Thinking of skipping the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X for their mid-gen refreshes? Don’t bother, because there may not be one this time around. Writing on the ResetEra forums, Xbox executive Albert Penello pointed out that the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X were primarily created in response to the surging popularity of 4K displays, but with mainstream adoption of 8K being many years away, the likelihood for a PlayStation 5 Pro or Xbox Series X-2 could be slim to none.
“4K was becoming a mainstream resolution for PC and TV’s, and the the base consoles were designed around driving 1080p (or less) output,” explained Penello. “When you have a set that requires 4x the performance just to drive 4x the pixels, then you eat up all the performance just driving resolution. I think it’s unlikely we’ll see 8K TV’s go mainstream in the same way we saw 4K go mainstream – we’re more likely to see improvements in NITS (to drive better HDR) or better framerates to support greater than 60fps on TV’s. CPU’s and GPU’s in the next-gen should easily support higher frame rates and wider colors.”
“So the mid-gen upgrades are not only less financially and technically viable, but also likely less necessary to keep up with display technologies.”
Penello goes on to explain how a hypothetical next-generation refresh would be impractically expensive due to the slowdown of Moore’s Law, and how the PS5 and Xbox Series X are already packed with some incredible, cutting-edge hardware.
“I don’t see a 20 / 24 tflop machine being affordable in a console form factor even in 3 years,” he notes. “The node change from 7nm to 5nm or 3 nm is going to be cost prohibitive and just mathematically unless they hit 3nm you’re only going to see a 30% reduction in size but you’re doubling the tflops so the chip has to grow.”
“Additionally, you can’t really double the GPU without growing CPU and Memory or you run in to other bottlenecks which further adds cost.”
“There may be other silicon advancements I”m not privy to, but it’s pretty widely known this is a real challenge right now. So looking through todays lens, I think it’s unlikely you’re going to see a mid-gen console this cycle.”
On the other hand, the idea of a mid-gen refresh seems like a natural and inevitable business decision for ensuring brand momentum and securing the user base. When the PS4 Pro was announced, Andrew House did reportedly mention that the system was created to keep PlayStation gamers from migrating to PC.