There is no doubt that the biggest news of the video gaming year has been the apparent existence of the PlayStation 4.5. It seemed extremely likely that we would have to wait for the PlayStation 5 for the next console from Sony, but it seems that the Japanese corporation has different ideas from previous console generations.
PlayStation 4.5 – A mid-generation console
Although other console manufacturers have previously released mid-generation machines, this is the first time that Sony has contemplated a major console between mainstream releases. Of course, there have been PlayStation Slim consoles placed on the market, and other refined models, but this is the first time that a souped up PlayStation console has emerged between generations.
Many gamers and industry analysts are now eagerly awaiting what Sony has in mind for the PS 4.5, and there was a clue this week from the chip manufacturer AMD. This company will provide the chipset for the PlayStation 4.5, and thus its plans for the immediate future will be very important for fans of the PlayStation.
AMD recently held its Investor Day, during which the company disclosed its strategy for the next twelve months. This involves a range of information, with the corporation having secured deals with the Chinese government to expand its x86 processors. AMD also made reference to “new semi-custom business in 2H 2016”, which many believe refers to the forthcoming Nintendo NX console, which will probably be announced during the forthcoming Tokyo Game Show 2016.
But according to sources close to AMD, some of its new Polaris systems are intended for the PlayStation 4.5, or PlayStation Neo as it is apparently codenamed. It is believed that the Polaris earmarked for the PlayStation 4.5 is clocked at 911MHz; an improvement on the 800MHz unit included in the PlayStation 4. The number of units should also increase from the current 1,152, with a number in excess of 1,500 cores anticipated by some analysts.
Other figures related to the chipset and processor in the PlayStation 4.5 have also been leaked, and these suggest that the memory controller is 256-bit wide, with GDDR5 memory running higher than the current 1.38 GHz QDR. The recent developments in GDDR5 modules also means that the clock speed for the PlayStation 4.5 is likely to be 1.75 GHz, ultimately resulting in 224 GB/s.
This is all extremely technical, of course, but what it means in layman’s terms is that the PlayStation 4.5 should receive a 20 percent boost in processing compared with the last generation PlayStation 4. Whether this will be enough to deliver everything Sony hopes for from the console remains to be seen, but it does provide the machine with the potential to deliver higher screen resolutions than the current generation PlayStation 4.
While Sony is remaining tight-lipped on the existence of the PlayStation 4.5, sources close to the Japanese corporation believe that the PlayStation 4.5 will launch in October. Indeed, it is still anticipated that this mid-generation console will proceed the launch of the PlayStation VR headset.
While Sony has made it abundantly clear that developers must support both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4.5 with all titles, the fact that the release date of the new console is so close to the PlayStation VR ETA will lead to speculation that improved virtual reality will be possible with the new console.
A leaked developers’ note from Sony has already indicated that the PlayStation 4.5 will support 4K output across all media. This dangles the tantalizing prospect of 4K gaming in the current console generation, but many remain sceptical that it will be possible for the PlayStation 4.5 to deliver this. However, we should see all games on the PlayStation 4.5 run at 60 frames per second in 1080p mode, while it may also be possible for nifty developers to produce quad HD / ultra HD titles. Maybe some really innovative games will crack 4K, and there is always the possibility that simpler titles will also run in this extremely high definition resolution.
What can be said for certain is that it will be possible to view media in 4K on the PlayStation 4.5, and this opens up the possibility of Sony including a 4K Blu-ray drive in the machine. Sony could also forge agreements with other providers of 4K content such as Netflix and Amazon in order to deliver exciting 4K media for new PlayStation 4.5 users.
What Sony has also made clear, at least according to the leaked note to developers, is that the PlayStation 4.5 will not have any special hardware peripherals. That means that the will be no specific virtual reality features available with the new console that cannot also be carried out on the PlayStation 4, or at least this is the implication of the text.
However, it is possible, and indeed probable, that the PlayStation 4.5 will be able to deliver a somewhat improved virtual reality experience when the PlayStation VR headset hits the market. Whether this would just encompass improved resolution, or whether Sony could tack on a couple of extra features remains to be seen, although the note to developer certainly did imply that both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4.5 would deliver the same core virtual reality experience.
But considering the demands of virtual reality, it seems certain that the PlayStation 4.5 will be able to deliver virtual reality gaming in improved resolution and with higher frame rates than the older PlayStation 4 console.
With no information at all emanating directly from Sony, analysts have been left in the dark regarding the pricing of the console, and estimates have been based on market trends. But it certainly seems that this somewhat improved PlayStation 4.5 will will need to be placed at a competitive price point when it arrives in the stores. Thus, a figure of $399 has been mentioned in some quarters, and this seems about right for what cannot be regarded as a truly next generation machine.