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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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Dan Pearson

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