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Report: Specs unearthed for PS4.5 - Codename Neo

RAM, GPU & CPU upgraded, improved visuals, but all new games must support original PS4

A report has emerged which seemingly details the hardware specifications of the new model PS4, rumoured but unconfirmed since GDC earlier this year, indicating imrprovements in the machine's CPU, GPU and memory.

The story, coming from Austin Walker at Giant Bomb, claims that several sources, presumably developers, provided documentation which lists the hardware improvements of the machine over the original PS4, and details the implementation strategy for developers and customers alike.

According to the report, the new machine is known internally as Neo, which makes for a nice fit with the original Morpheus codename for PSVR, despite the original Grecian pantheon connotations of that nomenclature. The documents seen by Walker make for interesting reading, indicating a considerable leap in grunt across the three main performance related components of the console.

Neo's CPU is going to step up clock speed by almost a third, says Walker, with 8 Jaguar Cores running at 2.1 GHz compared to the current 1.6 GHz, whilst the improved AMD GPU doubles compute units to 36 from the current 18 and ups the clock speed from 800 to 911 MHz. Lastly, memory bandwidth is expected to increase, although base volume remains unchanged, with 8Gb of DDR5 operating at 218 Gb/s as opposed to the previous 176 Gb/s. Efficiency improvements mean an additional increase in memory budget of 512 MiB.

ComponentCurrent modelNeo
GPUAMD GCN, 18 CUs at 800 MHzImproved AMD GCN, 36 CUs at 911 MHz
CPU8 Jaguar Cores at 1.6 GHz8 Jaguar Cores at 2.1 GHz
RAM8 GB GDDR5, 176 GB/s8 GB GDDR5, 218 GB/s

The PS4's hard drive, which is replaceable or augmentable with external drives, remains unchanged.

Perhaps more interesting than the raw statistics, however, is the ways in which the extra power will be used, especially the restrictions being imposed on developers by Sony. One of the key concerns when the rumours of a hardware refresh first surfaced was the fear that any new, more powerful machine would split the install base, giving rise to releases which wouldn't run on an older model. Thankfully, the report seems to assuage those fears, indicating that all new releases will be required to run on the old spec machine. Nonetheless, says Walker, any games released after September will also feature a mandatory Neo mode to take advantage of the hardware. Games running in Neo mode can expect to boast higher, more stable framerates, and will likely support 4K output, although that is not being stipulated.

Online experiences will remain unified, with games running 'cross-platform', meaning that, for example, someone playing Call of Duty on a Neo PS4 will be in matches against opponents on both new and old hardware standards, and should see no competitive advantages. There will also be no special game features, such as new modes or DLC, available exclusively for the Neo, but features such as increased local multiplayer numbers or faster loading times could be supported. Front end experiences will remain unchanged, with the menu system appearing identical. All purchases will transfer to new systems and all catalogue PS4 titles will be playable on the new model, with Sony open to the possibility of developers patching old games to take advantage of the new chips.

Interestingly, the documents are said to make no mention of any advantages for PSVR, a factor which many considered intrinsic to any decisions about hardware improvements. Given that current model PS4s require the additional processing power of an in-line breakout box to utilise the PSVR headset, however, it's plausible that the new model with be able to either forego that unit entirely, or offer improved local performance.

At the time of writing, all of this remains unconfirmed by Sony, which has been contacted for confirmation.

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Latest comments (17)

James Prendergast Process Specialist 4 years ago
The PS4's SSD, which is replaceable or augmentable with external drives, remains unchanged.
SSD? The standard is a laptop HDD... so is the new one an SSD as standard??

I still think having two console units, all the development overhead that entails, and consumer confusion and upset is not worth it.

I mean, am I now expecting a sub-par experience on the base PS4? There's lots of wiggle-room in 'required to run':
Thankfully, the report seems to assuage those fears, indicating that all new releases will be required to run on the old spec machine.
Technically, many games 'run' on my laptop. Whether I would choose to do so when I have the option of an older but more powerful desktop for a better experience is another conversation altogether.

I feel that two years of a console is way too short to be pulling this sort of upgrade. Hardware needs or not. I can't see myself putting out another 500 so my support of games and their developers will begin likely to hinge on things like digitalfoundry's performance comparisons when previously I never minded minor differences...
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Dan Pearson Product Marketing Manager, Genvid4 years ago
Sorry, should be regular HD, not SSD. The perils of writing at 4am.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 years ago
If you look at AMD's PC cards with these specs, you know that both configs are a far cry from being able to render 4k with sufficient amounts of frames. I guess we are looking at a 1080p@30fps vs 1080p@60fps situation here. This is what the PC players point out to console players all the time, making this alleged redesign a good response to stay competitive with the PC. 4k video surely, but even that is wasted on a 55 inch screen you look at from across the living room couch.
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Show all comments (17)
Alan Blighe Research Associate 4 years ago
They're glossing over it, but the differences that are allowed (such as local multiplayer numbers) are not trivial, and I can't imagine that people will be very happy about it (I'm not).
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Robert Bantin Expert Audio Programmer, Massive Entertainment4 years ago
<sarcasm> I was just thinking that I need another heat-generating console dev-kit on my desk. </sarcasm>
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Ryan Locke Lecturer in Media Design, University of Abertay Dundee4 years ago
Upscaled 4k rather than raw?
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Ralph Tricoche Studying MA, CUNY4 years ago
This is a huge mistake on Sony's part.
They are willingly segregating their user base. If they are thinking that customers will flock to the new system and abandon their fully functioning older PS4 I am willing to bet that wont be the case. This will be exactly what MS needs to gain a better foothold on the market share.
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Jens Mogensen Game Reviewer, Geek Culture4 years ago
James Prendergast:
I feel that two years is way too short
You're in luck then since it will be at least three years old when the Neo launches.
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Jordan Lund Columnist 4 years ago
It looks like Sony is going after 4K TV owners. I bought one not too long ago and have been pricing out UHD Blu-Ray players. They're around $400.

So for the same price I could get an upgraded PS4. Assuming it's UHD capable. For the same price.

Sure! Why not?
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Richard Browne Head of External Projects, Digital Extremes4 years ago
Ralph - uh, isn't the entire article and Sony's stance that they AREN'T willing to segregate their player base? Play video at 4k, games might look a bit nicer or run a tad faster but everything must be completely compatible with the existing PS4.
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Paulmichael Contreras Contributing Editor, PlayStation LifeStyle4 years ago
the new machine is known internally as Neo, which makes for a nice fit with the original Morpheus codename for PSVR, despite the original Grecian pantheon connotations of that nomenclature
Nah, it's much simpler than that - these names come from The Matrix, which I think is awesome! I read a tweet that suggested they codename the Vita's successor as Trinity, because - SPOILER ALERT - she dies. Hah!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paulmichael Contreras on 19th April 2016 5:53pm

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James Prendergast Process Specialist 4 years ago
Haha, Jens. fair enough. I got mine later than launch but my point still stands. Even three years is virtually unheard of in consumer electronics outside of mobiles.

@Richard. Isn't the point of a console that the player/customer gets a standard performance for the generation? A bit nicer graphics and a bit better frame rate is effectively segregating the userbase.

The user/player/customer has to ask themselves: "Is this upgrade worth it?"

The developer has to ask themselves: "If I'm required to provide these upgraded options for the new system, which do I optimise for?"

The answers to both of those questions do not really bode well for adopters of the original PS4 system.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 19th April 2016 8:58pm

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Adam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee4 years ago
Some people remarked the only ones causing a fuss about this is the media, but I don't see how such a massive mid-generation update could not be seen as problematic in a number of ways, even if there are advantages.
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Something doesnt smell right here. I cant see them doing this for 4K TV's. Only a small minority of gamers have these so the upgrade for 4k TV certainly could of waited til the next Generation of consoles. SOOOOO what is the real reason for this, its kind of a drastic move by Sony, so something must be up. Is it SonyVR? it has to be, its the only thing that makes sense.
Perhaps developers for SonyVR have shared feedback that using the ps4 as is, is holding them back. At least that makes sense.

Now what doesnt make sense is how Sony marketing is not out in front of this.
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Richard Pygott Level Designer 4 years ago
I would say that MS and Sony have long looked at Apples hold on the mobile sector and been green with envy at the consumer infatuation with their products and iterative, incremental annual releases and the fact that the consumers seem to rush out to buy what is in effect a slightly improved product. It would be madness to think that MS / Sony wouldn't want their own market to operate like that.

I see this as very much a toe in the water for Sony to see what the markets reaction to this sort of upgrade is and if its a viable option in the future to release upgrades like this every 2-3 years rather than the usual 5-7 year console cycles.

the sales bump every few years, reduced R&D costs on brand new consoles and locking consumers into a marketplace in the same vein that Apple have done with the iStore etc would be the best way going forward in my opinion.

Will people be confused about the latest PlayStation, that all depends on how Sony markets the product in all honesty, i can see them releasing another upgrade in the next 2 years and so on and so on. To the point where, say in 5 years, the original PS4 base model is no longer supported and the incremental releases will continue.

Just thinking out loud...
R
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Dan Pearson Product Marketing Manager, Genvid4 years ago
Don't forget that Sony also sells 4K TVs...
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Jaakko Maaniemi4 years ago
I think Sony is going for two things here, and both are very valid:

1. Get to sell the Playstation as a 4K Bluray player. The PS3 had a big sales point in it doubling as a Bluray player, and now the timing is right for PS4 to do the same. And of course PS2 did the same with DVD.

2. Give PSVR more horsepower. Looking at Oculus/Vive recommended specs it's pretty clear the current PS4 sits just on the minimum threshold of a viable VR platform, and the relative lack of power is a major bottleneck on what kinds of content can be done (or rather how it'll look). While I didn't exactly see this coming three years ago, I remember discussing "Oh man, the timing for the new console generation is super awkward! They need these things to hit the shelves now, and the consumer VR is just on the horizon. If they could have waited a year or two they could have VR in their consoles! And 4K is coming up too, that'd be so next gen!"

Turns out Sony was able to extract a good enough VR experience out of PS4, but I'm sure most PSVR devs would welcome more power. I'm betting a lot of upcoming PSVR content will run at the lowest allowed frame rate (90 fps, was it?) and lowered fidelity on the current PS4 and higher framerate (120 fps, I guess) and/or somewhat higher fidelity on NEO PS4.

It'll be interesting to see whether (and when) there will be a PSVR 2, especially if it means higher resolution, in "this generation". PS4 NEO2, required for PSVR2, anyone? Or will they just roll out PS5.
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