“Personally, I don’t think of the Pro as an upgrade, I think of it as the “Virtual Reality edition” of the PS4.”
Much has been said and written about the PS4 Pro ad the upcoming Xbox Scorpio- these systems, by being mid generation iterative upgrades of existing consoles, have broken the traditional generational format for console releases, and a lot of uncertainty still abounds about how things will play out with both of them.
Eric Risser, the CTO of Artomatix, has weighed in with his own opinion of these two consoles, and what they ultimately amount to. According to him, it is the rise of VR that has led to the need for having this kind of a mid cycle console refresh, and VR that these consoles are ultimately built for.
“When gaming on a monitor, your console only needs to render one picture at a time. When gaming in VR though, your console needs to render two pictures at the same time, one for each eye. This is essentially the big computational cost of switching to VR, you need double the GPU. The only difference between the PS4 and PS4-Pro is a GPU with double the cores,” Risser said. “Personally, I don’t think of the Pro as an upgrade, I think of it as the “Virtual Reality edition” of the PS4. While the Scorpio specs aren’t released yet, I suspect they’ll follow the same trend as the PS4… they’ll at least double the compute cores so you can play Xbox in VR.”
Risser thinks that these consoles have been primarily made as a response to VR. “The reality is that everyone was caught off-guard by the Oculus Rift Kickstarter campaign kicking-off the rise of VR,” he said. “Now Microsoft and Sony are in an awkward position. If they were to support VR with the original console they brought to market, players would see a big drop in graphics and probably migrate over to PC or worse, allow a gap in the market for a new direct competitor to emerge. In a perfect world VR would coincide with the end of a console cycle and they could just design the next generation for VR from the ground up. Unfortunately, at a mere 3 years old, neither console is ready for retirement yet. I think offering a mid-term “VR edition” is a sensible compromise. Of course, there’s going to be a lot of marketing hype over TFLOPs and introducing the “most powerful console ever”, because that’s what marketing people do. Personally, I’m not taking the hype too seriously. “
This in fact echoes a sentiment that Michael Pachter had expressed last year, too- and certainly, VR seems to run far better on the PS4 Pro than it does on a standard PS4 system. But hey, as long as this extra power can also benefit normal, non VR games, I don’t think anyone will mind too much.