I´ve been reading the post about PS5 release date. And that made me think about the future of PS.
Let asume, as most analysts and people guess, that PS5 would be released 2020 or 2021. With a 7nm fabrication process, and enough power for 4k 30fps gaming.
4k TVs will have a much larger installed base. Usually 50% is quoted by 2020.
Now, in this gen of console wars, hardware is about teraflops and graphic resolution (Im not talking about soft, exclusives, policies, etc, just hardware)
Every one can see that graphic quality gets better in every gen , but the jump gets smaller and smaller.
Let say you want to draw a ball. from a square ball to an octogon, 4 sides to 8 sides, there is a really big difference. from 8 to 16, you can still see a big difference. Now from 16 to 32... you are still doubling the graphic output, but 16 sides looked pretty round and while 32 is better, is not a big jump from what you had before.
now, lets see how console graphic resolution had increase over time.
let start with PS2. We used to play it on a TV with 640 x 480p resolution. That was = 0,3 megapixels per frame.
Now PS3. HD TVs arrived and Most games were played at 1280 x 720p. That was = 0.92 megapixels per frame. 3 times more graphic power output.
on PS4 most games run at 1080p. 1920 x 1080p. That is 2,07 megapixels per frame. So its 2 times more graphic power output, but we have to consider also much better quality lighting and textures too. (Im not considering ps4 pro, but its arround 2 times PS4 and 2k real resolution, 4k checkboard)
PS5 needs to be 3840 x 2160. A 4k native console. So If we want it to handle the same games with the same shading and lighting as ps4, no improvement, just 4k native resolution for the same game. it needs 8,3 megapixels per frame.
If we consider that PS4 is close to 2 teraflops for 2 megapixels per frame, then we would need a at least a 8 teraflop machine for 8 megapixels.
And we can have that by 2019-2020. Xbox one X is 6 Tf and just lauched.
Now remember that as I explained with the square to the 16 sides ball, the jump in resolution awesomeness was less from ps3 to ps4 than it was from ps2 to ps3 and it will be less from ps4 to ps5 and even less if they lauch a PS6.
Let say that the next jump is a 8k TV (some are starting to be on sale). 8K TVs will be selling well in 5 years and 4k will be mainstream by then.
What would a console need to handle in order to mantain the SAME QUALITY in graphics but with 8k resolution?
It would need 33 megapixels per frame!!!
thats 4 times 4k. Or a machine capable of close to 33 teraflops!!!.
Now, you can say, they can still reducing process fabrication of transistors and get there but:
PS3 cell processor was fabricated on a 90 nm process. That means each transistor was 90 nm in size.
PS4 Pro APU was fabricated on a 16 nm process and most likely PS5 will be fabricated with 7nm transistors.
1 nm is the size of 10 Hidrogen atoms. So we are talking sizes of 70 atoms for a transistor. They don´t have much room left for miniaturization.
Its getting more time and its harder to make smaller transistor fabrication processes. And because of Quantum Mecanic laws, the performance gains they are getting are also smaller. So it will take a really long time to get to let say 3 nm and really really expensive. If the way of making processors doesn´t change, there is going to be a wall soon.
Now there are some other factors that will affect change. People get confortable at a certain degree of quality. It´s what I called the mp3 effect.
CDs sound better than mp3, but mp3 is good enough and more convinient. I guess a lot of people will still buy 4K tvs, but at a slower pace than when they bought Full HD TVs. 8K tvs will have an even slower pace. Also lots of people will believe that 4k is just enough for them.
Even Nintendo said that getting into HD was way more expensive than developing for SD.
4K AAA are even more expensive. Developers are facing a problem with it. So they sell DLC , implement microtransactions, etc. How much would developement cost increase for 8k?
I hate streamed gaming. Latency is an issue, you ought to have an awesome internet conection,and what you get is compressed video with less quality than native gaming. It will come right, but it ´ll take a while. Not every country is US or European. Not every city in US or Europe has great bandwith, so I guess there will be a PS6. Gaming as a service will become a standar but not yet. Maybe after PS6.
VR needs 90 fps or more to be playable. On PS4 pro you have full HD shitty graphics VR gaming. So its half the resolution of the console (2k aprox). With a 4k native console you would be able to play VR on 2k. With a 8K console, you would play shitty VR in 4k. (I say shitty because VR games have less quality than not VR caused by the framerate needed, example Driveclub)
PS5 will be a 4k native capable console.
FOR A PS6 TO HAVE A REASON TO EXIST , it should be a 8k console. Even at 8k we´ll have diminishing returns in graphics.
8k would need 4 times more graphic power than 4k , 33 Teraflops and for that it would need a fabrication process that will take a really long time, years, to be ready. Also the console needs to have that graphic power mantaining size, watt output and weight.
People won´t be jumping for 8k TVs, some will find it not necesary. It will take also more time to be mainstream.
Game developement will take more time and money.
Such console would cost a lot. People dont want to pay more than 500 USS for consoles and not more than 60 USS for games.
Even with all of the above, some people just won´t care for more resolution anymore.
PS5 will launch and it would take a really long time for it to be replaced. The lifecicle of the console will be the longest of any PS. I think at least 9 years with a lifecicle of 16 years. Of course there can be upgrades, like with the PS4 pro for better scalling to 8k, like a PS5 pro 8k checkboarding or VR 2 stuff.
Of course I can be wrong, but for that companies need to change the way they make CPUs and GPUs to get better performance faster or there has to be a VR fever so high that millons of people pay more for beast consoles and companies fight for 4k on each eye at 90 fps. Not there yet.
There also can be a new console with the same resolution, but would it make sense? If the console is powerfull enough to have real global illumination, raytracing or something game changing like that in order to have a reason to exist, then it would be capable of hitting 8k with todays graphics anyway. If not, it wouldn´t make any sense.