Console gaming is in a state of upheaval, as the speed of technological evolution and the demands of high-end consumers for ever more powerful processing speeds and deeper resolution graphic outputs threaten to render devices obsolete at a faster rate than ever before (in-tandem with console-production costs growing more expensive at the same time). In response, Sony has been heavily rumored for months to be planning an upgraded version of their Playstation 4 console, expected by analysts to include 4K resolution and increased power while also remaining compatible with already-released PS4 titles.
Now, new details have emerged that paint the clearest picture yet of just what the console previously referred to as the PS4K will be – and what it can do.
According to reports filed by GiantBomb, the new console has internally (i.e. within Sony Computer Entertainment and the Playstation 4 developer community) been known as The NEO and will indeed feature 4K output capability and increased speed and power allowing for bigger games, greater technological freedom for game designers and specs that will place the Playstation brand at the forefront of the console arms-race in terms of raw potential. Moreover, it indicates that Sony does not plan to abandon the original PS4 or immediately “force” players to upgrade for the newest games.
Whereas the original PS4 boasted a CPU built on 8 Jaguar Cores running at 1.6 GHz, an AMD GCN with 18 CUs at 800 MHz GPU and 8 GB GDDR5 (176 GB/s) for onboard memory, the NEO will up the ante considerably by running the same Jaguar Cores at 2.1 GHz, utilizing an improved AMD GCN running 36 CUs at 911 MHz for GPU and a 218 GB/s memory boost. In plainer terms, this is a substantial power upgrade that will allow the NEO to run games with significantly higher graphical detail and more complex programming than the current-gen PS4 is capable of handling, with particular emphasis reportedly being placed on optimizing games for display on high-end 4K/Ultra HD television screens. However, in a move that will no doubt come as welcome relief to gamers who’ve already amassed substantial PS4 libraries, the NEO will run “normal” PS4 games as well and (at least for now) there are no plans for “NEO-only” titles.
Instead, all PS4 games released from October 2016 onward will be required to feature both “base” and “NEO” modes, helping keep things fairly straightforward for consumers. And while it’s expected that the NEO will “upscale” standard games for 4K screens, in a surprising move there is no current requirement for all NEO-mode games to output in 4K themselves – rather, they will have to meet the specifications of at least the original PS4 or higher. The Base and NEO model PS4’s will also use the same online communities, Playstation Store and other access points, and Sony is said to be committed to keeping developers from segregating the two user-bases online.
A release date has still not been set for the project, though earlier rumors had leaned heavily in the direction of an October release, allowing the NEO to drop before the expected Holiday or post-Holiday arrival of the Playstation VR format – which is itself expected to benefit from the increased power and developmental freedom that the NEO is said to provide.