With Sony and Microsoft competing to dominate the next era of gaming as we know it, here’s an in-depth look at the full specs of the PS5.
Source: PS5: everything we know about the next-gen console
As the famous arms race between Sony and Microsoft reaches another climax, both companies have selectively unveiled their next big leap in different ways. While we haven’t seen verified models of the PS5 as of yet, an in-depth analysis of the console has been revealed.
It’s been a mysterious journey, but here’s everything we know so far about the next generation of Sony console: welcome to the PS5.
PS5 reveal recap
While the console is set to release later this year rumours and information have continued to whir around the internet at a rapidly increasing rate for the past few months.
The PS5 was set for a major reveal on June 4 with Sony Interactive Entertainment chief Jim Ryan stating: “This digital showcase will run for a bit more than an hour and, for the first time, we will all be together virtually experiencing the excitement together.”
If you read between the lines, that spells gameplay. This kind of reveal is fraught with danger, as Microsoft found out, incurring the wrath of gamers in their Xbox Series X gameplay reveal (seriously, just check out the comments). In light of the recent events surrounding the death of George Floyd, however, Sony decided to pull the pin on this reveal until further notice.
This (officially) only leaves us with the address on March 18. Mark Cerny, a leading systems architect at Sony, hosted a seminar during which he unveiled the ‘Road to PS5’. A somewhat unsatisfying 50-minute talk that went into immense detail about the console without revealing any virtual models or game engine footage.
While it’s hardly as exhilarating as the Xbox Series X reveal, it nonetheless revealed a massive amount of detail about the hardware of the console.
Primary Console Components:
- CPU: 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz
- GPU: 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz, RDNA 2 architecture
- RAM: 16GB GDDR6
- Storage: Custom 825GB SSD
- Expandable storage: NVMe SSD slot
- Optical drive: 4K Blu-ray drive
If this doesn’t mean anything to you, let me explain.
Cerny basically boiled the lecture down to three main categories of the new console. Its Solid-State Drive (SSD), backwards compatibility, and 3D audio capabilities. Let’s dive into what these three developments actually mean for gamers.
The PS5 will be able to produce marginally better graphics than its predecessor. Though the topic that’s up for debate is the load times. In the live stream, Cerny said that the PS4s internal hard drive can optimally load 1GB of data every 7 seconds. However, once you take seek times into consideration among other things this can often reach 20-30 seconds, resulting in longer load screens.
According to Cerny, the solution is to implement the power of SSDs, which are now quite common and able to load 5.5GB a second. Cerny then envisages a world where developers will have to artificially increase wait times for respawns, fast travel and loading screens to prevent the game from moving too fast for the player.
As for the hard-drive, the PS5 will launch with 825GB of space. Although options to replace the SSD for third-party models are possible, they will not be available at launch.
The speed of said SSD is crucial to how well the PS5 will run at launch and, ultimately, how powerful the game’s graphics are. As of yet, the most powerful SSDs on the market can only transfer data at a rate of 3GB per second. Though Cerny believes this will be at 7GB per second by the year’s end.
Another touchstone of Cerny’s lecture was the concept of balancing ‘evolution and revolution’. In layman’s terms, this means balancing backwards compatibility with modern features and higher efficiency.
The PS5 will feature a custom Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) called the RDNA2 AMD GPU. To summarise, the PS5’s control unit (CU) will be 62% larger than the Ps4’s. This will ultimately mean it can route more processes more efficiently due to a larger amount of transistors present.
The GPU will also be able to support the resource-intensive activity known as ray tracing and primitive shaders. This will largely prevent overheating and loud fan noise.
As for backwards compatibility, the PS5 will be able to run almost every PS4 game from launch via regularised software algorithms. So don’t go selling old games if you’re looking to purchase a PS5, they may run even better now!
One of the most thrilling and technically explicit aspects of the new PlayStation console is the introduction of 3D audio. During the interview, Cerny explained that a game screen refreshes between 60 and 120 times per second, while audio calculations occur roughly 200 times per second. Therefore, audio is an extremely crucial part of game development and one that has been somewhat overlooked in console development.
PC headsets have featured 3D for a while now. However, the PS5 aims to deliver 3D audio on every platform: TV speakers, headset, and soundbar.
To explain, 3D audio relies on Head-Related Transfer Function (HTRF). This technology maps an individual’s hearing based a sound’s direction, frequency and volume.
If mapped out correctly in accordance with each person’s individual ear shape, HTRF will allow the user to hear as though it were happening all around them, rather than from a speaker. Pretty mind-blowing if you ask me.
The new DualSense controller is markedly similar in design to the Dualshock 4. It will feature a new microphone as well as haptic feedback for a more immersive rumble.
In demonstrations, Sony revealed how the controller could make the player feel the difference between tarmac and dirt in a racing game. Or splashing through the mud as opposed to sliding on ice in a platformer.
Here’s how Sony Interactive Entertainment’s Senior Vice President of Platform, Planning and Management, Hideaki Nishino summed up the DualSense:
“After thoughtful consideration, we decided to keep much of what gamers love about the DualShock 4 intact, while also adding new functionality and refining the design.”
Refinement rather than revolution is the name of the game here. The DualShock 4 is an institution in its own right, so Sony didn’t stray too far from its classic design with the new DualSense.
As of yet, no official design schematics have been revealed, however, a few sources have been leaked. Over at Gizmodo, folks were sent images of a supposed PS5 dev kit. The design is reportedly identical to the patent images that have been shared for months. While dev kits are notorious for being nothing like the final product in shape, this is the best indication we have for the final model.
Even the rumoured look of the PS5 has had an evolution of its own, with the form factor at the in the image at the top of the article doing the rounds extensively.
The PlayStation 5 is slated to launch in late 2020. Despite the disruptions to manufacturing, distribution and gaming showcases caused by COVID-19, the company is still committed to a holiday release. Microsoft may have taken the lead in terms of releasing information, but it seems more than unlikely that Sony would just let their American rivals dominate the crucial holiday period.
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Nat Stringer is a music, audio, and gaming enthusiast from Australia.