Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are all going to be releasing new console hardware by the end of 2017. This means that we will be reading a LOT about technical specifications for game consoles for the next 18 months.
The next pieces of hardware from Microsoft and Sony (the Xbox Scorpio and PlayStation 4 Pro respectively) are, essentially, upgrades to their existing consoles. They will still work the same and play (for the most part) the same games. The difference is going to come in their ability to produce higher fidelity graphics than their predecessors.
We are going to see a lot of cheerful videos and carefully worded press releases that are going to be chock full of technical terms that might be confusing to a layman.
We want you to be able to make educated decisions about the games your children play. And, with that in mind, we felt that it would be a good idea to publish a glossary of technology terms that might sound like gibberish to parents who aren’t super tech savvy.
Take a look below and be sure to let us know in the comments if there is something we missed!
This is, for all intents and purposes, just a fancy term used for the monitor and TV that the console will be hooked up to. This is where you will see the images that are being created by the console in order to play games, watch shows, etc.
A lot of the descriptions for new consoles and PCs will include information about a “GPU.” This is an acronym that stands for the “Graphics Processing Unit.” That is the name for a special kind of circuit that is responsible for creating images that will be output to the TV or Monitor.
TV shows, movies, and video games are all presented to us as rapidly changing streams of still pictures. As technology has improved we have been able to display more images, commonly referred to as “frames” per second. This has helped move away from the jerky and borderline unnatural movement found in silent movies to the fast and fluid movements we see in modern television.
The number of frames per second that a piece of tech displays is often reported in “hertz” or “htz.” For example, a 60 htz television is able to display 60 frames per second. In general, this means that the animation will be smoother and more natural.
The “Resolution” of a display is a numerical representation of how many individual pixels that a display can show.
As Sony and Microsoft launch their next wave of updated consoles, the push is to support “4k resolution.” This is shorthand, but it represents a resolution of 3840 pixels x 2160 lines.
In general, the more pixels that can be displayed within a given area the more clear the image is and the better it can be animated. Most of us likely experienced that sort of change when we watched HD television for the first time. We were able to see fine details like the numbers on players’ jerseys more easily.
This is important for video games especially because the display AND the console both matter. Playing a Super Nintendo game on a modern HD television won’t make it look like modern video games. It is still limited by the hardware.
HDR stands for High-dynamic-range Imaging. This is a term used in photography that represents a greater dynamic ranging of color than is normally possible. In other words, the colors that are displayed by the media are more true to real life than previously displayed. This means brighter whites and darker blacks as well as more clear colors in between.
This is a feature that will be made available as part of the Xbox One S and will be available on all PS4 models. But, it is not something that everyone will be able to take advantage of. This is a feature that needs a cutting edge TV in order to work.
Project Scorpio by Microsoft is the upgraded version of the Xbox One that will release next year. Microsoft has described it as having “6 teraflops.”
A teraflop is a unit of measure for the power of a console or other computing device. This is an acronym that represents the number of calculations that a machine can process in one second. The breakdown of the acronym is as follows:
“Tera” means Trillion
“FLOP” stands for “Floating-Point Operations per Second”
For example, a processor that is measured as having “6 Teraflops” is capable of solving 6 trillion math problems in one second. To put it simply: The more calculations a processor can make the better the graphics it will be able to output.
Internal vs External Memory
Video game consoles are, essentially, specialized computers. Everyone knows what a hard drive is, because the computers we use at work, at home, and at school all have them. Video game consoles are no different.
The Xbox One and PS4 both launched initially with 500 GB (Gigabyte) internal hard drives. While this might seem like enough it fills up quickly if anyone in the household purchases games digitally. The newer versions of these consoles will include hard drives of up to 2 TB (Terabytes) of internal storage space.
For sake of illustration 1 Terabyte is the data equivalent of an 8 foot stack of CDS. That SEEMS like a lot of room, but some games can be HUGE.
There are external hard drives that will work with the different consoles though. So if your console is full, then you should look into them!