We've got less than 12 hours left until Sony does its big reveal of what is almost definitely the PS4, but the interwebz have seen the usual deluge of leaks and rumours pre-event. So, if the reputable ones are on the money, what are we going to be looking at tonight?
According to gaming blog VG247, the PS4 will be packing an AMD CPU, based on the architecture of the upcoming Jaguar CPU. It'll pack 8 cores, clocking in at a fairly measly 1.6Ghz. This sort of setup should, in theory, trade processing power for energy efficiency, meaning no loud, intrusive fans and lower power draw.
Sadly, if this rumour bears out, the PS4 is going to be seriously underpowered compared to current top-tier chips. To put it in perspective, the AMD Bobcat cores that the PS4's processor is reputedly based on are 1,400 per cent slower than Intel's cutting-edge Ivy Bridge i7 chips (to say nothing of its next-gen processors).
In terms of graphics power, we're still talking AMD. Specifically, it's an AMD A10xx Liverpool GPU. It's a step up from the CPU, at least, but still a step-down from high-end PC gaming CPUs.
Memory is reportedly a pathetic 4GB of DDR3 (that's half the rumoured Xbox 720 memory, in case you're keeping score). Overall, leaked specs sheets point to 1.84 teraflops of raw processing power, which is a bigger number than the rumoured figure for the Xbox 720, but frankly it's just a number.
The Playstation's controller has, ergonomically at least, remained almost unchanged from the Dualshock PS1 controller. That's apparently going to stay the same with the PS4 -- the big change will be a PS Vita-style touch-sensitive touchpad, capable of two-point multitouch. The joysticks also look a little different, and there might be a speaker (microphone?) on the front. Finally, the tilt sensors are reputedly being given a boost in the new controller, helping with driving games and the like.
Given that we've got photos from several different sources, all showing the same controller, this one is looking pretty damn likely.
Kotaku also has a rumour that the PS4 will see smartphone integration, for the likes of buying games and talking to friends, where a touchscreen keyboard would come in pretty damn useful.
Streaming Games/Backwards Compatability
So, good news and bad news here. The bad news: you won't be able to play your old discs -- that's confirmed. Booooo! The good? You'll be able to stream old games from a new PlayStation OnLive-type service.
These rumours are based on the fact that Sony bought OnLive's rival Gaikai last year, and that Gaikai's just registered domains for playstationcloud.com and ps-cloud.com, which points towards some kind of PlayStation Cloud service. Now, this doesn't necessarily mean that we'll be seeing a game-streaming service, but given that the registrations are made by a former on-demand games service now owned by Sony, you've got to admit it looks a wee bit likely.
BGR claims that the PS4 will have 4K support at launch. Though the low-spec hardware rumoured would seem to struggle with 4K, there's a strong motive for Sony to release the PS4 with some kind of 4K support, even if it's just upscaling HD content. The PS4 will most likely be able to handle 100GB Blu-ray discs, which in theory can hold a 4K movie, so there's the future potential for it to play 4K movies.
In addition, Sony proved with the PS3 that it was willing to use its gaming arm to push a new format. Given that they're investing quite heavily in 4K TV, putting 4K capability into millions of living rooms would be an easy and effective way of making 4K more viable.
Sharing and Social Media
The Wall Street Journal reports that we'll see greater social interaction on the PS4 (because, let's be honest, our Facebook feeds weren't clogged with games enough already), allowing players to share achievements and games more easily (because, again, we didn't have enough ways for gloating winners to rub it in the face of us n00bs).
According to the latest gossip, the PS4 will cost just £299, significantly less than the £429 the PS3 cost when it launched. This is based off a report in the Times, which cites "industry sources" and leaked documents to back up the low price point.
Apparently, it's a move by Sony to stave off the problems of slow take-up that blighted the PS3's early years. We don't really care about the motivation, though -- a lower price-point is always a good thing for us broke gamers.
The widely anticipated launch date is November/December 2013, for Japan and New York at least. Based on the historical trend, however, it's more likely to be Jan/Feb 2014 until we see the PS4 in the UK. Either way, we're looking at 9 months to a year.
The PS4 launch event* starts at 11pm GMT
*Unless it's actually something like a new point-and-shoot, in which case we'll all look like fools.