PS4 Neo rumor roundup: Everything we know so far about the next PlayStation

Posted: August 10, 2016 in Opinion Piece

PS4-Neo-Thumbnal-blue

by Will Nicol via Yahoo! Tech

It hasn’t even been three years since Sony released the PlayStation 4, yet both Sony and Microsoft have more powerful consoles in the works. After the seven-year life span of the PS3, a new PlayStation may seem sudden, but Sony’s new console isn’t an entirely new device. Instead, Sony will launch the PlayStation 4 “Neo,” an upgraded version of the current console that features more powerful components.

Why iterate on the PS4? Technology moves fast, and consoles quickly become outdated in terms of performance and graphical power as PC hardware continues to advance. By updating console technology over the course of a generation, Sony — and Microsoft with its recently announced Project Scorpio — can provide console users with gaming experiences that won’t lag too far behind those on PCs. In a way, console manufacturers are simply following the model set by other devices, namely smartphones, improving on hardware rather than trying to reinvent the wheel with a each generation.

Although Sony has yet to formally reveal its console, leaks and rumors have flooded the internet for months. Here are some of the bigger rumors and leaks about the new PS4, some substantiated by Sony, some not.

Name and specs

Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Andrew House confirmed reports that Sony will launch an upgraded version of the PlayStation 4, which Sony internally referred to as “Neo,” in June, 2016. In an interview with the Financial Times, House suggested the new “high-end” PS4 would support 4K resolution.

PlayStation-Neo

The PlayStation Neo codename and the console’s specs were initially reported in April, 2016 by Giant Bomb, based on documents outlining Sony’s plans for the console. According to the report, the Neo’s CPU will apparently have a faster clock speed, running at 2.1GHz  — up from the current model’s 1.6GHz — and a more advanced AMD GPU with 36 compute units (CUs) running at 911MHz, up from 18 CUs running at 800MHz. The Neo may also have an increased memory bandwidth of 218GB/s. A 42-page report about Sony’s roadmap for the Neo with the same specs, rumored to be the report Giant Bomb cited, leaked to the public in July, 2016.

These hardware improvements would allow for better performance and graphical fidelity. In particular, The Neo can support 4K resolution and virtual reality, which is fitting given that Sony is producing both 4K televisions and the PlayStation VR headset. For those unsure what 4K means, when it comes to televisions, 4K refers to pixel resolutions of 3,840 × 2,160, which offers four times as many pixels as a typical 1080p display.

Giant Bomb’s sources indicated that, although Sony is not mandating that developers support 4K, Neo versions of games must have frame rates that meet or surpass the current frame rates on the current PS4.

The advent of virtual reality seems like a good reason for designing a better PlayStation. Although PlayStation VR will be compatible with the current model PS4, virtual reality is incredibly taxing on even high-end PCs. If Sony wants to offer a competitive VR experience, Neo’s more powerful hardware is a rational step.

PS4 and Neo will coexist

When owners of the current PS4 hear about the Neo, they may worry that they will need to buy the new model in order to play the latest games. Speaking to the Financial Times, Sony Interactive CEO Andrew House assured audiences that all PS4 games released in the future will run on the current PS4 model. This is in line with the Giant Bomb report, which asserted that not only will all PS4 games be compatible on both models, but that Sony plans to prohibit developers from designing features, modes, or unlockables exclusively for the more powerful hardware. Moreover, multiplayer modes cannot separate users on regular the PS4 and Neo.

According to the Giant Bomb report, PS4 games released from October onward will be required to make games ship with two discrete optimizations; one for the standard PS4 and another for the “Neo.”Developers can also patch older games to support the Neo hardware, if they wish to do so.

In an interview with German site Gameswelt, President of Sony’s World Studios Shuhei Yoshida said the release of Neo will not shorten the PS4’s life cycle in any way. Given the seven years between the release of the PS3 and PS4, this would indicate that Sony intends to stick with the current generation for a while.

When will Sony release the Neo? How much will it cost?

Following Rumors that Sony might unveil PlayStation Neo in September, Sony has invited members of the press to an unspecified “PlayStation Meeting” on September 7. The presentation, held at the PlayStation Theater in New York and will reportedly cover the “future of PlayStation.” While the invitations make no mention of the Neo, nor any other specific products, the general consensus given the rumors and expectations seems to be that Sony would be showing off the console at the event.

As mentioned by Kotaku’s Patrick Klepek on his Twitter account, developers are apparently disgruntled about how quickly they’ve been forced to adapt to the new requirements, lending credence to rumors that the console will actually launch this fall.

If Sony is indeed waiting until it has a good array of games to showcase, it’s possible that Neo may launch this holiday season, using October’s releases to show off the console’s power.

The PlayStation 4 Neo does not have an official release date or price. However, a product post on Amazon.com’s Spanish-language storefront leaked early. It indicated a price of 400 euros — about $450 U.S. The original PS4 retailed for 400 Euros in Europe $400 in North America at launch. The listing said the Neo would launch October 13, the same day as Sony’s PlayStation VR headset.

Updated on 07-15-2016 by Mike Epstein: Added info and link to PlayStation Neo report.

Updated on 08-09-2016 by Brendan Hesse: Added information about the possible PlayStation 4 Neo unveiling in New York on September 7, 2016.

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