Sony PS4 Social and Interactive Features (Basic Summary)
* Video Sharing
Gamers can share their “epic triumphs” with the press of a button that will upload a video of your recent experience to be viewed by friends. You’ll also be able to share images and videos with friends on social networking services such as Facebook.
* Real-Time Video Spectating and Remote Control
Gamers will be able to broadcast their gameplay in real-time to friends using live internet streaming services such as Ustream. In fact your friends may even be able to take-over control of your game if you want them too.
* Streaming Play of PS1, PS2 and PS3 Games
Sadly the PS4 won’t be backwards compatible through hardware and so instead Sony will use its new PlayStation Cloud (Gaikai) service to let you play older games through online streaming services. You’ll also be able to use this for trying out new game demos for the PS4. At present it’s unclear how owners of existing games will be able to get their software recognised for streaming.
* Play While You Download
Digital content distribution is nothing new but the PS4 will be one of the first to actually let you start playing a game you’ve brought online while it’s still being downloaded. When a player purchases a game, PS4 downloads just a fraction of the data so gamers can start playing immediately, and the rest is downloaded in the background during actual gameplay.
The above will be bolted on-top of various other improvements from a new User Interface (UI) to second screen interactivity (via smartphones, tablets, PSP Vita etc.) and all of the usual content downloads and online interactivity features that we’ve already come to expect. Suffice to say that there’s a lot of interesting stuff on the PS4 but the above are some of the features most likely to tax your broadband.
Sadly we don’t yet know precisely what kind of connection will be required to achieve all this, although some features (Play While You Download) have clearly been designed to compensate for those with slower download links. On the other hand you’ll want a good quality HD stream if you’re planning to play streamed PS1, PS2 or PS3 games and that’s likely to need a download speed of 5-10Mbps or more (going by the example of Netflix and Lovefilm).
By contrast the video sharing and remote play video streaming features will almost certainly benefit from a modern superfast broadband (FTTC, FTTP, FTTH, Cable etc.) connection with upload speeds of several Megabits per second and low latency. Sadly this is harder to achieve with the dominant ADSL and ADSL2+ based connections of today that deliver up to around just 1Mbps (excluding Annex M), although their latency isn’t too bad (depending on your ISP). Some people may also prefer to connect their home networks to the PS4 via wires instead of wifi as the latter can add some latency delay.
The Sony PlayStation 4 is set to launch towards the end of this year and, for those interested, you can find some specs below.
CPU : x86-64 AMD “Jaguar”, 8 cores
GPU : 1.84 TFLOPS, AMD next-generation Radeon™ based graphics engine
Memory GDDR5 8GB
Hard Disk Drive
Built-in Optical Drive (read only) BD 6xCAV DVD 8xCAV
Super-Speed USB (USB 3.0) 、AUX
Ethernet (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T)
IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth® 2.1 (EDR)
Digital Output (optical)