Virtual reality takes a lot of processing power. Even with the technology we have today, we still cannot replicate with perfect accuracy the world in which we live in. The hardware existent today can still do some fantastic things, but it generally takes a high end computer hardware to run a virtual setup good enough to bring users an immersive experience that is ‘close enough’ to feeling like real life. Because of this, people were relatively confused when leaks started circulating stating that Sony would be making their own virtual reality headset. Where would all that processing power come from? To truly compete with current head mounted displays, the company’s device would have to drive a high frame rate at a decent resolution, and the current generation of console hardware just did not have the capabilities to push that kind of power at launch.
Because of this fact, is has been all but confirmed that Sony is planning on announcing the release of the PS4 Neo, spec’d with newer pixel-pinching hardware that would help the console to deliver a much more positive experience to it’s users. According to an anonymous CTO of a gaming company, the new version of Sony’s hardware was a make or break decision. To try and release the PSVR on the console’s current set of hardware would cause a simply terrible user experience.
PSVR was going to be terrible on a [launch] PS4. It was going to be truly awful. Something a bit more powerful starts to bring VR into range. If you want to deal with crazy requirements for performance in VR, you absolutely have to [introduce new hardware].
Fortunately for developers, Sony is allegedly producing the new updated PS4 console very soon, and is also unlocking more usable cores in its current hardware to help developers run titles. Both of these facts are great news for developers looking to develop for Sony’s new console platform, as it will allow them to produce much more compelling games at greater resolutions. A new console platform will give developers a lot more head room when launching titles as well.
But as someone who does the technology for video games, somebody doubling my GPU and adding 30% CPU is brilliant. I’d love that every two years. I’d love it every six months, if possible. All I want is the most powerful hardware that I can get my hands on.
The PS4 Neo’s specifications haven’t been officially announced, but the projected components are as follows:
8 jaguar cores at 2.1 GHz, an improved AMD GCN, 36 CUs at 911 MHz, 8 GB of GDDR5 memory, and 4K image output
All in all, we can take solace in the fact that Sony is releasing new hardware for the headset, instead of launching a terrible experience for users. For those with existing PS4 hardware, the good news here is that the wording of the CTO says “was going to be terrible”, but improvents like co-processors and other gear within the headset are expected to make the experience at least passable — though the upcoming NEO will be the gold standard for VRing on the PlayStation.
Are you planning on purchasing a PSVR? Will you keep your current PS4, or are you willing to make the upgrade to the Neo?