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Once Microsoft announced a 1TB version of the Xbox One, it was only a matter of time before Sony would do the same. Now, both console manufacturers are planning to move to the higher storage tier, though Sony has yet to announce pricing for the new model. If it goes by previous trends, the 1TB model will debut at or near the same price as the existing 500GB hardware, which will likely take a price cut to clear inventory.
Sony is billing this new version of the console as the “Ultimate Player Edition,” and is rolling it out in “select Europe and PAL territories” initially, which means no word on when the console will hit the United States. Given that such rollouts typically occur worldwide, however, we can expect a US launch in the not-too-distant future to maintain parity between the two platforms.
Whether the new edition will contain other goodies is still unclear. Ultimate Player Edition implies an upgrade slightly larger than a larger HDD, but the plans Sony filed with the FCC show a comparatively small upgrade — 8% reduced maximum power consumption and a slightly smaller chassis, along with additional storage, but nothing more substantive. It’s still not clear if 20nm versions of either console will materialize. We initially expected die shrinks for both the Xbox One and PS4, but the shifting strategies around 20nm and the process nodes unsuitability for large, high-power products may have put the kibosh on plans for a 20nm version of the hardware. With TSMC pushing hard for 16nm and GlobalFoundries adopting Samsung’s technology for 14nm, it’s entirely possible that the work done on 20nm planar was rolled into a 14/16nm version with a later roll-out date.
The 1TB drives MS and Sony are offering aren’t likely to sway a lot of fence-sitters, but the size of modern games make such storage capacities necessary. It’s not uncommon for modern titles to require 40-50GB of drive space when fully installed, which can leave a 500GB drive feeling a bit cramped once you account for the HDD space you lose in conversion. No word yet if the new drive is faster than the older model, but the advantages of upgrading, even to an SSD, have been fairly modest in comparison to the stock drive. Repeated tests have shown that boot times and saved game loads can be meaningfully accelerated (Bloodborne on the PS4 loaded saved games in 29 seconds as compared to 45s or more for the stock drive). Over time, that can add up, especially in games that do a lot of in-game loads, but the difference isn’t huge.
These relatively minor upgrades feel like the point updates MS and Sony are making in lieu of larger, more comprehensive overhauls. 14/16nm hardware refreshes, assuming they are in the works, could debut by Christmas of this year, or could slip into the first half of 2016 depending on yields and costs.
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