Citing "sources who have been briefed on the project," Digital Foundry reports that while Sony experimented with retail PS3 consoles in data centers, the company developed a new solution for PS Now that involves "shrinking the equivalent of eight PS3s onto a single motherboard, housed in a slimline server cabinet."
The purported hardware redesign is said to address a number of problems with existing PS3s, issues that are specific to their potential use as PS Now systems. Standard PS3 units would take up vast amounts of space at data centers, and the total electricity requirement would be enormous — the most recent "super slim" redesign of the 7-year-old console can use as much as 80 W of power.
According to Digital Foundry, the retooled PS3 design likely provides a more important benefit for PS Now: Sony could have made changes to the hardware in an effort to cut down on latency, which is the most significant concern when it comes to streaming games. According to our hands-on session with PS Now at CES 2014 — where the service's servers were operating locally at the convention, not over the internet — input lag was "noticeable," although the games were "more than playable."
Sony is scheduled to begin a closed beta of PS Now at the end of this month, and plans to start rolling out the service this summer. For more on PS Now, check out our interview with John Koller, vice president of marketing at Sony Computer Entertainment.