The PlayStation 4 Pro was the first true mid-generation hardware refresh performed by Sony on its home consoles.
Codenamed Neo, the PS4 Pro was unveiled at a PlayStation Meeting in September 2016 and subsequently released in November 2016 for the same launch price of the PlayStation 4 ($399). Its main purpose was to deliver a 4K-like experience as UltraHD displays became more widespread among gamers; to do so, Sony equipped the PS4 Pro with a 4.2 teraflops GPU featuring hardware support for checkerboard rendering, a higher CPU clock, and 1GB of additional DDR3 memory.
The experiment largely succeeded, providing hardcore PlayStation gamers with the best option to play the platform's games. Many have been wondering if this would become a one-off situation, though.
In an interview with Game Informer as part of the 25th birthday of PlayStation, Masayasu Ito (Executive Vice President of Hardware Engineering and Operation at Sony Interactive Entertainment) might have just provided us with a hint. According to him, the PS4 Pro was basically a test case after Sony realized that the PlayStation 5 lifecycle would have to be different than that of previous generations.
Indeed, in the past, the cycle for a new platform was 7 to 10 years, but in view of the very rapid development and evolution of technology, it’s really a six to seven year platform cycle. Then we cannot fully catch up with the rapid development of the technology, therefore our thinking is that as far as a platform is concerned for the PS5, it’s a cycle of maybe six to seven years. But doing that, a platform lifecycle, we should be able to change the hardware itself and try to incorporate advancements in technology. That was the thinking behind it, and the test case of that thinking was the PS4 Pro that launched in the midway of the PS4 launch cycle.
If that was a test, given its success (though Sony doesn't specifically disclose how many PS4 Pro units were sold compared to the base PS4 console), it would stand to reason that we may see a 'PS5 Pro' at some point in the future.
For all the major PS5 news and rumors, check out our comprehensive article on Sony's next-generation console.