Last minute panic.
The PS4 NEO was always planned to be an incremental spec bump, a sort of New 3DS upgrade to Sony’s newest console, but when Microsoft announced the Scorpio at E3 this year, the game changed- the Scorpio was so powerful that it threatened to completely eclipse the NEO, not to mention the existing PS4 and Xbox One, and essentially kickstart a new generation (in fact, if the Xbox One and Scorpio weren’t intercompatible, one could make a very compelling argument that the Scorpio was Microsoft’s next generation system).
But now Sony risks being left behind- which is not something they probably appreciate, especially since they have made it a point to always have the most powerful system on the market at launch. Which is why it’s not surprising that rumors like these are arising- apparently, Giant Bomb’s Patrick and Austin recently were discussing in a podcast Sony looking at increasing the NEO’s specs ahead of its launch.
They both noted that Sony are worried about the Scorpio making the NEO outdated when it launches next year, and that they are looking at increasing the system’s power as a result. What is currently unknown is just how much of a spec bump can be managed, given the NEO’s rapidly approaching launch, but it sounds as though Sony are looking to share the final devkits with developers and publishers on September 7, which is allegedly when the system will be formally announced as well.
Of course, there are multiple things to consider here- the likelihood of Sony actually managing a spec bump without completely derailing the work they have done on the system so far is especially low. Especially since devkits have apparently been in the hands of developers for months, and the system itself is rapidly approaching launch. I can certainly buy Sony being worried about the Scorpio, and feeling that they lowballed the NEO internally- but I also don’t think there is enough time left to do anything about it.
Then too, one must consider that as long as Sony are using the Jaguar CPU, it doesn’t matter how much they increase their memory pools or clock speeds- Jaguar will continue to be the bottleneck in the PS4 NEO’s design regardless, and ensure that it’s not much more powerful than the exiting PS4 effectively.
Then again, as unlikely as it sounds, we should be able to take Giant Bomb at their word- they were the ones who first leaked news on the NEO, after all. No reason to suspect they would be faltering now. But with all that said, I must admit, even if Sony are considering raising the specs of the NEO, I don’t think they’ll actually be able to do much. It’s too late in the game for them to do that now.