Sony and Microsoft both released their consoles three years ago meaning it’s about time they got an update – and if word on the town turns out to be correct, both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are about to receive a major upgrade at this year’s E3.
Rumours surrounding the PlayStation 4 upgrade have reached fever pitch in recent months and according to Giant Bomb, its internal codename is NEO and it features an almost completely overhauled interior specification.
The NEO’s CPU will be pretty much identical to the current generation PlayStation 4, with 8 Jaguar Cores, but its clock speed will be noticeably higher if rumours are to be believed – 2.1GHz from 1.6GHz.
It’s not just the CPU getting an upgrade either, Sony is also reportedly planning to enhance the GPU from an AMD GCN, 18CUs at 800MHz, to an improved AMD GCN, 36 CUs at 911MHz. There are also plans to improve the RAM speed, from 8GB GDDR5 with 176GB/s to 8GB GDDR5, 218GB/s. The HDD will supposedly remain identical however.
To take advantage of the new hardware, Sony will reportedly force every developer for the PlayStation 4 to create two different versions of their game – one designed for running on the standard PS4 and one designed for the NEO.
Games running in NEO mode will reportedly be able to take advantage of all the features an upgraded console offers. That includes a more stable frame rate and better graphics, as well as the ability to run at native Ultra HD – although the latter will not be a requirement.
While 4K Ultra HD will be a major component of games running on the NEO, it won’t be a one-size fits all component. In fact, many games will likely ditch the format in exchange for a more stable frame rate – something Sony is putting ahead of all else, making it a non-negotiable requirement that games in NEO mode perform better than those in base mode.
While developers could take advantage of the full power of NEO and ditch the standard PS4 model, Sony is reportedly ensuring that doesn’t happen. In fact, the console maker is reportedly forbidding any games developer from making a NEO-only game. That’s because the NEO is supposedly designed to complement the PlayStation 4, not replace it.
NEO owners may not get their own games, but they will also supposedly not even get their own exclusive game features. That’s because Sony is also reportedly making moves to ensure that NEO owners are on the same level as base PlayStation 4 owners in terms of feature sets. There are a number of exceptions however, according to Giant Bomb game developers will be free to limit the number of players on the base model vs the NEO. So if four players can play co-op on the base model, eight could be allowed on the NEO.
Currently Sony is refusing to comment on the existence of the NEO, but if the company is really planning on it, then expect it to feature at Sony’s E3 press conference, which takes place in June.
Microsoft is not one to be left out of proceedings, with the company also supposedly planning its own upgraded system for E3. Adding fuel to this rumour was the recent discovery of some FCC filings that show Microsoft testing a new Xbox One wireless chip – rather conveniently the NDA on that listing lifts just after E3.
Rather bizarrely, Xbox head Phil Spencer has previously said in the past that the company is not keen on following in Sony’s rumoured footsteps. During a roundtable discussion with Gameinformer, the Microsoft exec said: “I’m not a big fan of Xbox One and a half. If we’re going to move forward, I want to move forward in big numbers.
“If we’re going to go forward with anything, like I said, I want it to be a really substantial change for people — an upgrade.”
While a new wireless chip wouldn’t exactly be the most exciting change for any new Xbox One, the company could possibly add a number of other features – such as support for VR or the HoloLens. Oculus already supports Microsoft’s Xbox One controller – so it wouldn’t be much of a stretch for the VR maker to also support the Xbox One and it would give Microsoft the biggest name competitor to PlayStation’s VR.
According to The Verge, Microsoft is currently in the process of testing various Xbox One prototypes. What’s even more interesting is that some of those prototypes that are being tested come with upgradeable components – meaning users would be able to swap out key parts of the console, such as RAM and GPU, to stay up with current technologies. That’s similar to how a gaming PC works – with users able to upgrade components rather than being forced to buy a whole new PC. It could also spell the end for future Xbox hardware – as Microsoft would no longer need to offer a different console every so-many years.