The current console generation was marked by the release of mid-gen consoles that offered 4K support and increased power over the base models. This is unlikely to happen for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles, according to former Xbox Executive Albert Penello.
Speaking on the ResetEra forums, Penello explained why mid-gen PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series refreshes are unlikely to happen. The PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X were more of a necessity due to 4K displays becoming rapidly more mainstream, as the base models were designed driving 1080p output. As 8K displays are unlikely to become more mainstream in 3 or so years, there may simply be no need for a mid-gen refresh this time around.
It may simply be less necessary as well. 4K was becoming a mainstream resolution for PC and TV’s, and the the base consoles were designed around driving 1080p (or less) output. 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.
In a following post, Albert Penello also highlighted how a 20, 24 teraflop machine is not going to be affordable in a console form factor even in 3 years, making a PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X mid-gen refresh even more unlikely.
I don’t see a 20 / 24 tflop machine being affordable in a console form factor even in 3 years. 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.
With both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X having yet to be released, talking of mid-gen refreshes definitely seems premature, but Albert Penello’s statements make a lot of sense. Technology, however, is always evolving, and plans are constantly shifting so who knows what the future of consoles holds. Only time will tell.