Sony is working on developing a multi-core central processing unit (CPU) for the PlayStation 4, according to Japanese sources.

Japanese website PC Watch Impress reports that Sony is already developing new alternatives to the PS3's Cell architecture, which will come as great news to the legions of games developers that have struggled (and are still struggling) to fully get to grips with the PS3's difficult-to-master CPU.

Sony was initially looking towards Intel's Larrabee and also at a modified version of the Synergistic Processor Unit, but is now reportedly focusing on new designs centred on a multi-core CPU.

PS4, Xbox 720, Wii HD

Nintendo and Microsoft are also reported to be looking at new console CPU technology – although the real surprise would be if anybody actually thought for a second that they were NOT developing their cash-cow gaming hardware!

Japan's PC Watch Impress claims that it takes around 24 months to produce new consoles, with some speculating that we are looking at late 2012 or 2013 any beyond before we see PS4 or Xbox 720 or even Wii HD.

PC Watch Impress adds that we should see new handheld consoles before we see new home consoles, which isn't much of a claim, as both Sony and Nintendo seem to refresh their PSP and DS range on an annual basis, with the latest PSPgo and DSi XL both currently wowing gamers in Japan.

Via Kotaku.com and 【後藤弘茂のWeekly海外ニュース】 揺れるSCEの次世代ゲーム機「PlayStation 4」プラン [PC Watch Impress]