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 Korsakoff

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It seems mad to suggest that Sony is on the brink of announcing a new console only three
years after the launch of the PlayStation 4, but that’s exactly what it looks like
the Japanese tech giant is doing.

Okay, so ‘new console’ might be a bit of a stretch - we’re not talking about a next-gen
machine here - but if the multitude of rumours and whispers are true, the upcoming
PlayStation 4K will offer more than just a slimmer build and a prettier face.

Here’s everything we know so far:

BIRTH OF A RUMOUR


In March, gaming site Kotaku confirmed the existence of the PlayStation 4K, along with
outlining its updated hardware. This information has since been backed up and verified by
the likes of Digital Foundry and The Wall Street Journal, so we’re not dealing with the usual
spat of shaky rumours and dodgy sources that so often plague the world of smartphone
news.

Developers reportedly had backroom talks with Sony regarding the newer console during
the Games Developers Conference earlier this year, so on a scale of one to ‘this is actually
happening’, we’re leaning towards the latter end of the scale.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?


One thing’s for sure - we’re not talking about the PlayStation 5 here. The driving force
behind Sony’s new console is 4K, and despite apparently being called Neo internally, the
general consensus is that it’ll be called the PlayStation 4K - a console with upgraded specs
that’s compatible with existing PS4 games.

It’s worth mentioning that the PS4.5 moniker has been flung around too, but we think that’s
too ugly and rather unlikely to be the final name. Still, we also said the same thing about the
iPhone SE, and look how that turned out.

HEAVY LIFTING


Right, let’s get to it. The real meat on the PS4K’s bones is its extra power, which is needed to
serve up smooth 4K experiences.

It’s very likely that Sony will be sticking with AMD for the console’s internals, and we expect
to see an improved version of the company’s APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) make an
appearance, which is good news.

Don’t let all the acronyms put you off - APU is the name given to the hybrid CPU/GPU unit,
which packs in both the computational and graphical power to make sure everything runs
smoothly, while looking pretty.

Currently, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 use 28nm microprocessors, but as you’re well
aware, the tech world moves fast. We’re already seeing superior 14nm processors in
smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S7, and it’s very likely that Sony will utilises AMD’s
newer 14nm silicon in the PS4K.

Without getting lost in numbers and jargon, the benefits to moving to 14nm transistors are
actually rather simple to explain.

The smaller the transistors, the more you can cram into any given space, giving you access to
more power in a smaller unit. Not only that, but reducing their size also increases the power
efficiency while decreasing heat too. It’s a triple-win situation.

SLOW DOWN THERE SPORT


Before you start fantasising about blowing up aliens in glorious 4K 60fps however, it’s worth
emphasising that it’s extremely unlikely that we’ll be seeing any games running at those
specs.

It’s simply not possible to cram the power of a gaming PC into a console form factor, not to
mention the high costs associated with attempting such an undertaking.

The ‘4K’ in PS4k will therefore more than likely be aimed at video smarts - namely a built-in
4K Blu-ray player, and support for the likes of 4K streaming services like Netflix and Amazon
Prime Video.

That also means that HDMI 2.0 is also on the cards, as is HDR support, but that’s not to say
that games won’t see any improvements at all.

NEW GAME


Sony is apparently making sure that the 40 million or so existing PS4 owners won’t be crying
out in outrage once the PS4K is eventually released.

There will reportedly be no PS4K-exclusive titles, and each and every single title - new and
old - will work on both consoles. So put down your pitchforks.

We should, however, expect to see some improvements in games running on the PS4K.
Additional visual effects and textures are a given, as are increased draw distances and higher
levels of anti-aliasing. You know, all the good stuff.

While native 4K resolution is a big ask, we should at least get a resolution bump above
standard 1080p, along with hopefully 60fps minimum across the board, while existing and
older PS4 games running more smoothly.

And then, of course, we have PlayStation VR - Sony’s answer to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive,
which works with existing PS4 consoles. The additional power of the PS4K is likely to offer a
more pleasant experience though, and we imagine smoother frame rates and a more
immersive experience are likely to be on offer. The PlayStation VR’s additional breakout box
might also be unnecessary, if it’s built directly into the PlayStation 4K itself.

This is all speculation at this stage of course, but none of this is outside the realms of
possibility. In fact, as far as tech rumours go, all of these proposals are positively sensible.

SLIM PICKINGS

Another option is a less powerful ‘slim’ variant of the existing PlayStation 4, packing in the
same innards, but shrunk down using the 14nm manufacturing process.

This chip could then be overclocked with minimal heat or efficiency concerns, while being
powerful enough to handle 4K video and HDR.

Games would be unlikely to reach anything higher than 1080p due to the less dramatic
increase in processing power using this method, but there’s still potential for HDR support
and faster frame rates.

BLIND DATE


Given that the PS4K doesn't even officially exist, it’ll come as no surprise that no one has any
idea what it looks like.

There have been no leaks as of yet, so we’re going to make an educated guess and state that
it’ll be carved from a solid piece of marble, in the shape of a pentagram. Or maybe it’ll just be
a smaller, thinner version of the PS4. Watch this space.

PRICE AND RELEASE DATE


The pricing of the PlayStation 4K depends entirely on just how much new tech Sony
is cramming into it. If it’s opting for increased, faster RAM, along with an all-new processing
unit, then we could be looking at original PS4 launch price numbers around £350.

If instead Sony is going down the PS4 Slim route though, then we could see something closer
to the £300 mark.

As for a release date? Well, The Wall Street Journal reckons that Sony will announce the
PlayStation 4K before the release of the PlayStation VR in October, which makes sense,
given the connection between the two. The actual sheld date however, remains a mystery.
Christmas or early 2017 would be our guess.

We expect more details to be revealed before then though, so keep an eye out for more
news, and we’ll update this preview accordingly.



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