What Does The ‘Pro’ Mean In PS4 Pro? Not A Whole Lot

With the imminent release of the PlayStation 4 Pro, formerly the PlayStation 4 Neo, more details about the internals of the console have been revealed. While a lot is still unknown, including how the console will influence gaming quality, if Sony intends to pressure developers to create the “Pro Mode” for their games, and if this will shake up the console lifecycle we’ve known for generations now, information about what’s inside the PS4 Pro and what that could possibly mean for developers and consumers — and day one PS4 owners — has surfaced.

Sitting down with the Verge reporter Nick Statt, Sony’s PS4 lead architect, Mark Cerny, unveiled the new console.

The new PlayStation 4 is on display

More Power

According to Cerny, the PS4 Pro is 2.28 times faster than the standard PS4. (It’s assumed this number also applies to the PS4 Slim, as there is no hardware difference between the standard PS4 and the PS4 Slim.) Instead of installing a new GPU, the PS4 Pro has a “double-sized one,” Cerny said. The PS4 Pro, essentially, has two of the same GPUs installed, identical to the GPU found in the standard PS4. This, effectively, doubles the processing power of the system, outputting 4.2 teraflops of processing power instead of the 1.8 teraflops the standard PS4 does. (For comparison, Project Scorpio, Microsoft’s next Xbox slated for fall of 2017, is rumored to run 6 teraflops.)

Not All 4K Is Created Equal

This is a little confusing. It seems the device will achieve native 4K, but some results are only “extremely close to 4K” as Cerny said. Certain titles, like Guerrilla Games’ Horizon Zero Dawn and Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, will output at 2160p via a technique called checkerboarding. Put simply, checkerboarding changes the formation of the pixels to present higher-fidelity graphics in 1080p and upwards. Other titles, like Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs 2 and Square Enix’s Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, will render at 1800p — slightly below the 4K resolution; a little closer to 2K, if you want to call it that — using similar checkerboarding techniques. Furthermore, developers can patch existing games to run in upscaled 1080p if they so chose, creating a shrunken version of the 4K image.

The Divisive “PS4 Pro Exclusive”

As of right now, there are over 700 PS4 games. And it seems — to Cerny, at least — that PlayStation’s goal is to ensure all of those titles run smoothly, hence the identical GPU. However, when word first surfaced about Sony creating a new, more powerful PS4, speculation about exclusive content for this newer console ran rampant. Since the PS4 Pro has “the old GPU next to a mirror version of itself,” Sony can support existing games with a simple trick.

“We just turn off the second GPU.”

He goes on to say that “[we’re] putting a very high premium on not splitting the user base in that fashion.” With that, the PS4 Pro Exclusive is not a thing. Or is it? If developers decide to patch in greater resolutions and make use of the console’s second GPU, that is essentially creating an exclusive.

If You Have A PS4 Pro And PSVR Headset, Nothing Changes

PlayStation VR landed on October 13, and the PS4 Pro will follow just one month after. Many people have begun to speculate whether there is a connection between the new system and the new headset, but Cerny said that’s not the case. Actually, just because you have a PS4 Pro and the PSVR Headset doesn’t mean there are going to be immediate benefits to the VR headset’s processing power, graphical fidelity, or framerate consistency.

“We’re just asking for them to take advantage. We’d like for [developers] to take a look at what the hardware can do and do something with it.”

In other words, it’s up to the discretion of the developers, not Sony. If the developers want to take advantage of the processing power in the PS4 Pro, they can, but it doesn’t sound like they are at all obligated to do so.

Mark Cerny answers some other questions like why Sony left out the 4K Blu-ray drive — the technology they pioneered — why there won’t be a PS4 Pro Elite controller, the improbability of a 2TB console, and others. Head over to the Verge to read the entire discussion.

PlayStation Meeting 2016

PS4 Pro launches on November 10 and will cost $399.

[Featured Image by Jae C. Hong/AP Images]