Over the past few days, there have been a number of rumours about the specifications and possible launch date of a successor to Sony's best-selling game console, the PlayStation 4, supposedly codenamed "Orbis". The console, apparently, has been scheduled for a 2013 holiday season release.

Check out a round-up of rumours...

Release Date

The release date of a gadget is always a hot topic and the PS4 is no exception. A T3 report reminds us that when Sony launched the PS3, they locked the console in for a 10-year period, meaning we could not expect the PS4 before 2016. Clearly that is no longer the case. The rumoured launches of the Xbox 720 (a successor to Microsoft's own console, the Xbox 360) and Nintendo's Wii U later this year would seem to have forced Sony's hand.

Another report, this time by Kotaku, claims to have inside information about the PS4 - that selected developers have had development kits from the beginning of this year and that revised and improved versions of these kits were shipped at game developers' conferences and also that beta versions of the kits will go out at the end of the year wit, again, a late 2013 release in mind.

Finally, an earlier report, by MCV, suggested the PS4 will be shown at the 2012 E3 event, scheduled for June. However, Sony responded swiftly and. according to The Wall Street Journal, no such event has been planned.

Rumoured Specifications

The new PS, in order to provide the Xbox and other consoles with tough enough a challenge, is expected to pack an AMDx64 CPU and an AMD Southern Island GPU. The GPUs are expected to be capable of displaying games at a resolution of up to 4096x2160 and play 3D games in 1080p; the PS3 can only play them at 720p.

Meanwhile, an earlier report by IBTimes UK spoke of the PS4 featuring AMD's A8-3850 - a quad-core 2.9GHz processor with an integrated APU graphics chip. The Radeon HD 7670, which is the system's dedicated GPU chip, is a DirectX 11-enabled card clocked at 1GHz with up to 1GB VRAM. The A8-3850 processor makes the APU capable of running games at lower resolutions without the help of a separate GPU.

No Backwards Compatibility for PS4

Sony had earlier offered backward compatibility for PS1 and PS2 games on the PS3. According to Techtorial, despite the PlayStation 3 (fat edition) which managed to support PS1 and PS2 games, the list appeared to have gaping holes and further updates did not fix the issue. The 40GB, 160GB, 320GB and the new 80GB PS3 models, produced after 2006, saw the loss of backward compatibility for PS2 games. In keeping with that tradition, Sony has apparently no plans to offer backward compatibility of PS3 games for the next PlayStation.

Codename for the next PlayStation
One of the more popular names given by expectant fans, to the new PlayStation, is "Orbis". The word, in Latin, means "circle" or "ring".

PlayStation 4 Games

PS4 games (given that PS3 titles may not be compatible with the new console) are reportedly ready to release when the PS4 is. The games will, as ever, be available at the PlayStation Online Store, according to Techlabs.

Phil Harrison, the former head of Sony Worldwide Studios, spoke on the idea of "game streaming" - to play online, allowing users to purchase rights to stream games.

"The technology to stream high-quality games directly to your living room or computer or TV is not some kind of science-fiction fantasy - it works, and it will only get better over times. I think that is clearly going to be a future for our industry," Phil Harrison has been quoted as saying.

Used Games Not Compatible

Finally, there were quotes from Michael Pachter, of Wedbush Securities, suggesting Sony would be blocking used games from working on the new console. Pachter also added, however, that the reports could be a re-hash of an old rumour that the PS3 would, when it was released, block the same. The reality, however, is that the "consumer backlash" from blocking second-hand games would be far too massive for the company to consider, according to a report by The Christian Post.

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