A lot more smoke was added to the upgraded PlayStation 4 rumor fire yesterday. Multiple sources confirmed the existence of the upgraded PlayStation 4 to GiantBomb. It’s codenamed NEO and includes upgraded specs across the board – CPU, GPU and RAM.
Here are the upgraded PS4 specs according to the report:
CPU – 8 Jaguar Cores at 2.1 GHz
GPU – Improved AMD GCN, 36 CUs at 911 MHz
Memory – 8 GB GDDR, 218 GB/s
And here’s what’s in your PS4 right now.
CPU – 8 Jaguar Cores at 1.6 GHz
GPU – AMD GCN, 18 CUs at 800 MHz
Memory – 8 GB GDDR5, 176 GB/s
Yeah, that’s a far cry from the jump we are used to seeing between consoles. But Sony wants to sell this thing at a reasonable price. We’re not getting absurd specs and a good price. Can’t have both.
How will this affect us?
That’s the only question I care about, and the GiantBomb report gives us some clues. Much like virtual reality, the PlayStation team is making a stand in one key area. Frame rate.
The frame rate of games on NEO can not be below the frame rate of the game on the original PS4. Keeping the PlayStation player base together is imperative for Sony. That means no NEO-exclusive games. No fragmentation of online communities. No exclusive features.
Don’t expect Call of Duty 2017 to have a map editor exclusive to the upgraded PS4, according to the report. Sounds good to me. Sony is sitting on well north of 35 million PS4s sold. They can’t afford to alienate large swaths of those users.
Some games, like Assassin’s Creed Unity, need all the power they can get.
The potential obstacles
Price. It’s the biggest obstacle of them all for most. Multiple reports peg the upgraded PS4 at $399. It makes sense. Take over the launch price for the PS4 NEO and cut the price on the original PS4 a little bit more.
Right now, I’m in the ‘maybe’ camp on buying an upgraded PS4. I want to see what kind of trade-in programs Sony offers. The trade value for a PS4 through GameStop sits at $200. Do you think that value stays the same when Sony officially announces the upgraded PS4? Yeah, I doubt it.
At $200, I’ll trade in my current PS4 for the upgraded one. But not any less. We’ll see if that trade value holds up as we get closer to the potential launch of an upgraded PS4.
Another obstacle is the games. I know the report says Sony wants developers to focus on frame rates. And that sounds great. But we know developers want to push the envelope when they can.
How will developers approach the upgraded PS4? That’s my biggest question. We know they’ll want to squeeze anything they can out of it. But Sony needs to implement a hard limit of 30 frames per second on all games. No drops.
I just worry that current PS4 owners will get screwed sooner or later because they don’t own the latest piece of hardware.
A mid-generation upgrade is uncharted territory for current hardware manufacturers. But I’m glad Sony is taking the risk. I have concerns, but the last hardware generation lasted an eternity. Technology will always march forward. Consoles can’t be left behind. And with new ways to play (VR, AR), more powerful hardware is needed.
Are you interested in an upgraded PS4? What kind of upgrade program would swing you over the fence to get one?