PlayStation 4.5 and Xbox One.5

Kotaku dropping rumor bombs again, but their sources are usually solid, so even if this isn’t literally true there’s probably some truth in it.

Based on conversations with developers who have spoken with Sony, this ‘PS4.5’ will include an upgraded GPU both to support high-end 4K resolution for games and add more processing power that can enhance the games supported by PlayStation VR, the headset Sony will launch this fall. It’s unclear if ‘PS4.5’ is an official name or just a nickname that developers have been using. One developer jokingly called it the ‘PS4K’ while telling me about the device.

The circle of people who knew about this upgraded PS4 was small until recently. I first heard about the device from one trusted source, then two. Kotaku’s Jason Schreier and Stephen Totilo were also able to independently verify the existence of these hardware plans with their own developer sources, although some of the details have been vague; one source told us that the device felt “exploratory” and that it may not even be released this year.

We’ve also heard that at this week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Sony held meetings with developers about the hardware and how it would work. As we were chasing down this story, coincidentally, Kotaku UK EIC Keza MacDonald overheard some developers casually talking about the machine while on line at GDC. They mentioned the name ‘PS4.5’ and discussed its increased horsepower, mentioning both 4K resolution and PlayStation VR.

Microsoft has apparently been putting out feelers on a similar Xbox One.5 as well. Everyone expects a “slim” revamp of the console cases. It would be quite interesting if they both go for an incremental update that just upgrades some of the internals to hit 4K/VR targets.

Who cares about 4k-- current generation consoles are woefully underpowered for smooth gameplay at 1080p. So this is great news, if not unexpected news.

Next-generation AMD GPUs “Polaris” are coming out in Q2/Q3 and are extremely power-efficient, meaning consoles can be tiny and use less power. I expect both MS and Sony are simply waiting on those chips for a new revision. Or I suppose they could go with nVidia for this refresh, but AMD is a bit ahead on timing this cycle.

Hopefully marketing comes up with better names than 4.5 and 1.5. I suggest Playstation (mid-2016) and Xbox (mid-2016), assuming they go through the whole process of mandating backwards compatibility and playability for 3 generations, etc.

Honestly I generally burn out my early gen console by the time the slims launch anyway, so I wouldn’t mind if the replacement had a bit more muscle. I just hope that they are transparent about what the timelines for this stuff are. I may not like the Apple annual upgrade curve, but at least it’s transparent and predictable.

What would be really nice (and a pipe dream) is a trade-in program that would give you a hefty credit towards the “upgrade” as well as a free HD transfer

The interesting thing to see is how they go about educating the customer base when it comes to games and hardware compatibility. It’s an issue even among PC gamers using Steam. When you go into the tech support areas, there are always people that purchase games that they don’t have the hardware to run properly.

I think incremental hardware SKUs are going to confuse a lot of people.

No joke, am not dropping $400-500 for a slightly better PS4.

Well, having not bought one of the new gen consoles I was thinking about it, but now I would wait to see what happens with these.

Interesting. Would Sony and MS announce .1 consoles at this E3 just to smother the Nintendo NX in its crib?

I call BS on this. Sony has no business reason to do this. This is wishful thinking passes off as a story.

To support the sale of 4K TVs?

Heh, a PS4k

That’s what I would say if Kotaku didn’t seem to have so many sources all saying the same thing. I can see it being true in only 2 cases:

  1. This is a slight hardware refresh for 4K Blu-ray that incidentally allows devs to render at 4K if they want, but the underlying architecture is unchanged and hitting that resolution will require much simpler graphics.

  2. This is basically PS5 and not planned for release until 2018, but they are carrying forth PS4 compatibility by virtue of using AMD tech again and the plan is to refresh hardware every 5 years without breaking compatibility anymore.

I just can’t imagine any scenario where they’d try and launch PSVR and a PS4.5 in the same timeframe.

It would not have surprised me if both companies had always intended for mid-life-cycle incremental upgrades from the beginning of this generation, given both architectures lend themselves to the possibility a little easier than previous generations. Even before Phil Spencer floated the possibility a few weeks back.

Uh that’s not what I read. It says a more powerful GPU to allow it to do 4K, not just some scaler. That would require a vastly more powerful GPU than the current PS4 has and I don’t believe they would just update that and leave the lower end Jaguar cores around. Again doesn’t make sense, and Kotaku has been known to try and pass off rumors and speculation and insider knowledge before. More likely its early talk to devs about what the PS5 could be as yea I’d agree they probably would target 4K capable specs.

Well, sure, but we’re dealing with layers of hearsay filtered through journalists who may not have the technical acumen to properly parse what they’ve been told. FWIW I consider the first scenario I posted less likely.


In the wake of last week’s post-GDC outing of the hardware by Kotaku, we have independently established that it’s real and that Sony’s R&D labs have prototype devices, and we also have more than one source referring to it as PlayStation 4K…

I don’t see how this would not force MS’s hand in introducing a competitive box.

I like the little prototype images of the Nintendo NX that have leaked so far too. E3 should be interesting.

It’s very likely that the next-generation “X70” (ie, one level lower than the halo product) GPUs will handle 4k gaming quite well. But they will cost somewhere between $300 and $400 at retail, and I can’t imagine MS and Sony could cut more than 50% off that, so their bills of lading will be huge. Long story short, I am highly skeptical these will be 4k capable at current “900p” quality levels.

They’ll be very capable 1080p machines though-- reasonable to expect GTX970-level GPUs in there, as that performance level will be very mainstream when next-generation chips release.

I expect Microsoft to leapfrog Sony on this mini-generation to compensate for their poor performance with the Xbone. Maybe The XB1.5 will have a 970-class while the PS4k has a 960-class. The 960 is fully capable of 1080p, but perhaps not with every bell and whistle active.

This might be the key. Maybe they’re going to switch to lower quality levels to get 4k. For example, the WiiU gets 1080p for most of their games, even though it’s the equivalent of the last generation of consoles. But the WiiU games that are 1080p just happen to have a lot less detail on the screen than the current generation games on PS4 and XB1.

Even for PS VR, I figured they’d have to switch to lower detail models in order to get the resolution and framerate necessary for VR gaming out of a PS4. Similarly, they can do the same thing for 4K gaming. Lower detail, but higher resolution.

Personally I’d rather have the higher detail, lower resolution.

Ha, my old eyes agree. I can happily play a 720p game if the textures are decent and the motion & framerate are smooth.