Sony’s Playstation 4 upgrade will offer a significant performance boost over the vanilla console if these latest rumors are to be believed. The Playstation 4K (or PS4.5) will feature a GPU which provides twice the performance of the original model, a pretty damn impressive upgrade.
OsirisBlack is a verified NeoGaf poster, and decided to offer some insight into the new upgraded PS4K. Pricing will is currently set to be $399.99, but may increase because according to OsirisBlack “They were discussing a better CPU which would raise the price to $499.99 we were guaranteed the price will be no higher than $499.99 (He mentioned the CPU upgrade quite a bit almost as if they haven’t really decided on a final spec could be a pricing issue.) also there is currently no plan for any type of trade in program for current PS4 users but that could change.”
Regarding the GPU it was said that “The GPU is twice as powerful as standard PS4 and much faster. They not say exactly how fast but that it was running at a higher clock speed while being much smaller than the original.”
The above is rather interesting, and potentially is a good indication that we’re going to be seeing a Polaris based GPU, which would mean AMD are providing Sony with hardware based on the 14nm FinFet architecture.
“It was also made very clear that current games would not be getting any type of performance upgrades by being played on the system and any benefits to older games would come via patch per game and per developer. When asked if this was going to happen the response was “Its a possibility but doubtful with the exception of a handful of games,” said OsirisBlack.
“We were also given a list of games that will be available at launch that will directly take advantage of the PS4K where the differences are and I will quote him “Significant.”
For the PlaystationVR, there will be the following games: Eve Valkyrie,
Robinson , GT Sport
For the Playstation 4K: Deep Down, GOW4 “(This was the exact abbreviation on the sheet I can only assume its God of War 4),” says OsirisBlack.
Speaking on the subject of the CPU side of things for a moment; there’s quite a few possibilities. The first is Sony reusing their current Jaguar cores, but at much higher clockspeeds. For example, 1.9Ghz, a significant upclock from the 1.6Ghz of the current PS4. But,. even counting the lower yields (due to fewer CPU’s being capable of running at that clock speed) it wouldn’t explain such an increase in pricing.
Another potential would be Puma, which is successor to Jaguar. It features improvements on voltage leaking and power consumption reductions, but it too would likely not account for such a large price difference.
The last (and certainly explain the much higher pricing) would be a Zen based CPU. We know this would be a huge performance boost over the Jaguar cores, particularly in IPC (Instructions Per Clock… how much ‘work’ a CPU can perform a single Mhz), but we’ve a lot less information regarding the Zen; especially in an APU setting.
We’re perfectly aware that Zen offers a 40 percent improvement over current Excavator cores currently on the desktop (for example, the FX-8350 processor), and also handles SMT too (Multi threading). This means 1 core can handle two threads – which potentially means Sony could opt to use just 4 Zen cores for a similar result.
We know for a certain from developers previous commentary that the CPU of the Playstation 4 was its weak point; and with a considerably more powerful GPU, Sony would be wise to address this imbalance. Naughty Dog, Ubisoft and even Sucker Punch have commented on the performance of the PS4’s processor.
The PS4 vanilla has 6 processor cores available to games developers, with 2 additional cores reserved to OS functionality, though supposedly Sony have freed up some of the 7th core for developers to use (but not the entire processor time on that core). Developers also need to be rather careful of ‘cross module’ cache misses, as demonstrated above. More info here.
Compared to a PC, the Playstation 4’s CPU is “Quite Slow” in the words of developers, and with the CPU driving the console, bumping up its performance makes a lot of sense for the PS4k. We’ve talked about some of the potential configurations for the Playstation 4K / Playstation 4.5 before, so check out some other ideas, It would appear our previous predictions are quite close to what Sony are thinking! Interestingly, we saw a set of benchmarks from Bink video emerge, and the developers spoke to us about those results.
It’s probable that with the additional GPU performance we’ll see extra memory speeds too. Essentially this upgraded GPU (assuming twice the performance) will need extra bandwidth to feed it. The GPU will certainly use an iteration of GCN (Graphic Core Next, the architecture inside the PS4’s GPU) which is more advanced than current models.
In turn this means the PS4K’s GPU will be more efficient, with better compression. According to AMD themselves, Tonga’s compression improved memory performance by 40 percent. Since Tonga was a later iteration of GCN than what’s found inside the PS4, we can expect to see a similar graph. Assuming Polaris has further improvements (let’s say 15 percent) we can round things off and assume the PS4K’s GPU bandwidth being more efficient.
This means around 200GB/s will feed the graphics processor, audio processors and CPU. This is quite similar to the memory configuration of the R9 380X (review) which features a 256-bit memory bus, with GDDR5 running at 5.7GHz and pumps out a bandwidth of 192GB/s.
It will be interesting if Sony opt to put additional RAM inside the console; as higher resolution textures and effects eat memory alive; and will mean interesting things for developers.
This GPU is actually around the same levels of performance what we can expect to find inside the PS4K; assuming it’s roughly twice the performance over the vanilla model. As we’ve discussed in our previous article and analysis on the PS4.5, a GPU with twice the performance (or slightly over) won’t be enough to get the Playstation 4 running at high frame rates at 4K. 4K requires a GPU to perform 4x the workload of 1080P, and that’s a tall ask of any console; and why even PC gamer’s struggle to run at 4K unless they’re running bleeding edge rigs. For more information on frame rates and resolution scaling, checkout our analysis here.
We can also presume this GPU will feature a greater number of raster units, improved geometry handling and texture units; all of which are critical for improving graphical fidelity.
The biggest issue is that asking users to part with $500 US dollars for the Playstation 4K is a risky business; that’s a lot of money to folks, especially if you’re also thinking of jumping into PSVR. Hopefully Sony offers some help to users with a trade in program of some description.
Sony are going to ensure you’re able to run games across PS4 devices, meaning if you own a vanilla machine, you’ll be able to play games optimized for PS4K; but likely with much lower resolution, frame rate or graphical quality. But this might be tricky for developers to create and optimize code and gameplay across two different versions, particularly on games such as God of War, which are extremely visual.
It’s also likely that Sony are going to end up supporting the latest versions of HDCP and HDMI, which will allow the PS4K to stream 4K content, and this is something Sony have promised Netflix and other companies in the past. With AMD now fully supporting HDMI 2.0 they can pass this technology on to Sony, and it will be a welcome addition to gamer’s or users who’re interested in doing more than just gaming on their system.
Finally, on the subject of the Playstation VR – the vanilla machine will be able to power the PSVR just fine, but with lower visual fidelity (lower graphical settings). The ‘breakout box’ of the PSVR doesn’t handle any graphical processing apart from ‘unwarping’ the image which the PS4 puts out for the PSVR headset, this ‘unwarped’ image is then what viewers will see on the TV. The PSVR box will however handle some 3d audio processing on behalf of the console, which will obviously reduce the systems workload some.
It might be that Sony end up competing against themselves, with some folks potentially deciding to buy the PSVR and using it on the PC, and putting the money for the PS4K into upgrading their PCs instead.
Other rumors suggest Sony are planning to announce the Playstation 4.5 prior to the PSVR’s launch in October, so we won’t have much longer to wait.