A correction was made to what NEO may portend for PlayStation VR performance. I originally interpreted Giant Bomb's comment about VR and NEO to mean that PlayStation VR wouldn't necessarily get a bump in performance on NEO consoles, but they meant NEO users wouldn't necessarily be privy to exclusive modes.
Giant Bomb's Austin Walker has been contacted by numerous sources who shared details related to "NEO," the codename for Sony's upgraded PlayStation 4.
NEO will boast an improved CPU, GPU, and more memory. "The NEO will feature a higher clock speed than the original PS4, an improved GPU, and higher bandwidth on the memory," according to Giant Bomb.
Walker's sources mentioned that the hard disk drive in NEO will be "the same" as in the base PS4, although Walker isn't sure if that's in reference to capacity or connection speed.
Other details concern how the NEO and base PS4 will run games. Per Giant Bomb, all games will be required to operate in base and NEO mode beginning in October. "Games running in NEO mode will be able to use the hardware upgrades (and an additional 512 MiB in the memory budget) to offer increased and more stable frame rate and higher visual fidelity, at least when those games run at 1080p on HDTVs," per Giant Bomb. "The NEO will also support 4K image output, but games themselves are not required to be 4K native."
Requiring games to run in two modes indicates that Sony has heard (and likely anticipated far in advance) concerns from players and developers that introducing an upgraded PS4 will fracture Sony's user base. Walker confirmed that, per his sources, developers are prohibited from releasing NEO-only games; the mandate of base and NEO modes have been put into place to ensure that owners of base PS4s will get to enjoy new games that take advantage of NEO's beefier specs.
Walker speculates that the parity between base PS4 and NEO should extend to PlayStation VR. In other words, don't bank on exclusive VR modes if you get a NEO.
Bridging the gap between base PS4 and NEO players is a good move on Sony's part, but the advent of an upgraded PS4 will result in more work for developers. "A trusted source tells me most developers are not happy with PS4.5, and having to develop around it," tweeted ex-IGN editor Colin Moriarty, now at Kinda Funny Games. "Extra cost, planning, other nonsense."
As for a release date, just because games must exhibit base and NEO modes as of October doesn't necessarily mean NEO consoles will hit stores in the same month. "The documents we’ve received explicitly note that devs are allowed to launch NEO-ready games before the NEO itself releases," according to Giant Bomb.