After a long wait, we finally got to hear some information on the PlayStation 5 last night. As for seeing the actual console? Ha, dream on. Presented by lead system architect Mark Cerny and delivered in a voice smooth enough to melt butter in the Arctic, Sony’s delivery last night was a massive information dump that punched pure numbers into your grey matter with fists of knowledge.
In case you missed it, here’s a breakdown on the important parts of Cerny’s speech detailing the road to PS5.
The PS5 has more than double the GPU power of the PS4 Pro
Power! Unlimited power! With a GPU of 10.28 teraflops, the PS5 outclasses the PS4 and its 4.2 teraflop record by a good margin. Cerny said that the PS5 has 36 CUs on the GPU, capped at 2.23GHz and capable of running at a variable frequency that allows the console to adjust its software offerings on the fly. As a reminder, here’s the official PS5 spec list:
- CPU: 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz (variable frequency)
- GPU: 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency)
- GPU Architecture: Custom RDNA 2
- Memory/Interface: 16GB GDDR6/256-bit
- Memory Bandwidth: 448GB/s
- Internal Storage: Custom 825GB SSD
- IO Throughput: 5.5GB/s (Raw), Typical 8 – 9GB/s (Compressed)
- Expandable Storage: NVMe SSD Slot
- Optical Drive: 4K UHD Blu-ray Driv
The Xbox Series X is technically more powerful than the PS5, but only barely
When the current generation of gaming kicked off, Sony had a distinct advantage with their base level PS4 when compared to a console that was infamously known as the Xbone. This time though? After unelashing the Xbox One X, Microsoft has worked on a machine that is an absolute behemoth in the hardware department, one with all the bells and whistles for a generation of gaming that will last for years.
Sony’s official specs also point towards a more powerful console, but if we’re talking raw power then they’re totally outlcassed by Xbox. That being said, it’s not how hard you can punch bot how you can deliver a haymaker in the visual department. Sony may be in second place in terms of CPU, GPU and SSD stats, but it’s a damn close second at that and a gap that could be closed by how the PlayStation 5 combines its multiple technologies to deliver a smooth fusion of ideas and reality.
It’s going to be a quiet console
Remember playing God of War and wondering why your PS4 was being used as a spare terminal for Heathrow airport? With high-level games having high power requirements, excess heat was always an issue on the PS4 and one that resulted in the console spinning its fans at maximum speed so that it could keep the system stable. The PS5 has had a solid look at its power consumption, with Sony promising more efficient power and variable frequency technology that will result in a more constant and quiet machine.
Next-gen SSD technology
Cerny claims development studios should be able to optimise legacy PS4 games and start work on PS5 titles within a month thanks to the custom SSD inside. The storage solution that Sony has come up with lightning-quick, able to transmit information at an astonishing 5GB/s. Compared to the PS4’s hard drive running at around 50-100MB/s, that’s a titanic leap forward that’ll have a huge impact on the gaming industry.
Say goodbye to long loading screens
We’ve already seen the Xbox Series X load a game of State of Decay 2 in around ten seconds, and Sony is also looking to transform the loading screen of many a game into an artifact of the older generation of console gaming. Cerny says that the PS5 will be able to load an entire 2GB of data within 0.27 seconds, an improvement of around a hundredfold compared to the PS4.
Will there still be loading screens? Absolutely. Will they be shorter than my father’s temper when he gets too into a game of Liverpool against Manchester United when the ref shows bias against the reds? Double yes, dad please it’s just a game. What this also means, is that developers will now be able to design games in a way that takes advantage of these new speeds, creating bigger, bolder and more luxurious arenas within which to play.
External hard drives
With just under 900GB of space to make use of, the PS5 will have enough storage space to house multiple games and unleash them at a dizzying pace. What if you want to play some PS4 games or you find yourself running out of space though? You’ll still be able to hook an external hard drive up to the PS5 as a back-up, with third-party devices being supported. According to Cerny, there is a catch though:
Drives can take full advantage of the decompression, IO co-processors, and all the other features of the PS5 I was talking about. Here’s the catch though: that commercial drive has to be at least as fast as ours. Games that rely on the speed of our SSD need to work flawlessly with any M2 drive.
What that means, is that you definitely should not be running out to buy a cheap SSD right now, as Sony will still have the final say on what will work on their console. Cerny also recommended that PS4 games be kept on an external drive in case you want to transfer your library over, with SSD space being earmarked for PS5 games that will make better use of the hardware overall. “You can leave your games on the hard drive and play them directly from there, saving the pricier SSD storage for your PS5 titles,” Cerny said.
Or you can copy the PS4 titles directly to the SSD. If your purpose in adding more storage is to play PS5 titles, though, ideally you will add to your SSD storage.
More freedom within games
Over the last decade, games have had to make cunning use of their assets to disguise loading screens. Some of these were blatantly obvious, like Thief’s use of tight corridors that you’d scooch through in agonisingly slow fashion to reach a new area or multiple games using elevator rides to hide new assets flowing in. Others were more clever, like Batman: Arkham Asylum utilising chat scenes with Oracle to prepare the rest of the madhouse for some bat-punching.
With its custom SSD, developers now no longer have to worry about players running ahead of the game, and provided that they’re up to the task, they could create games with better pacing and direction that no longer needs to cover up these cracks.
How many games will be backwards compatible?
Almost one hundred currently. Sony’s going to have a library of its most played games available on launch, with more to come. The problem here is the PS5 hardware but not in the way that you think. The dilemma is that the PS5 is so damn quick with its performance boost that many a PS4 game cannot keep up. That means that Sony has to evaluate games on a case by case basis, with the PS5 hardware switching to a legacy PS4 mode that slows the console down and allows older games to catch up.
The PS5 will have game betas
Basically demos, yes. While there’s no word what Sony’s various studios are officially working on (although I’d imagine a few remasters are on the production line), players will be able to grab a taste of things to come with game betas towards the end of the year.
Audio is where the future of immersion lies
I’m not going to lie to you, a lot of what Cerny said about PS5 audio went so over my head that it achieved escape velocity and is now on its way to Mars. That being said, the information that I could understand has me excited for what’s to come, as the PS5 is focusing on new three-dimensional audio technology that Sony has custom-designed to feel more immersive than ever before.
Called Tempest 3D Audio Tech, this new system uses the AMD GPU to create sound which is more precise and will support a hundred different sources. It’s impressive stuff to talk about it, and when the PS5 launches, it’ll be even more amazing to hear in action I reckon.
Last Updated: March 19, 2020