Sony Announces the New PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro

Subject: General Tech | September 7, 2016 - 09:18 PM |
Tagged: sony, ps4, ps4 pro, microsoft, Project Scorpio, xbox

At today's media briefing event, Sony announced two new versions of their PlayStation 4 console. The first is not even given a new name; they are just referring to it as the “new slimmer and lighter PS4” in their marketing material. It replaces the current version with one that is about 30% smaller, 16% lighter, and 28% more power efficient, according to a press release provided by AMD.

This update will be sold for $299.99 USD ($379.99 CDN) starting on September 15th.

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The main topic of discussion was the PlayStation 4 Pro, though. Like Microsoft is doing with Project Scorpio, Sony wants the PS4 Pro to be compatible with the same catalog of titles, but do so at higher resolution and color depths. Sony claims that this generation is basically maxing out what can be done with 1080p. PC developers do not seem to have a problem using performance for new features, but the point that development costs are quickly becoming the limiting factor is valid to some extent.

In terms of specifications, while the CPU got an unspecified speed bump, the main upgrade is a new GPU, which is rated at 4.2 TFLOPs. This is about 30% slower than Microsoft's announced Project Scorpio (6 TFLOPs) but it also will arrive a year sooner. Will this lead time matter, though? The software catalog is already being built up by both companies, and it has been since each console launched in 2013.

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Did they ever explain the extra ring on the case?

Also, because Microsoft started with a weaker console, scaling up to 4K resolution should be easier for their game developers. Project Scorpio is about 4.6x faster than the Xbox One, and it intends to draw four times the number of pixels. The gap between the PS4 and the PS4 Pro is just 2.3x. That could be a problem for them. (Meanwhile, us PC gamers can strap multiple 10+ TFLOP GPUs together for true 4K at decent frame rates, but that's another discussion.)

Granted, theoretical is different than real-world. We'll need to re-evaluate the industry in a couple of years, once an appropriate amount of hindsight is available. Also, Sony claims that PlayStation VR will still be available for both consoles, and that it will be a good experience whatever you choose. This is clearly aimed at Microsoft requiring Project Scorpio for their upcoming VR initiative, although likely to prevent confusion in their own fan base, rather than prodding their competitor.

Again, the PlayStation 4 Pro is launching this year, November 10th, and is expected to retail for $399.99 USD ($499.99 CDN). It's not a big jump in performance, but it's also not a big jump in price, either. In fact, I would consider it priced low enough to question the value of the regular PS4, even at $299.

What are your thoughts? Is this actually priced too low for pro?

Source: Sony

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September 7, 2016 | 09:39 PM - Posted by quest4glory

Exactly what I was thinking - it's not that the PS4 Pro is too expensive (it's on par with the original MSRP of PS4) but rather, is the PS4 now priced to high? I would think it would fly off shelves at $199.

September 7, 2016 | 10:45 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

A lot of base model PS4s are probably purchased for children. You probably don't need to spend an extra $100 for an 8 year old playing on a 40 inch tv or something. If you want VR though, then you probably should get the Neo. VR made to run on the original PS4 will probably feature pretty low end graphics. There are obviously people in their 20s, 30s, and older who play video games, but a lot of those people will have the income for a PC. I assume children are still a big part of the market for consoles. Some parents might be willing to buy a $1500 gaming PC for their kids, but for a lot of parents, that is just too much. Consoles give them a cheap option which means that there is still a market for the original PS4, although a lot of people who would want a PS4 will already have one in the US. I would still expect some sales in the US for Christmas. The US isn't the only market also. There is probably much less saturation in other countries. If they have cut production cost, they can sell the units cheaper in those countries.

September 7, 2016 | 10:49 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Depending on how much they intend to lose on it. I doubt that Sony could make the slim for $199, although the PS3 was sold under cost for, like, three years, with intent to make that back in license fees. Both Microsoft and Sony are avoiding that this generation.

September 8, 2016 | 12:03 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

What about High Dynamic Range(HDR) on Polaris? That should allow for much better image quality that will probably upscale much better than any frames rendered without HDR enabled GCN versions/other graphics.

September 10, 2016 | 04:22 AM - Posted by JohnGR

All GCN cards(or at least most versions of GCN) support HDR, that's why Sony will be able to bring HDR to the original PS4 with just a firmware update.

September 10, 2016 | 04:28 AM - Posted by JohnGR

That's why they gone AMD. Because they wanted to have profits from day one. And it worked just fine, that's why they stay with AMD. If it hasn't worked or if they where still following the old business model, then probably there would have been no Pro or scorpio. Just two models, two more expensive models from the beginning, that would have still hurt their financials and also wouldn't have sold as good as those with the APUs. With Intel i5 and a hi end GPU inside.

September 7, 2016 | 09:54 PM - Posted by odizzido (not verified)

[quote] Sony claims that this generation is basically maxing out what can be done with 1080p[/quote]

Really, so they're running 1920x1080 at over 100FPS minumum with a game that looks like you're looking out a window and not at a TV screen?

What I said was stupid, but it only illustrates how stupid that quote is.

September 7, 2016 | 10:33 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

There is a limit to how much processing will produce a noticeable difference in output. No matter how much processing per pixel you do, a standard 1080p tv is not going to look like you are looking out a window. A tv with HDR will get that a little bit closer. Also, most TVs are viewed from maybe 8 to 12 feet away; you just can't see that much detail, even with a larger screen. It is a bit different when you are 2 feet in front of a 30 or 40 inch computer display or something. As for refresh rate, I would wonder how many TVs used for gaming consoles are even capable of more than 60 Hz. Anyway, it is just marketing fluff. I don't think it is too bad as far as such marketing goes.

September 8, 2016 | 01:20 AM - Posted by NamelessTed

I think the point is that even at 1080p there are massive increases in visual fidelity to be had and trying to jump to 4K is just adding unnecessary workload. If we had hardware that was capable of running games in real time that looked like a Pixar movie then I would say it might be time for the console to increase resolution.

Obviously, there is a balance. But, as it stands rendering at 4k is about 4x more intensive than 1080p. If we can come up with some technique to significantly decrease the workload to render at 4K then it might be worth it. But, if you had a box that was 4x more powerful than the current consoles I believe that power would be better spent first on increasing framerates to 60fps across the board and then go from there. The sub-1080p 30fps bullshit has gone on long enough.

September 8, 2016 | 05:35 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I agree, but reality is that going 4K (bumping resolution) is way cheaper for developers then delivering cinema quality animations.

September 8, 2016 | 11:15 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Of course, the physics, animations, and reflections will still be calculated at 15 or 30fps to save compute power.

If anyone thinks PS4 Pro will natively render realistic-looking games at 4K, even at 30fps reliably, they are probably retarded. we'll see 1080/1440/~2800 maybe all upscaled to 4K. Maybe candy crush will do 4K60, but a modern cell phone can do that...

The improvements are welcome, but Sony is shooting itself in the foot marketing this as a 4K gaming machine. Even the more powerful Xbox Scorpio will be hard pressed to do real 4K gaming. They'd have to use every trick in DX12's book to get close... but even then the fill rate for 4K60 will probably be out of reach...

September 8, 2016 | 11:17 AM - Posted by NamelessTed

Obviously actual cinema quality visuals are a long way off still. But as it stands today there are plenty of ways to increase visual fidelity that doesn't take a lot of resource time. Physics based animations, improved lighting effects, ambient occlusion, all sorts of particle effects, etc. If devs are trying to make the jump up to 4K, regardless of the power of the console, the visuals are absolutely going to suffer.

I think its going to be harder to sell those new systems if the only difference ends up being their resolution as it won't actually look any better to most people on a TV in a living room. 4K is just some bullshit the marketing department decided was important, buts its one of those things thats impossible to show. It would be much easier to show the difference between maxed visual settings vs lower settings in a video or some screenshots.

September 8, 2016 | 02:42 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

"impossible to show"

Umm... hyperbole much?

September 7, 2016 | 10:56 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

"Pro" is a stupid name. There generally isn't anything "professional" about anything with a "Pro" suffix. I would have preferred that they just have called it the "Neo" or something, but they may have other plans that would not fit with that. Although, I don't know how "Pro" would fit into a tiered structure unless there are only 2 tiers. I suspect that MS are going to move to a tiered structure with successive designs sticking around as small form factor, low power devices. There are a lot of games that do not require huge amounts of graphics power and a lot of other things that can be done on a console, such as media streaming, so these could still be useful devices in the future. At 10 nm, an Xbox One or PS4 level of performance might be the size and cost of an Apple TV. There is room in the market for such devices. I kind of expected 3 tiers eventually, but who knows.

September 8, 2016 | 12:23 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

"while the CPU got an unspecified speed bump, the main upgrade is a new GPU, which is rated at 4.2 TFLOPs. This is about 30% slower than Microsoft's announced Project Scorpio (6 TFLOPs) but it also will arrive a year sooner. Will this lead time matter, though?"

Nothing stopping Sony from updating again to something Zen based and more than 6 TFLOPS on the GPU in a year's time. It looks like a hardware war is starting among the two big console makers and AMD looks to be more than willing to semi-custom design for any console maker. The games engineered for GCN 3.0, will run on GCN 4.0 with the developers having plenty of time to tweak the games to take advantage of Polaris, and Vega when it arrives. I see maybe trade-ins for the console makers with the used units fixed up and sold in other markets to cover some of the trade-in costs! What do the console makers have to lose the hardware is still tied to their closed ecosystems and that's is where the real money is made from the console peasants!

September 8, 2016 | 12:33 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This was like the worst day for VR since Lackey announced the price wasn't going to be $350 for the FB_VR.

Sony made it very clear that the VR experience on the regular PS4 is going to be subpar compared to the Pro.

So you have to spend $800 for a worse than PC experience. Brilliant. Also no PC compatibility announced. And no Rockstar? WTF...

iPhone VR.... nope...

Google release more details about daydream at that euro conference... nope...

FKit... i'm going to cancel my ps4 VR headset much like i canceled my plans to buy Oculus. FU Apple for just being shitty. Can we please get a good Android $200 tablet already?

I guess i'll just buy BF1 and do the same crap since BF3

September 8, 2016 | 01:30 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Glad to know it is still 8GB.
RX480 8GB is safe bet then.

September 8, 2016 | 06:34 AM - Posted by remc86007

I love how so many articles and commenters (present company excluded) are talking about how this will allow games that previously ran at 30fps to run at 60fps. That is ignoring the fact that the consoles run one of the weakest x86 processors in production which has been shown to be the bottleneck in many games and the "pro" doesn't get anywhere close to a doubling of clockspeed.

September 8, 2016 | 10:52 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Jayztwocents proved recently that 4 Jaguar cores at 2GHz is enough to run Doom well over 60 fps. I was genuinely surprised.

September 8, 2016 | 04:47 PM - Posted by remc86007

That video proves my point. Look at the framerates of the other games he's testing. More importantly look at the Doom framerate when in the slightly more cpu heavy sections. Shooting the gun caused the FPS to temporarily drop down into the 30s. Getting an average FPS high with a weak CPU on FPS games is easy, but it is much more important and much more difficult to get the minimums up over 60.

September 10, 2016 | 03:48 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Uncharted 4 multiplayer is close to 60fps on the old PS4. Naughty Dog managed to do it at the cost of slightly increased latency.

September 8, 2016 | 11:55 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You forget that Polaris/GCN 4.0 has more async-compute to take the load off of and reduce the latency from having things done on the CPU. So with Polaris and API's like Vulkan(the PS 4 Pro is not using DX12) more of the game’s non graphics functionality will actually be run/accelerated on the GPU. So those Cat cores are getting a little speed boost and there will still be 8 CPU cores, to go along with more Polaris async-compute enabled cores with all the Polaris GPU's instruction pre-fetch and extra GPU hardware scheduling resources that the Polaris micro-architecture offers. This new APU with the Polris graphics needs to be looked at more closely, so maybe Chip-works will have more information when the new PS4 Pro is on the market.

September 8, 2016 | 04:41 PM - Posted by remc86007

It would be nice if more game engines used these capabilities, but the problem is that the vast majority of them do not. Even games that utilize the more modern APIs and async do not necessarily run above 30FPS on 8 Jaguar cores at 1.75Ghz so they sure as heck aren't going to run at 60FPS at whatever clock this thing runs at. See Hitman 2016.

September 8, 2016 | 07:54 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

"Sony claims that this generation is basically maxing out what can be done with 1080p. "


how bout getting everything UP to 1080P before saying that, never mind the things that ARE 1080p 60fps are NOT pushing anything. so instead lets go to 4k with even less visual vibrancy and lower frame rate.

September 8, 2016 | 10:39 AM - Posted by Geforcepat (not verified)

Um. $399 sounds right to me. only pcper would complain about lower prices.

September 8, 2016 | 11:13 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This is what should have been released 3 years ago when they first launched the new consoles. Of course Sony is trying to double-dip in their user base now.

I was waiting for it to maybe get one. But the lack of UHD Bluray playback is surprisingly dumb. Even the XBOS has it - it makes no sense to not add it.

It is also amazing how much Sony regressed.
PS3 - it only does everything.
PS4 - gaming, barely (seriously, what they have now is a competent 1080p console. The original/standard PS4 is a competent 720p system).

September 8, 2016 | 12:22 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

No UHD support makes the PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro completely pointless for anyone considering upgrading from a launch PS4. This is nothing more than a mid-life bump. Microsoft got it right by adding UHD support to all models of the One S. This failure makes it look like Sony is hurting financially again.

September 8, 2016 | 03:18 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Pro supports UHD TVs and content. It just does not have UHD Blu-ray built in. Unfortunately most people favor convenience of streaming over buying movies on physical media so it is rational decision on their part.

September 8, 2016 | 07:45 PM - Posted by Pc master jester (not verified)

I got an XB1 by default when a family member passed away.
I use it to play controller friendly games on my 4k Tv, reclined on my couch.

I am excited for the Neo (I'm gonna keep calling it the NEO) so i can play PS exclusives.
And ill play shooters on my 1070 + Ivy Bridge.

Dear Wife and Daughter,
Here is Daddies Christmas Present

September 9, 2016 | 10:32 AM - Posted by Shadowarez

i waited and waited now that i know PS4 Pro wont support 4K Blueray discs which is stupid xbone scorpio gets my money even if its $699 sony lost my sale at start and again with this stupid move, gj sony lost another sale.

September 10, 2016 | 03:36 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Please make yourself a favor and buy passively cooled UHD Blu-ray when they show up.

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