Will PS4 and Xbox One Get 4K Support in 2015? Maybe not

by on February 4, 2015

Stephan Jukic – February 04, 2015

While the 4K push moves forward across the board with numerous consumer electronics like cameras, TVs, PCs and even mobile devices, it seems like everyone is jumping on the bandwagon.

This might also include the new gaming platforms Play Station 4 and Xbox One from Microsoft, but we’re not sure yet.

While both gaming systems are already technically capable of dealing out 4K video resolution in their games, the question of feasibility is still big considering that both platforms sometimes struggle even with giving users Full HD resolution at 1080p on more action packed games. Given this, 4K seems a bit less than feasible in the short term.

Netflix, for one, still thinks that gamers are going to be seeing hardware overhauls for both the PS4 and the Xbox One in 2015 but the real decision is going to be with Sony and Microsoft, based on whether they’re willing to take the risk of burning some of their earlier customers in favor of a more awesome ultra HD gaming experience being reinforced into their platforms.

Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt, has already publically stated that Sony had promised the streaming content provider a PS4 hardware revision which would include 4K support, this was claimed in January. However, after Forbes magazine followed up with Hunt recently, the overall story was still less than concrete, even though the Netflix Chief Product Officer still maintains that both Xbox One and PS4 will soon see 4K-capable hardware refreshes aimed at improving ultra HD video playback.

The gaming and video playback experience of the PS4 and Xbox One will dramatically improve with full 4K support specs

The gaming and video playback experience of the PS4 and Xbox One will dramatically improve with full 4K support specs

According to what we know so far, the console makers could potentially revamp their systems by upgrading to HDMI 2.0, including an HEVC decoder and implementing full HDCP 2.2 support for making UHD content playable.

These three are the crucial features that any 4K playback device must have if it’s going to effectively and flexibly handle UHD media from a variety of online and broadcast sources.

There is also the possibility that  Sony and Microsoft could implement the above changes, at least in part, by working with a 4K-loving chipmaker like AMD to build functional software-based HEVC decoders that use either the CPU or GPU units which are already inside the two gaming consoles. In other words, a full hardware overhaul might not even be needed for developing full 4K support given the consoles’ existing physical capabilities.

This route to more 4K for the two devices would certainly be easier on existing owners of the consoles.

As far as the HDMI 2.0 goes, it would have to be done via an actual hardware overhaul for new consoles. However, HDMI 2.0 is only needed for moving 4K content through the system at 60 frames per second. However, most games and video content still flow at 30 frames and for this, the existing HDMI 1.4 configuration in the PS4 and Xbox One is already prepped. Nonetheless, without HDMI 2.0, the gaming consoles would be ready for 4K content but without future-proofing, given that more and more 4K video will better viewed at 60 frames per second.

Thus, while we’re definitely going to see a 4K-ready redesign of the Play Station 4 and Xbox One sooner or later, whether a full-blown overhaul for total 4K support will come in 2015 remains up in the air.

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