While console manufacturers can make entire third party studios sign non-disclosure agreements with the threat of legal peril if they say anything they're not supposed to, the sheer number of people involved in the development of launch titles for a new generation machine means it's quite inevitable that someone out there will spill the beans. The hard part is knowing where the truth lies.
The latest bout of such information comes via Kotaku
, who reportedly have several sources coroborating some specific details of Sony's next PlayStation console -- or at least the details pertaining to the devkit hardware currently being supplied to a select group of studios.
These latest whispers tell of the name Orbis and a holiday 2013 launch, which Kotaku thinks will be the actual name of the console, but seems to at the very least be Sony's current codename (like the Vita was the NGP and the next Xbox is referred to as Durango). Orbis apparently translates to "Circle" in Latin, which Kotaku speculates is supposed to compliment Vita (Life) in a "Circle of Life" sense.
As for specifications, the current hardware is allegedly an AMD x64 CPU with an AMD GPU built on the Southern Islands 28nm architecture that we've seen in the Radeon HD 7000 series, which would technically allow for screen resolutions up to 4096x2160 -- though whether that will be realised by the output options is a different matter.
Perhaps most interestingly, this departure from the Cell CPU architecture means that Orbis is almost certainly not going to be backwards compatible with PlayStation 3 (or two) titles unless they were to work some miraculous software emulation magic.
The other big eyebrow-raiser from these sources is that Sony are said to be taking measures to ensure that games on the Orbis, even those distributed on retail Blu-Ray discs will not be secondhand tradeable. The allegation is that -- just like Steamworks PC games have been doing for a while -- all titles on the new PlayStation will be tethered to a user's PSN account. So if you were to purchase a game at a brick-and-mortar store on disc, you would activiate that game with your account and install it from the disc, but also then be able to scrap that disc and download the full game from PSN again at any point in the future.
Of course these are all still just rumours, but assuming Sony have actually been shipping dev kits to these "select developers", it was always only a matter of time before the particulars surfaced. Whether these are close to a finalised strategy however, we'll have to wait and see. But that November 2013 appears to be the current launch target is very interesting indeed.