Heavily rumoured since the Game Developer Conference 2016, the PS4 Neo or PS4K as it was known then, is touted to be Sony’s beefier variant to the existing PS4 and soon to release PS4 Slim.
And while the differences between the PS4 and PS4 Slim are relatively minor, the gap between the PS4 and the PS4 Neo is a whole lot wider. Here’s what you should know about the PS4 Neo, prior to Sony’s unveiling of the console, expected at the PlayStation Meeting on September 7.
PS4 Neo specifications
Thanks to what appeared to be a confidential presentation for the PS4 Neo making it to the Internet, information on its specifications and developer guidelines are now public. It uses the same "Jaguar" cores as the original, sporting 8 cores at 2.1GHz, making it 1.3x faster than the PS4. It also uses an enhanced version the original PS4's GPU as well, promising 36 compute units running at 911MHz, translating into a 2.3x improvement in terms of teraflops over the original PS4 and PS4 Slim’s 1.84. What is a teraflop you wonder? It’s a unit of computing speed equal to one million million (1012) floating-point operations per second. The PS4 Neo will use the same 8GB GDDR5 memory albeit with a higher bandwidth of 218 gigabits per second versus the original's 174 gigabits per second.
Surprisingly, the hard drive configuration remains the same, so expect it in 500GB and 1TB variants. Like the PS4 Slim, the PS4 Neo should also support 5GHz Wi-Fi. After the announcement of Microsoft’s Project Scorpio, operating at six teraflops compared to the the PS4 Neo’s alleged 4.2 teraflops, it's possible there could be a change in specifications for the PS4 Neo, as Sony would want to get close to, if not best Microsoft’s results.
PS4 Neo will take 4K gaming and VR mainstream
All games from October onwards have to work on both the PS4 and the PS4 Neo. Sony has stated that it’s fine to release Neo-ready titles before the console launches, while games out in September and prior will be PS4-only with a day 1 patch for Neo. This ties in with what gaming blog Giant Bomb uncovered - games for Sony’s consoles will offer a base mode and a Neo mode. The former ensures compatibility with the PS4 and PS4 Slim, while the latter takes advantage of the PS4 Neo.
One of the biggest reasons to bother with the PS4 Neo is gaming at 4K. Sony is adamant that games should either be at 1080p or 4K, skipping 1440p altogether. It has also outlined rendering techniques to developers, such as checkerboard rendering, which allow games to run closer to 4K resolution. Right now, the PS4 can display photos and videos at 4K, while games are restricted to 1080p.
Thanks to the beefier spec sheet, you can also expect VR to be a more fluid experience with the PS4 Neo. This would allow developers to create better looking games, and give Sony the chance to stand toe to toe with Oculus Rift and HTC Vive - both of which have been built with more powerful PC hardware in mind. Considering that our initial impressions of PS VR were a damp squib, this would be a welcome addition.
The PS4 Neo is unlikely to release this year
The PS VR is due in October and the PS4 Slim is on the way, so it is unlikely that Sony would release the PS4 Neo this year. New York City was home to the PS4’s first public reveal in February 2013, while the console and its price were announced at E3 2013, and the console launched in November the same year. Looking at this timeline, we'd expect the PS4 Neo around March; and if there really is a change in specifications because of Project Scorpio, even that could be an optimistic date.
PS4 Neo won’t make PS4 or PS4 Slim obsolete
Sony has made it clear that the PS4 Slim, or even the original PS4 for that matter, won’t be obsolete when the PS4 Neo hits the shelves. "PS4 is PS4, new high-end PS4 is still PS4 so you know the life-cycle is not going to be shorter," Sony Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida said in an interview earlier in the year.
And if you’re worried about game compatibility, this is what Andrew House, President and Global Chief Executive of Sony Interactive Entertainment had to say prior to E3 2016: "All games will support the standard PS4 and we anticipate all or a very large majority of games will also support the high-end PS4," he said.
With the PlayStation Meeting this week, it’s safe to say most of the stage time will be devoted to the PS4 Neo. For many, the point of interests are its price - which is rumoured to be between $400 to $450 (Rs. 27,000 to Rs. 30,000) and also whether the PS4 and PS4 Slim get a price drop. However, it is unlikely that these announcements would happen at the PlayStation Meeting, given Sony’s track record.