Yesterday a French site posted up likely specifications of Sony’s upcoming PSP2, which saw the inclusion of a quad-core ARM Cortex A9 CPU and a IMG Tech SGX 543 MP4+ GPU inside the system. Today, Sony officially broke their silence on the device, revealing both the console itself, along with the final internal specifications of the unit.
We can safely put an end to multi-core CELL processor rumours, and word of a GPU to rival that of PS3’s RSX – the quad-core SGX 543 MP4+ is certainly powerful when used in tandem with four A9 CPU’s, but still pretty far away from delivering the same level of performance as the PS3 itself. Although, in a string of highly-impressive gameplay demonstrations, via video trailers, we can see that games on the system emulate PS3-level complexity with relative ease, and are way beyond the level of games shown running on the iPhone 4.
There’s no question that the NGP, as Sony are officially codenaming the system, is incredibly powerful for a handheld device. The SGX 543 features full Open GL 2.0 support, along with what looks like Pixel Shader Model 4.1 capabilities, allowing for potential cross compatibility with devices that share similar hardware, but also the capacity for current-gen, PS3 and 360 level of visual effects.
Less overall geometry and texture detail is a given, as is what looks like lower shadow quality on some of the titles shown, although, many of the demos use some PS3 level assets which helps in bridging the gap. And, on the small screen – one that packs a 960x544 16:9 OLED display – the differences are even less likely to be noticed.
In addition, while the use of a quad-core CPU may seem like overkill, various developers have stated, that a lack of overall processing power on the CPU-side is what’s holding back high-end iPhone titles. So, the NGP set-up of a quad-core GPU, and four CPU cores looks like a solid solution to that problem. The GPU definitely packs enough punch, from what we’ve seen so far. Plus, the use of tile-based, differed rendering of the PowerVR tech will provide an additional performance boost over traditional forward renderers; regardless of whether being coded for directly to metal, or by higher-level software API’s.
All in all, the NGP definitely looks like being at the very high-end of handheld tech… at least until 2011, by which time many smartphones are likely to have caught up. But despite this, ether way, Sony have clearly demonstrated that their next-generation portable is fully capable of delivering PS3-style graphics on the small screen. Like-for-like or not, that's certainly a pretty impressive talking point.
Here's the final specs sheet in its entirety:
ARM Corte-A9 core (4 core)
Approx. 182.0 x 18.6 x 83.5mm (width x height x depth) (tentative, excludes largest projection)
(Touch screen) 5 inches (16:9), 960 x 544, Approx. 16 million colors, OLED Multi touch screen (capacitive type)
Rear touch pad:
Multi touch pad (capacitive type)
Front camera, Rear camera
Built-in stereo speakers, built-in microphone
Six-axis motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer)
Three-axis electronic compass
Wi-Fi location service support
Directional buttons (Up/Down/Right/Left)
Action buttons (Triangle, Circle, Cross, Square)
Shoulder buttons (Right/Left)
Right stick, Left stick
START button, SELECT button
Volume buttons (+/-)
Mobile network connectivity (3G)
IEEE 802.11b/g/n (n = 1x1)
(Wi-Fi) (Infrastructure mode/Ad-hoc mode)
Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (A2DP/AVRCP/HSP)
A fuller, more intricate analysis of the hardware will be performed at a later date. There’s still many aspects of the internals that we don’t know: the clock speed of the GPU, and the amount of VRAM/memory bandwidth, to name but three. But we’ll cover this, and other concerns, more thoroughly when we get a chance.