The PlayStation 5 was supposed to have a reveal event at GDC this year, however, due to the coronavirus issue, it was cancelled and postponed. Now, with the thanks of online streaming, Sony has been able to still organise that reveal… Except it turned out not to be not so much a reveal as much as an update on their current hardware situation.
There was no word on pricing details, or even a reveal of what the design for the new PlayStation would look like. But here’s a rundown of the most important stuff that they talked about.
First of all, let’s get the cat out of the bag, the PS5 is supposedly equivalent to 10.3 Teraflops, that’s nearly 2 TFLOPS less than the Xbox Series X. However, Mark Cerny, the Lead System Architect of PlayStation 5, and the person presenting the reveal today, exclaimed that Teraflops are not a good representation of the performance; as the overall capabilities take into account various other factors.
He then went on to compare that 36 CU’s running at 1GHz results in the same answer as 48 CU’s running at 0.75GHz, which is 4.6 Teraflops. So he made the point that GPU frequency is more important than the teraflops number.
The PS5’s GPU will utilise AMD’s custom RDNA2 technology, for this their main goals were to: reduce power consumption, to optimise GPU performance, and to add a new, more advanced feature set. These GPU’s contain 36 CU’s, however, since each CU is much larger and more powerful than before, that is roughly equivalent to 58 PS4 CU’s. Not only that, but the PS5 will continually run the CPU and GPU in boost mode to maximise performance.
Of course, the PS5 will support ray tracing. But developers are not necessarily encouraged to use it, but just to have peace of mind that if they do want to use it, the compatibility is there already.
But Cerny did say that a key focus when designing the PlayStation 5 was to be in continuous contact with developers and what they wanted in terms of hardware for the PS5. And apparently, the number 1 feature they asked for was an SSD.
So the PlayStation 5 will include 825GB of 5.5GB/s SSD storage. With options to increase that amount with both HDD and SSD external drives, though the SSD’s will need to be capable of 5.5GB/s in order to play the licensed PS5 games. They have developed a custom flash controller for the SSD with Twelve Interface Channels. It currently has 100x faster I/O than the PlayStation 4. This new SSD will bring ultra fast boot speed, and ensure no loading times/screens. It also means that users will no longer have to also install a patch right after downloading it, and instead just have to download it the first time.
The goal of using a faster SSD was not necessarily just to decrease loading times though, but to also give more creative freedom to developers. Remember long elevator rides that were obviously hiding the game’s loading times? Or squeezing through small gaps in the wall for a brief period of time like in Star Wars: Jedi - Fallen Order? A faster SSD will apparently completely eliminate this issue for developers, giving them more freedom to create the kind of experience they want without grinding the game to a halt.
The PlayStation 5 will also support backwards compatibility for all models. Currently, Sony are expecting most of the top 100 PS4 games (as judged by playtime) to be playable at launch on the PS5. AMD was very adamant that backwards compatibility should be a key feature for the new PlayStation console.
3D Audio was also a big focus, as Cerny went into great detail about how audio files are stored and retrieved, as well as the entire process it takes for audio to be present in the game and reacting to the player. Headphones are the biggest focus for 3D Audio (by having the largest impact in terms of quality). However, for owners who use just the standard TV Speakers or Stereo speakers, Sony is developing Virtual Surround Sound technology in order to fake the feeling of a surround sound setup.
It seems that Sony wanted to make sure that most owners of the PlayStation 5 will have the same experience as each other, rather than compromising on certain features so that some players had worse or better versions than each other. All in all, it looks like the PS5 is looking to be more of a generalised experience, rather than a powerhouse of performance. The added focus on audio is definitely interesting, but we’ll see how most consumers react to the reduced TFLOPS performance number.
There was a lot to talk about from the ‘Road to PS5’ livestream event held by Sony PlayStation, but that covers most of the biggest talking points. Before I sign off though, here’s a quick breakdown of the PS5’s Hardware:
36 Compute Units (equivalent to 58 PS4 CU’s)
62% larger transistor count than ps4
Will continually run cpu and gpu in boost mode
825GB of 5.5GB/s SSD storage
Virtual Surround Sound
‘Baked in’ Backwards Compatibility
What do you think of the PlayStation 5 so far? Are the specs impressive? Or were they a bit underwhelming for you? How do you think it compares to the Xbox Series X? And what do you think the price will be? Let us know!