New details on upgraded PS4 emerge, will contain faster memory, processing power, and GPU

Games will run on "base" and upgraded PS4s, but developers are purportedly disgruntled over the extra development efforts associated with achieving parity across both platforms.

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Update [3:07p]

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.

Original Story

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.

Contributing Editor

From The Chatty

    • reply
      April 19, 2016 1:58 PM

      "offer increased and more stable frame rate "

      Assuming that is accurate, which makes total sense, then there's the scapegoat letting developers tweak their games for better NEO experience and allow base to have terrible frame rates. So, yes, there very much will be a fractured user base. I don't see a developer spending the time to tune against two different performance specs for one platform. You'll tune against the higher standard which will give you the best performance and it only encourages people to upgrade their box.

      "In other words, don't bank on a better VR experience just because you invest in a NEO."

      Well, that's wrong for exact same reasons.

      " 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.""

      Exactly my point. A dev would most likely either develop for the lowest common denominator (base), which the NEO wouldn't have pure muscle benefit. Or, tune for NEO and give a wet slap what base performance ends up being. Just no way they'll tune both. It's too much time and money to do so.

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        April 19, 2016 2:05 PM

        Yeah, the bit about a better VR experience got lost in translation. I'll amend the article. Thanks!

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        April 19, 2016 2:10 PM

        it doesn't make much sense to suggest devs will target the NEO at the expense of testing for the original. Their customers are overwhelmingly not using the NEO. The individual dev has no incentive to force/encourage people to buy new hardware.

        And the whole thing breaks down when you acknowledge the PC. Clearly devs, even indie ones, do have time to test that a resolution change works.

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          April 20, 2016 12:43 AM

          Games already have frame rate issues and loading time issues, this isn't going to make things better in that regard.

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        April 19, 2016 4:55 PM

        If Sony's tools are solid enough, and there isn't much difference between the hardware we could be looking at a situation where the NEO just plays the same games better simply by having more performance to offer.

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        April 19, 2016 6:47 PM

        holy shit I never would have thought we would see that about a console update. I've always thought that was the biggest benefit to consoles. Games usually got better towards the end of its life but you could always play them on all versions of the console and get the same experience.

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      April 19, 2016 2:05 PM

      This does not in any way strike me as a wise idea.

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        April 19, 2016 2:15 PM

        Newsflash: Water wet

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        April 19, 2016 2:32 PM

        Would be interesting to see what their issue is, I would have assumed given that its the same architecture with more processing power/bandwidth it just mean an unscaled experience of the same game on their engine.
        Basically the game doesn’t shit the bed with 30fps@900p resolution, aggressive lod pop ins and all that jazz. Lets say 60fps@1080p for action games and more post processing for games that don't need the 60fps.

        Its not 10 years ago, even japanese developers have access to cross platform engines.

      • reply
        April 19, 2016 4:57 PM

        A trusted source has informed me that eating Lucky Charms can in fact improve your financial situation four fold!

    • reply
      April 19, 2016 3:57 PM

      Can't wait for Neo+ and "Neo+ Ultimate Deluxe Premium Elite" modes.

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      April 19, 2016 4:37 PM

      Why would they fracture their user base like that? Also are developers really going to bother making games for both PS4s?

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        April 19, 2016 4:51 PM

        It is not really fracturing anything when games will run on both.

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        April 19, 2016 5:09 PM

        Best case scenario 60 FPS Bloodborne & Destiny.

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        April 19, 2016 5:19 PM

        giant bomb doc says devs will be required to make for both, with same gameplay functionality across the platforms.

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          April 19, 2016 5:47 PM

          But making two versions could literally just be the same game with the graphic settings turned up a little bit. Basically the equivalent of "High" and "Ultra" from PC games. It doesn't need to be a whole different game.

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          April 19, 2016 5:48 PM

          Yep, this. Sony can make them, and that's the only way it really makes sense. Games on the new console can just run faster or at higher res, or they can bother to actually make it look better if they want. Hopefully they're strict about requiring adequate performance on base PS4s.

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        April 19, 2016 5:30 PM

        why is it any different than other things co-existing? devs can make things for a gazillion versions of android, several IOS devices with varying CPUs and such.

        the situation here is we need improvement on consoles, and sony has sensed the opportunity to really stand alone as an enthusiast console, eager to bring better hardware to market. everyone is better off from this. give people the choice, and see what happens.

        when they say "this is UHD ready" or something, we will get amazing data if people are concerned about fracturing or anything.

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        April 19, 2016 5:40 PM

        Nothing will be approved unless it can run on both. There will also be no advantages aside from performance (ie - no special items or DLC only for PS4K users).

        The question is if developers will put the resources into supporting both, but old PS4 users won't be left behind.

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        April 19, 2016 9:52 PM

        They are required to make it run on both, and no worse on the NEO framerate wise than the PS4. Nowhere does it say they are required to make it run better on the NEO, stupid huh?

      • reply
        April 20, 2016 12:48 AM

        Bungie bothered to release Destiny for PS3, 360, PS4 and XBO, this is way easier than that.

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          April 20, 2016 5:30 AM

          Well, Bungie is also a developer with hundreds of employees. They could probably put a man on the moon, too, doesn't mean it won't be a pain in the ass for a smaller developer.

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            April 20, 2016 9:18 AM

            Bungie says the reason they didn't do a PC version was that it would have been too hard. They can't be that good.

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        April 20, 2016 4:22 AM

        I wonder if the base/neo differences won't turn out to be rather small. The ps4 has 50% more GPU than the xb1, but the games look rather similar. I'd think this will be a relatively small difference too.

        A new console generation usually has a x10 factor in memory and speed, a x2 jump will just be a few small bells and whistles, And maybe 60 fps, which would be very nice, but I bet many consumers wouldn't notice that, they'll have motion interpolation on their TVs and won't see an obvious change :-(

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          April 20, 2016 9:20 AM

          Motion interpolation adds a crap ton of latency in the form of input lag. That has been my experience anyway. Any models you'd recommend?

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        April 20, 2016 7:03 AM

        They aren't, they are fracturing their developers efforts. Which imho doesn't have to be that bad.

        The biggest problem will be 720 titles on the ps4 which then would be 1080 on the neo.
        That is a real risk, but then again, we have to acknowledge that the ps4 is going to have issues soonish with bigger titles like bf5 etc.

        With this the customers can potentially choose better graphics instead of accepting whatever can be done on a ps4..

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        April 20, 2016 7:18 AM

        Despite what the development doc says, I expect this shit to completely change in like 1-2 years when there is potentially a bigger install base of PS4.5s. At that point I bet we're going to start seeing some games that straight won't work on the original PS4.

        If that scenario never comes to pass, then what is the point of this revision? Games are eventually going to want to take advantage of the extra hardware in a meaningful way beyond setting shadows from medium to high, especially as high-end PC stuff is just going to keep steadily pushing forward.

        Seems like a weird move all around, but very interesting and potentially great for gaming tech.

        • reply
          April 20, 2016 9:22 AM

          You think the performance between these two consoles will be that large? We have PS3 versions of PS4 games. The gap between these two will likely be far less than that, and they will likely share an almost identical architecture.

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      April 19, 2016 9:05 PM

      I hope this gets more people to move to the PC.

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        April 19, 2016 9:59 PM

        How would that work? The neo is said to be 399 which is still the price of a good pc gaming video card and not any of the other parts you need.

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      April 20, 2016 4:15 AM

      Paging vornoporno

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      April 20, 2016 4:47 AM

      I hope MS uses Morpheus as the codename for the Xbone+