It seems like every two weeks, there is some new and big speculation on what the rumored PS4 upgrade will be called and what it will deliver. First dubbed PS4.5, then PS4K, and now PlayStation 4 Neo (internal codename), the new PlayStation is expected to have some modest gains over its predecessor of three years ago. According to Richard Leadbetter:
CPU: The good news is that there will be a CPU upgrade over the lacklustre x86 cores found in PlayStation 4. The bad news is that the cores themselves have not been changed at all – they have simply been overclocked from 1.6GHz to 2.1GHz – a 31 per cent improvement. As with the current PlayStation 4, one core and a time-slice from another is reserved for the operating system.
Memory: We’re still at 8GB of GDDR5, with a 24 per cent boost to bandwidth compared to the original PS4. The current machine uses 5.5gbps memory modules. Basic maths suggests that Sony has pushed this to the same 7.0gbps modules we see on high-end graphics cards like the GTX 980 and GTX 980 Ti. There are some concerns here. The boost to bandwidth isn’t exactly huge, it will still be in contention with CPU utilisation (they both share the same interface), and the bandwidth doesn’t scale particularly well with the mooted GPU boost, which – to be frank – is massive.
GPU: This is the most exciting aspect of the spec. Compute unit count doubles from 18 to 36, and clock-speed increases from 800MHz to 911MHz – a 14 per cent increase. That’s an overall increase of 2.3x in FLOPs. The question is, what technology is being used here? AMD has created both of its current-gen console processors so far by taking older, off-the-shelf components and disabling a couple of compute units. In effect, Xbox One got the Radeon HD 7790, while PlayStation 4 got a more capable, semi-custom Radeon HD 7870. Here’s where things get interesting – the 36 compute unit count cannot comfortably fit any of AMD’s existing GPUs. It suggests that Sony and AMD have pushed the boat out, that they are using the upcoming Polaris technology.
Curiously, all current reports lack any mention of upgraded hard drives or 4K Blu-ray player which would be a shame if lacking though it likely comes down to a cost. If such a model is released, don’t think that Sony and developers will leave you in the dust.
Sony seemingly acknowledges the need to integrate the two models of PlayStation 4 available simultaneously on the market – internally dubbed as ‘Base’ and ‘Neo’. There will be no games exclusive to the Neo model, every title will be available on both, and there’s no suggestion of VR-exclusive Neo modes at this point. Developers are prohibited from creating Neo-exclusive gameplay features, and enhancements are expected to be graphical and performance-based in nature. Gamers on both systems will be tied into the same ecosystem, meaning that users of both models will be competing against one another in online games. The user interface and PSN systems will also be identical.
It’s worth noting that I’m a huge fan of a mid-upgrade PS4 being released but I’ll share my own thoughts and some more info on the PlayStation 4 Neo in another piece.
What do you think of the rumored upgraded specs?