Hopefully you’ve been one of the few to hold out on buying a PS4, because some more solid reports are coming out about Sony’s revision which is code named ‘NEO’. Since this strategy is new for the top three console makers, we will certainly put this under the microscope. However, over time this sort of practice will likely become accepted as the norm. So what exactly is changing? How about upgraded CPU, RAM and GPU specs to help it toward a 4K output, you know, the specs everyone is most interested in. Instead of simply a die shrink and some other thermal improvements, the NEO will be a true performance upgrade. Perhaps not all games will be capable of squeezing 4K into the specs available, but it will certainly become possible for some through up-scaling. The extra horsepower should give title makers at least the choice to churn through normally sluggish parts of the game without bogging the frame rate or resorting to dynamically reducing the resolution. According to the Giant Bomb starting in October, every new game being published for the PS4 will require a ‘Base Mode’ as well as a ‘NEO Mode’ which the new console may take advantage of.
|CPU||8 Jaguar Cores at 1.6 GHz||8 Jaguar Cores at 2.1 GHz|
|GPU||AMD GCN, 18 CUs at 800 MHz||Improved AMD GCN, 36 CUs at 911 MHz|
|Memory||8 GB GDDR5, 176 GB/s||8 GB GDDR5, 218 GB/s|
So looking ahead, does this mean that we may have a PS4.25 with multiple hardware revisions beyond NEO Mode? Will game developers be required to create their games with five different console configurations in mind? This is becoming reminiscent of the Android fragmentation issues experience in the smartphone world. If Sony requires developers to support multiple iterations of hardware, then we should probably be concerned. Having development time wasted on making a game compatible across many different hardware configurations doesn’t speak well for feature rich and polished game play. The differences in software may turn out to be very subtle and not require much development time. But Sony shouldn’t encourage a race to the bottom, a battle for the lowest common denominator in software design. Developers should be focused on trying to make their titles play as best they possibly can on the hardware they are given. Instead, they would be focused on making five titles with the same name fit within one software package.
Clearly there are two sides to this coin, where on one side you alienate the existing user base, and on the other hand you put excess burden on game developers. This may unfortunately lead to a reduction in overall game quality and creativity. This is all assuming that Sony continues down the path of releasing improved hardware revisions. If they don’t take that approach and merely cover a one time PS4+ type of approach, then this becomes a simpler to manage situation. However, it doesn’t explain why they have made this change so soon when their console has been performing very well. It would make more sense to do this near the end of the consoles life cycle, unless they felt pressure from one of the other top two console makers with Nintendo’s NX and Microsoft’s Phil Spencer suggesting hardware upgrades.
Do you think this is a good change or do you think Sony has messed up?