The coming months will bear witness to a veritable console war, as the three major players in the video gaming niche all release new machines.
PlayStation 4 Neo
The first to arrive to market will be the PlayStation 4 Neo, which is expected sometime in October. This is essentially an upgraded version of the existing PlayStation 4, with the machine placing a particular emphasis on supporting 4K and virtual reality gaming.
This updated console will ship utilising upgraded AMD architecture, built using an innovative new processes. Updates to the internal chipset of the PlayStation 4 Neo will also ensure that it improves performance significantly over the existing PlayStation 4. A beefed-up GPU and higher bandwidth memory are also anticipated.
Analysts believe that the PlayStation 4 Neo will hit the stores armed with an 8-core CPU clocked at 2.1GHz, compared with the 1.6GHz included in the current PS4. Memory bandwidth will also be increased from 176 GB/s to 218GB/s, with the GPU actually receiving the largest upgrade, doubling compute units from 18 to 36.
Many analysts remain sceptical that this package will be able to deliver 4K resolution gaming, but what is certain is that improved screen resolutions and frame rates will be possible. Leaks from close to the Sony supply chain suggest that the PlayStation 4 Neo will deliver 4.14 TFLOPS of computing power versus the 1.84 TFLOPS offered by the current PlayStation 4.
Sony has reportedly been pressured into this mid-generation machine owing to the necessity to produce a console which delivers advanced VR performance. There are question marks over the ability of the existing PlayStation 4 to achieve this, even though Sony has continually emphasized that the forthcoming PlayStation VR helmet will indeed be compatible with the PS4.
The price tag of this machine should also be relatively affordable, meaning that many Sony fans will consider upgrading when the console becomes available in October. The next Microsoft released, the Xbox Scorpio, is not anticipated until the latter months of 2017, perhaps offering Sony an advantage in the market.
In many ways, the Xbox Scorpio is far less of a gamble for Microsoft than the PlayStation 4 for Sony. With the manufacturer lagging behind the Japanese market leader, it is obvious that Microsoft must do something significant with its gaming range if it is to achieve equality in the marketplace.
Project Scorpio is this console, and the rumors regarding this next generation machine is that it will not only significantly improve upon the existing Xbox One, but also deliver superior performance to the PlayStation 4 Neo. Linked with 6 TFLOPS of computing power, the Xbox Scorpio will even be competitive with some PC desktops if such specs can indeed be included.
There is some scepticism on this matter, despite the fact that these figures come direct from Microsoft. Producing a console with such power and also ensuring that it is affordable will be a massive challenge for Microsoft, despite the fact that the extra 12-month gap until release date will assist this process.
Nonetheless, Microsoft has been keen to push the idea that this will be the most powerful console ever manufactured and released, with the Xbox Scorpio reportedly being built specifically to deliver 4G gaming and virtual reality without any sacrifice of performance.
It seems likely that AMD chips will feature in this console, even though this has not been confirmed by the manufacturer as of yet. A tie-in with Oculus Rift is likely, and there have also been murmurings that this console could eliminate the disc drive, relying entirely on downloads and digital media.
Microsoft will radically alter the chipset architecture included in the Xbox Scorpio in order to deliver the sort of power that it envisages and desires. There have also been reports that the Xbox Scorpio will emulate the Xbox One, in order to ensure that the console can deliver backward compatibility out of the box.
Nintendo has never been a corporation satisfied with simply following the crowd, and the Nintendo NX will very much fit into this ethos. This next generation released from the Japanese video game giant is scheduled for March 10, 2017, with Nintendo already stating that it will be an extremely innovative machine.
The Nintendo NX is rumored to be powered by Tegra X2 Chip, and is expected to deliver a similar level of power to the existing PlayStation 4. This would mean that full HD 1080p would be a central feature of a Nintendo console for the first time.
Media reports suggest that this console will be a hybrid, combining elements of portable and home units. Patents have been discovered suggesting that the controller included with the Nintendo NX will feature a touchscreen LED display in the centre of the device.
Satoru Iwata, the Japanese video game programmer and businessman who served as the fourth president and CEO of Nintendo, has stated that the Nintendo NX will be far more than simply an upgrade to the existing hardware. It has been described by the corporation as an entirely new way of playing games, which will have a much greater impact on the niche than the Wii U.
Nintendo will also be reliant on its unequalled game development for the NX, with new titles in iconic series such as Mario and Zelda hugely awaited. Five titles have already been confirmed for release on at the new console, with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild certainly the most anticipated. A new Sonic title will also appear on the machine, while Square Enix has announced considerable support for the console as well.
A full HD Nintendo console featuring an innovative new concept, more processing power, and a raft of iconic titles could make the sort of impression on the market that the corporation is craving, after the disappointing performance of the Wii U.