Digital Foundry Article Technical Discussion [2022]

DF Article @ https://www.eurogamer.net/digitalfo...pro-or-xbox-enhanced-consoles-this-generation

Do we actually need PS5 Pro or Xbox enhanced consoles this generation?​

And is it economically viable for Sony or Microsoft to actually make them?

PlayStation 4 launched in November 2013 and just three years later, Sony followed it up with the release of both PlayStation 4 Pro and PlayStation VR - so what are the chances of history repeating itself for the latest console generation? We know that a new virtual reality headset is in offing, but what about a PS5 Pro, or indeed an Xbox Series equivalent? Rumours of enhanced consoles have been floating around for a while now, while a recent press event from TV manufacturer TCL suggests that 'gen 9.5' consoles will launch in 2023/2024 - so what's the likelihood of that actually happening?

...

So, this hits dead on with speculation I was making last year WRT slim or cost reduced versions of the current gen. consoles likely not happening this generation.

In fact, in the current climate, inflation makes the consoles more expensive to make. Meanwhile, chip manufacturer TSMC is hiking prices on silicon wafers and demanding premiums from some of their biggest clients. It's a far cry from the cost reductions we've seen in the past.

Basically, I'll be surprised if we see a cost reduced mid-gen. console based on ongoing trends unless one or both console makers decides to take a huge loss per console sold. In fact, the situation is now significantly worse than when I originally made my speculation about the cost of manufacturing, packaging, and shipping of current generation consoles going up for the next few years instead of going down as it had in previous console generations. We can all thank Russia, at least partially, for that. :p

It does make me wonder if this might be part of the impetus pushing Sony to want to release most if not all of their titles on PC. That way they can either increase the likelihood that if someone does buy a PS5 that they'll buy more titles on the PS5 than just the exclusives or reduce the number of consoles they have to make. Basically, don't sell PS5 consoles to buyers who don't generate much if any profit for them on console and instead generate revenue from them on PC where Sony doesn't have the bear the cost of a console just to sell their exclusive titles to PC gamers. This is especially key if they are potentially approaching (or forecasting) loss generation or are already generating a loss on each console sold now (versus at launch where they weren't), but making it back if X number of titles sell on PS5.

Regards,
SB
 
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One-S hampered One-X.

Eh? That's like saying PS4 hampered PS4-Pro. :p

I mean let's conveniently ignore the fact that almost all titles that generation were able to be run on worse hardware on PC. Granted at lower settings, but that's kind of the whole point of scalability.

The base XBO also did something that the XBS-S doesn't do. It is architecturally different (requires explicit use of ESRAM to get good performance) from the XBO-X.

Basically while you can scale something down to the XBS-S relatively easily you couldn't scale something down to the base XBO as easily due to the need to code for the ESRAM.

Regards,
SB
 

arandomguy

Regular
For me to ditch my PS5 and get a Pro model it would have to depend on how much of improvement it would offer in regard to RT performance, I would need to see a 3x improvement on RDNA3 vs DNA2 to justify changing to a Pro model.

Let's say developers eventually do relent and end up only targeting 30 fps sans RT (or low RT) with base consoles. Pro consoles then offer 60 fps + higher RT. Is that enticing to at least some buyers?

Regarding the economics mentioned I'd say it might need to considered from the other angle. Rather then having cost reductions enabling Pro consoles, pro consoles instead become essentially upmarket luxury items with higher margins.

I've been saying this with the PC space as well (with respect to widening price levels), gaming demographics have changed as in greatly widened in scope. There are likely a substantial amount of buyers willing (which is different than wanting) to pay more for something better even at a diminishing return rate. Even with all the complaints of PC hardware costs, the actual hardware component pricing for high end gaming is actually very cheap compared to a lot of other common hobby and forms of entertainment.
 

DSoup

Series Soup
Legend
Subscriber
Yeah. You should see what the guys around me at work spend on drones every month. LOL
That statement makes a lot more sense if I think of you as working for the airforce. Or the CIA.

How the heck does you average person spend a lot of money on drones every month? I guess if you're a really bad operator... :runaway:
 

Reynaldo

Regular
Newcomer
Let's say developers eventually do relent and end up only targeting 30 fps sans RT (or low RT) with base consoles. Pro consoles then offer 60 fps + higher RT. Is that enticing to at least some buyers?

Regarding the economics mentioned I'd say it might need to considered from the other angle. Rather then having cost reductions enabling Pro consoles, pro consoles instead become essentially upmarket luxury items with higher margins.

I've been saying this with the PC space as well (with respect to widening price levels), gaming demographics have changed as in greatly widened in scope. There are likely a substantial amount of buyers willing (which is different than wanting) to pay more for something better even at a diminishing return rate. Even with all the complaints of PC hardware costs, the actual hardware component pricing for high end gaming is actually very cheap compared to a lot of other common hobby and forms of entertainment.
You're expecting WAY too much for a mid-gen refresh. 2x performance + higher RT settings? That's crazy.
 
That statement makes a lot more sense if I think of you as working for the airforce. Or the CIA.

How the heck does you average person spend a lot of money on drones every month? I guess if you're a really bad operator... :runaway:
I spend like £100 on a single battery for mine.......forever upgrading and changing it out.

I got over 2 grand in my RC car and will drop £600 on an engine upgrade with ease.

/offtopic
 
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eastmen

Legend
Subscriber
You're expecting WAY too much for a mid-gen refresh. 2x performance + higher RT settings? That's crazy.

It depends on how they do it. Is it just more zen 2 + rdna 2 ? Or is it new tech. We already have zen 4 coming this year , we also have their 3d cache for zen which shows huge improvements in games over the non 3d cache versions of the chips. Zen 4 is also reaching what 5ghz now ? That is a big upgrade from the 3.4-3.6ghz zen 2 in current consoles. A refresh could even make use of zen 5 depending on the year it hits. Then you have RDNA 3 coming. Perhaps that is much better at ray tracing. Also on lower micron levels you could use infinity cache to increase bandwidth. If your targeting 4k then a 128megs could be good enough. So even with a small bandwidth increase with main ram you could have a lot more total system bandwidth. I guess the next major change would be ram. This gen with MS its 10/16 perhaps the mid gen refresh could be 16/20.

So I'd imagine the question would be , where is the bottle necks? If the major bottlenecks become raytracing during this generation then there could be much bigger gains than 2x depending on what AMD does in future RDNAs. I think a refresh would be more about offering a high end locked 4k 60fps experience and a dynamic res 120fps offering.

I of course think for Microsoft there wont be generations anymore , they seem quite adept at moving the platform forward across multiple types of hardware. So for them I don't think it maters. Just put out new hardware when they need too by taking the latest AMD stuff. I'm not sure how well Sony is able to do it but they could be just as capable now that they have their older library available.
 

PSman1700

Legend
It depends on how they do it. Is it just more zen 2 + rdna 2 ? Or is it new tech. We already have zen 4 coming this year , we also have their 3d cache for zen which shows huge improvements in games over the non 3d cache versions of the chips. Zen 4 is also reaching what 5ghz now ? That is a big upgrade from the 3.4-3.6ghz zen 2 in current consoles. A refresh could even make use of zen 5 depending on the year it hits. Then you have RDNA 3 coming. Perhaps that is much better at ray tracing. Also on lower micron levels you could use infinity cache to increase bandwidth. If your targeting 4k then a 128megs could be good enough. So even with a small bandwidth increase with main ram you could have a lot more total system bandwidth. I guess the next major change would be ram. This gen with MS its 10/16 perhaps the mid gen refresh could be 16/20.

So I'd imagine the question would be , where is the bottle necks? If the major bottlenecks become raytracing during this generation then there could be much bigger gains than 2x depending on what AMD does in future RDNAs. I think a refresh would be more about offering a high end locked 4k 60fps experience and a dynamic res 120fps offering.

I of course think for Microsoft there wont be generations anymore , they seem quite adept at moving the platform forward across multiple types of hardware. So for them I don't think it maters. Just put out new hardware when they need too by taking the latest AMD stuff. I'm not sure how well Sony is able to do it but they could be just as capable now that they have their older library available.

Their not really consoles anymore as in the classical sense, im not opposed to it, but some think that having a range of low to high(er) end hardware configurations means that games wont utilize the hardware as much as it could have with 'true consoles'. I think it would be a great thing if MS would release another box each year or so, with games scaling accordingly. They are basically pre-build pc's by then, which is nice i think. They might aswell have pre-configured pc's that are MS approved on different levels of HW/OS. That and the streaming 'stick' and the live/gamepass service, MS is covering the whole market before this generation ends probably.
They have been aquiring studios, great times ahead.
 

eastmen

Legend
Subscriber
Their not really consoles anymore as in the classical sense, im not opposed to it, but some think that having a range of low to high(er) end hardware configurations means that games wont utilize the hardware as much as it could have with 'true consoles'. I think it would be a great thing if MS would release another box each year or so, with games scaling accordingly. They are basically pre-build pc's by then, which is nice i think. They might aswell have pre-configured pc's that are MS approved on different levels of HW/OS. That and the streaming 'stick' and the live/gamepass service, MS is covering the whole market before this generation ends probably.
They have been aquiring studios, great times ahead.

I mean wouldn't that have been the case with the ps4 pro and xbox one x ?

I think every year or so may be too much for the industry. However I think every 4 years is smart. Phase out the series s and series x. If we break it down logically.

Xbox Series S
Zen 2 8/16 @ 3.4/3.6 ghz
RDNA 2 - 20Cus @ 1.5ghz
10 gigs of ram

I could see the replacement in 2024 (4 years after launch) being

Xbox series S 2
Zen 5 16/32 @ 5.5ghz with 3d cache
Rdna 3/4 - 52 Cus @ 2 ghz 64 megs of infinty cache
16 gigs of ram


Then you have

Xbox Series X
Zen 2 8/16 @ 3.6/3.8
RDNA 2 52 Cus @ 1.825ghz
16 gigs of ram

Go to Xbox Series X 2
Zen 5 16/32 @ 5.8ghz with 3d cache
Rdna 3/4 with 104 cu @ 2.5ghz with 128 gigs of infinty cache
20-24 gigs of ram

Not only do you get more cpu cores and more gpu cores along with higher clocks but you also get architectural changes . Hopefully much better RT performance and then stuff like PCIE-5. There is a lot that be done. Like I said it really is dependent on RDNA 3 and 4 and what performance looks like for them. Honestly I think a my described X2 would be able to run any of this generations games at 4k native which should be more than enough for a worth while upgrade.
 

PSman1700

Legend
Yea, that is IF there are coming any mid-gen refreshes again, DF doubts it (as per the topic). Though if anyone would then it's probably MS.
 

iroboto

Daft Funk
Legend
Subscriber
I mean wouldn't that have been the case with the ps4 pro and xbox one x ?

I think every year or so may be too much for the industry. However I think every 4 years is smart. Phase out the series s and series x. If we break it down logically.

Xbox Series S
Zen 2 8/16 @ 3.4/3.6 ghz
RDNA 2 - 20Cus @ 1.5ghz
10 gigs of ram

I could see the replacement in 2024 (4 years after launch) being

Xbox series S 2
Zen 5 16/32 @ 5.5ghz with 3d cache
Rdna 3/4 - 52 Cus @ 2 ghz 64 megs of infinty cache
16 gigs of ram


Then you have

Xbox Series X
Zen 2 8/16 @ 3.6/3.8
RDNA 2 52 Cus @ 1.825ghz
16 gigs of ram

Go to Xbox Series X 2
Zen 5 16/32 @ 5.8ghz with 3d cache
Rdna 3/4 with 104 cu @ 2.5ghz with 128 gigs of infinty cache
20-24 gigs of ram

Not only do you get more cpu cores and more gpu cores along with higher clocks but you also get architectural changes . Hopefully much better RT performance and then stuff like PCIE-5. There is a lot that be done. Like I said it really is dependent on RDNA 3 and 4 and what performance looks like for them. Honestly I think a my described X2 would be able to run any of this generations games at 4k native which should be more than enough for a worth while upgrade.
technically, don't you only need 1 more model?

The Series S drops off. Series X replaces the Series S, and the new model is slotted above?
If you make a brand new S and X, you are triggering a new generation.

Personally, none of this makes any sense. The prices have not come down enough for a pro model. The S and X are still holding their respective price brackets, things would need to come down heavily for a pro model to arrive at 499
 

PSman1700

Legend
technically, don't you only need 1 more model?

The Series S drops off. Series X replaces the Series S, and the new model is slotted above?
If you make a brand new S and X, you are triggering a new generation.

Personally, none of this makes any sense. The prices have not come down enough for a pro model. The S and X are still holding their respective price brackets, things would need to come down heavily for a pro model to arrive at 499

We have not seen any game really using the new hardware yet, and that doesnt seem to happen all that much before 2023/2024 either. Last time there was a '4k' to advertise with, coming from 1080p consoles. This time there aint none of that, 8k is fantasy for consoles and upscaling/reconstruction is much more a thing these days to get closer to 4k and/or 60fps. Machine learning and ray tracing is very much lacking for rdna2, but i doubt RDNA3 and beyond will up that all that much the coming few years. And if they would, these features are abit harder to adjust to lower spec than just a boost in raw rasterization. Atleast if games finally start being designed around RT (leaving current gen behind), if we want to see mid-gen hw being used to its fullest....
Not forgetting supply shortages and manufacturing, the performance per watt going up (which isnt that intresting for consoles), higher prices for the base consoles we have now and also not to forget that many still ever got any current consoles to begin with. Leaps are smaller too. MS basically has already tiered up their consoles from the start (XSS and XSX).
And while a zen 5 16 core/32T, 24gb of ram and a monster 104CU gpu @ 2.4ghz all sound nice, i dont think that would happen anyway even if a mid-gen would happen again.

I think MS is in a very good position with the XSS, gamepass/live service right now. They must've had a crystal all over there.
 

dobwal

Legend
The World Bank stated that we are possibly headed into stagflation similar to the 70s. A state of low economic growth and supply but high levels of inflation and unemployment. A recession followed shortly after.

Not a particularly good time for trying to release a new product. There is a chance that the Series and PS5 consoles will never see a permanent price drop this side of 2025.
 

eastmen

Legend
Subscriber
technically, don't you only need 1 more model?

The Series S drops off. Series X replaces the Series S, and the new model is slotted above?
If you make a brand new S and X, you are triggering a new generation.

Personally, none of this makes any sense. The prices have not come down enough for a pro model. The S and X are still holding their respective price brackets, things would need to come down heavily for a pro model to arrive at 499
I don't think so. Wouldn't it be smarter to replace the series s and x with SOC of similar transistor size as the series x but using newer architecture ? If the series x is 15B tranistors at 7nm and say the replacement is 3nm with 15B tranistors it should be cheaper to manufacture and if its all new tech you take advantage of the uplift in specs.

I don't think you have to worry about generations anymore. What's the difference for the end consumer if the games they buy on the xbox series work on the replacement consoles just by loading them up ? From MS's side of it whats the difference if it runs on series s or the series s replacement console ? going from a zen 2+ rdna 2 to a zen 5+ rdna 3 or something isn't a big deal. You just get a lesser experience with a cheaper or older hardware until its no longer supported. When you get to a point where your console be it a series s or series x doesn't play games at the resolution or feature set you want , you go out and buy a new console and choose between the $300 and $500 model

I just seriously think your going to continue to see the pc side pull away at faster and faster rates. More worrisome looking at RT performance its really going to start to show as more and more games take advantage of it and rdna 2 gives way to rdna 3 and even rdna 4 in the pc side and the 3080 gives way to the 4080 and then the 5080 on the pc side.


We have not seen any game really using the new hardware yet, and that doesnt seem to happen all that much before 2023/2024 either. Last time there was a '4k' to advertise with, coming from 1080p consoles. This time there aint none of that, 8k is fantasy for consoles and upscaling/reconstruction is much more a thing these days to get closer to 4k and/or 60fps. Machine learning and ray tracing is very much lacking for rdna2, but i doubt RDNA3 and beyond will up that all that much the coming few years. And if they would, these features are abit harder to adjust to lower spec than just a boost in raw rasterization. Atleast if games finally start being designed around RT (leaving current gen behind), if we want to see mid-gen hw being used to its fullest....
Not forgetting supply shortages and manufacturing, the performance per watt going up (which isnt that intresting for consoles), higher prices for the base consoles we have now and also not to forget that many still ever got any current consoles to begin with. Leaps are smaller too. MS basically has already tiered up their consoles from the start (XSS and XSX).
And while a zen 5 16 core/32T, 24gb of ram and a monster 104CU gpu @ 2.4ghz all sound nice, i dont think that would happen anyway even if a mid-gen would happen again.

I think MS is in a very good position with the XSS, gamepass/live service right now. They must've had a crystal all over there.

I think there are new threats to the console space. I know a lot of people who were happy grabbing a series s to replace their base ps4 or xbox one. Even more were happy with the woot prices of the series s. Its a fine console at sub $300 prices. But now people are asking me about steam deck and other portable pc systems and even building gaming pcs as sites like digital foundry and the like become more popular.

I also think that games will be moving more and more to raytracing and other features. The matrix demo runs pretty poorly on even the high end machines and its not even a full fledged game. We are just going to run into more and more of this. These systems weren't even monsters when they first came out. I also don't think what I described in my post is really a monster either. Not by 2024 standards. It will most likely be out classed later this year on the pc side already.
 
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