John Carmack has speculated that a new next-gen console will be "earlier rather than later," and it "seems likely" Sony would be the one to "jump the gun" first.
Developers want this generation to "stretch as long as possible", and we're "coasting" toward some "fundamental physical limits" in technology. Could be "without optical media".
"The whole jockeying for who's going to release the first next gen console is very interesting and pretty divorced from the technical side of things," Carmack told , reports .
"Whether Sony wants to jump the gun to prevent the same sort of 360 lag from happening to them again seems likely. As developers, we would really like to see this generation stretch as long as possible. We'd like to see it be quite a few more years before the next gen console comes out, but I suspect one will end up shipping something earlier rather than later."
Whoever releases the next generation of console, Carmack notes it will come to rely heavily on digital delivery. "I think that Xbox Live... the advent of that and the App Store with the iPhone are wonderful signs of the future of digital distribution."
"I think there's a decent chance that one of the next gen consoles will be without optical media... the uptake rates of people who have broadband connects surprised everyone this generation. It's higher than what the core publishers and even the first party people expected."
We've reached an interesting level of technology in our console hardware too, with 2GB of RAM expected to be the standard. "We talk about these absurd things like how many teraflops of processing and memory that are going into our game machines. It's great and there's going to be at least another generation like that, although interestingly we are coasting towards some fundamental physical limits on things," he explained.
"We've already hit the megahertz wall and eventually there's going to be a power density wall from which you won't get more processing out there..."
"There'll be questions of whether we shift to a cloud computing infrastructure... lots of interesting questions about whether you have the computing power in your living room versus somewhere else," offered Carmack. OnLive and Gaikai have both raised eyebrows.
"Certainly the easier aspect of that is 'net as storage' where it's all digital distribution and you could wind up doing an idTech 5-like thing... and blow it up to World of Warcraft size so you need a hundred petabytes of storage in your central game system."
"We can do that now! It's not an absurd thing to talk about," he continued.
"Games are already in the tens of millions of dollars in terms of budget size and that's probably going to continue to climb there. The idea of putting millions of dollars into higher-sized storage... it's not unreasonable to at least consider."
Sony is adamant they're sticking with the PlayStation 3 for ten years, but that doesn't mean there aren't plans for a fourth generation of the platform to arrive before PS3 is old and frail.