We now know a little more about how it’ll work, thanks to Sony’s chief PlayStation architect Mark Cerny, who spoke to The Verge about exactly what the PS4 Pro can and can’t do.
Cerny noted that the PS4 Pro doesn’t represent a new generation of consoles; it’s intended to help developers working on PlayStation games deliver more impactful and immersive experiences by taking advantage of new hardware introduced three years after the original PS4 launched.
To that end, the PS4 Pro packs a second identical GPU in addition to the main one, allowing the console to produce 4.2 teraflops as compared to the original PS4’s 1.8 teraflops. It also has the same eight CPU cores, albeit clocked at a higher speed and paired with higher bandwidth 8GB GDDR5 RAM, along with an extra 1GB of conventional DRAM for multitasking.
This additional firepower allows the PS4 Pro to achieve native 4K or come really close to that, depending on how developers make use of it.
Games like Horizon Zero Dawn and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare will use what’s called checkerboard rendering to pull off 2160p resolution, while others like Watch Dogs 2 and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will max out at 1800p.
The PS4 Pro will also be fully compatible with older games designed for the original PS4 without the need for extensive patching. To make that happen, all the console needs to do is turn off the second GPU.
It’s worth noting that the PS4 Pro omits a 4K Blu-Ray disc player (unlike the Xbox One S) – but it can stream 4K video content. Cerny believes that’s the future of video consumption, but didn’t elaborate on how the lack of a Blu-Ray player helps the product.
Although it’s launching earlier, the PS4 Pro will face competition from Microsoft’s Project Scorpio, which promises true 4K games and high-fidelity VR experiences thanks to 6 teraflops of power. It’s slated to arrive sometime during 2017’s holiday season and will certainly make the console wars a bit more interesting to follow.
While both new consoles are all about higher resolutions, it remains to be seen how they’re priced and what kinds of games are made available for them. Plus, Microsoft recently announced its Xbox Anywhere program that allows games to be purchased and played on its Xbox console as well as PCs, and if that extends to the Scorpio, it could give the company a leg up over Sony.