There have been quite a few questions about if Sony plans to release a PS5 Pro or equivalent more powerful console iteration sometime midway through the PS5 life cycle. A new patent could possibly hint at a “high-end” more powerful PS5 being planned, but the truth is likely a lot more complex than simply another PS5 Pro as this setup also involves scalability for PlayStation Now and cloud gaming.
The patent’s title is “SCALABLE GAME CONSOLE CPU/GPU DESIGN FOR HOME CONSOLE AND CLOUD GAMING” and which does seem to indicate the idea behind the patent is about more than just scaling up PS Now. The abstract (summary) reads “In a multi-GPU simulation environment, frame buffer management may be implemented by multiple GPUs rendering respective frames of video, or by rendering respective portions of each frame of video. One of the GPUs controls HDMI frame output by virtue of receiving frame information from the other GPU(s) and reading out complete frames through a physically connected HDMI output port. Or, the outputs of the GPUs can be multiplexed together.”
So that’s a lot of tech speak. Where are people extracting this idea about a “PS5 Pro” console then?
One paragraph of the patent says “As understood herein. SoC technology can be applied to video simulation consoles such as game consoles, and in particular a single SoC may be provided for a ‘light’ version of the console while plural SoCs may be used to provide a ‘high-end’ version of the console with greater processing and storage capability than the ‘light’ version. The ‘high end’ system can also contain more memory such as random-access memory (RAM) and other features and may also be used for a cloud-optimized version using the same game console chip with more performance.”
It’s here that people latched onto talk of a “light” and “high-end” version of a console, starting to immediately toss around speculation that it means PS5 Pro. And while that’s not inherently wrong, it misses the forest for the trees. The biggest idea presented behind this patent is the scalability of the GPU, with “plural SoCs (system on a chip)” affording the ability to make what is being referred to as a “high-end” version of a console with “greater processing and storage capability.” What the patent is talking about isn’t neccesarily a whole new console, but the ability to scale up an existing system with another GPU rather than a single whole new one.
Referring to cloud gaming, this allows for easy expansion and scalability of the systems running games on PS Now for cloud gaming. But there’s potential for the home console as well. Sony could offer a “Pro” upgrade to your existing PS5, allowing you to get Pro-like enhancements without needing to purchase a whole PS5 Pro proper. We could end up buying “Pro upgrade kits” of some kind.
It’s important to keep in mind that patents aren’t exact blueprints or plans. They are simply safeguards for ideas companies are exploring. We’ve seen countless Sony patents that haven’t come to fruition or perhaps have different implementation than what was implied from the patent text. This patent doesn’t mean a PS5 Pro is coming. It doesn’t even mean a Pro-style upgrade is coming. It simply means that Sony is working with the idea of stacking GPUs for processes to expand the capabilities of a base GPU. If and how that will be implemented remains to be seen. Right now, Sony’s PS5 launch plans only account for a digital and disc version of the same console, with no other internal differences between the two. Reports have also indicated that the PS5 life cycle will only be five years, which may conflict with the idea of releasing a mid-gen upgrade.
You can read through the whole patent text yourself on FreePatentsOnline to try to make sense of the technical terminology and suss out of Sony really is planning on a PS5 Pro or not.