Sony reveals PlayStation 5 specs, details backward compatibility

PlayStation 5 lead system architect Mark Cerny gave a glimpse into what the new console’s architecture has to offer gamers today. In a pre-recorded speech titled “The Road to PS5,” Cerny discussed the goals for Sony’s next system. A key decision was to balance evolution and revolution. Evolution came in the form of adding backward…

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PlayStation 5 lead system architect Mark Cerny gave a glimpse into what the new console’s architecture has to offer gamers today.

In a pre-recorded speech titled “The Road to PS5,” Cerny discussed the goals for Sony’s next system. A key decision was to balance evolution and revolution. Evolution came in the form of adding backward compatibility and minimizing architecture differences between the PlayStation 4 and the PS5. Cerny believes that it will take developers less than a month to get up to speed, which is down from the one to two months it took on PS4. Meanwhile, revolution comes in the form of new features and higher efficiency hardware.

During his speech, which was originally meant to be given at this year’s Game Developers Conference, Cerny revealed that the number one request from developers was to include a solid-state drive. While it takes the PlayStation 4 hard drive 20 seconds to load a gigabyte of data, the PS5’s SSD can load 5.5GB in one second. The company’s goals for the SSD were to load games in a second, feature zero load screens, de-duplicate game data, and get rid of long patch installs.

Cerny also revealed some PS5 specifications and confirmed that the system will feature 16GB of GDDR6 RAM, which is the same as what the Xbox Series X packs. It will also have 36 compute units capped at 2.23GHz, which means the PS5 will have 10.3 teraflops of processing power. The system will support external HDD for playing last-gen games, but those looking to store and play more PS5 titles will need to purchase an M2 SSD, although it’ll announce which specific drives are supported at a later date. This is in contrast to Microsoft, who will be selling a proprietary 1TB expansion card for its console.

The system architect also wanted to clear the air on the PS5’s graphics processing unit. Cerny reaffirmed that the system will use a custom RDNA 2-based AMD GPU and that Sony collaborated with the company on its development. “If you see a similar discrete GPU available as a PC card at roughly the same time we release our console, that means our collaboration with AMD succeeded in producing technology useful in both worlds,” Cerny explains. “It doesn’t mean that we at Sony simply incorporated the PC part.”

PlayStation 5 lead system architect Mark Cerny
PlayStation 5 lead system architect Mark Cerny

Cerny also explained how Sony achieved backward compatibility on the upcoming system. Rather than including the last system’s chipset like Sony did with launch PlayStation 3 systems, it included the previous system’s logic in the system. The PS5 will have both a PS4 Pro and PS4 legacy mode and can run titles with boosted performance. “We recently took a look at the top 100 PlayStation 4 titles as ranked by playtime and we’re expecting almost all of them to be playable at launch on PlayStation 5,” Cerny notes while saying that games need to be tested.

Sony on Wednesday revealed new details about the upcoming PlayStation 5. The next-gen video game console is set for a holiday 2020 release, and Sony reportedly says that schedule won’t be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic

In a nearly hour-long presentation, Sony detailed the PS5’s architecture. Powering Sony’s new system are a CPU and GPU both made by AMD, along with an 852GB SSD. 

The PS5 will also have these specs:

  • 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz
  • 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (custom-made by AMD) 
  • 16GB GDDR6/256-bit
  • Custom 825GB SSD

Before the start of the presentation, Eurogamer reported the official specs of the console.

Now playing: Sony details specs for PS5, including SSD, backward compatibility 5:09

Microsoft revealed the specs for its Xbox Series X on Monday. The two new consoles will have similar hardware, including the AMD-made CPUs and GPUs and the solid-state drives.

Sony began streaming its PS5 reveal at 9 a.m. PT. System lead architect Mark Cerny started the presentation by explaining the three principles behind the hardware design of the PS5: listening to developers, balancing evolution and revolution, and finding new dreams. 

He then began talking about the time it takes for developers to make full use of a new console’s power, which he called “dead time.” He showed the previous PlayStation consoles varying on this time period, with the PS2 taking three to six months while the PS3 was six to 12 months. For the PS4 it was one month, and he says the PS5 will be less than that. 

As for listening to developers, Cerny said that the SSD was the No. 1 request from game developers and that it’s a “game-changer.” He showed how the PS4 hard drive could load 50-100MB per second, while the target for the PS5’s SSD drive is 5GB per second. The result is the PS5 loading 2GB of data in 0.27 second, compared with 20 seconds for the PS4. The result is that the SSD could stream game assets to the game, rather than the system relying on the various strategies by developers to load only parts of the game at a time or reusing certain graphics over and over again. 

The new SSD will make a big difference in the PS5.Sony

The PS5 SSD will also help when it comes to RAM. With the PS4, some of the game data would be stored in RAM in lieu of grabbing it from the hard drive in order to access it more quickly. In the PS5, the SSD is almost as fast as RAM, so developers can simply retrieve game data from the SSD, freeing up more RAM. 

There will be a bay in the PS5 for an additional SSD for those who need more storage, but the drives need to be capable of a speed similar to what’s already available in the console. He says there will be a compatibility list provided by Sony, but it will come sometime after the PS5 launch. 

Cerny then talked about the PS5 console’s custom chips and how they’ll provide backward compatibility with the PS4. AMD worked on incorporating the previous console’s logic and features into the customer PS5’s processors. Cerny said they tested the top 100 PS4 titles on the PS5 and almost all will be playable on the PS5 at launch. 

When it came to the GPU and CPU, Cerny said that the company was developed new strategies that resulted in a capped 2.23GHz graphics process that can produce 10.3 teraflops while the processor is capped at 3.5GHz. Not every game will make use of the full power, but they will be close. The system’s processors will also help reduce the amount of power the console will use in order to stay cool and quiet.

PS5 power
Could the PS5 be much quieter than the jet engine in the PS4?Sony

The presentation’s final focus was the PS5’s audio. The Tempest Engine hardware and enables 3D audio, starting with headphones, which will be the “gold standard” for the console. For those using TV speakers or soundbars, the PS5 will create a virtual surround sound, but it’s still being tweaked.  

This video was originally planned as a session at the Game Developers Conference, according to the PlayStation Japanese Twitter account. Conference organizers canceled GDC, which was originally set to start Monday, due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

The first PS5 details came out in October with teasers about the system’s hardware and controller. In February, Sony created the console’s website, although no new info has been added since it went up.

Author: Seek editor