After giving the floor to Microsoft for months, Sony finally took the spotlight today to reveal the PlayStation 5 specs. It was probably the drabbest presentation I have sat through since 2nd-year psycholinguistics. But, really, that is not Sony’s fault.
This was absolutely for the GDC audience, which was cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. It’s fair to say that this was not the first impression Sony wanted to give the public. However, the deep dive into the specifications was interesting and gave us an unusually comprehensive breakdown of how their new console operates.
Let’s take a look at the PS5!
As expected, the PS5 provides a bump in specifications reflecting a true generational leap. The primary bottleneck in the PS4 was the CPU, limiting performance in most games to 30FPS.
PS5 will boast an 8-core 16-thread 3.5GHz AMD Zen 2 CPU. This is a massive increase over the existing 8x 1.6GHz Jaguar CPU of the PS4. Likewise, the PS5 GPU sees an absolutely incredible increase in specs over current gen hardware.
Using a customised version of AMD’s RDNA 2 chipsets, the PS5 will boast a 2.3GHz (variable)10.28 TFLOP, 36CU GPU. This represents a massive increase over the PS4’s 800MHz. 1.8TFLOP, 18CU GPU. Due to the density of transistors the PS5 GPU, this actually represents a 60% increase in CU.
|CPU||8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz (variable frequency)|
|GPU||10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency)|
|Storage||Proprietary 825GB Custom SSD|
|IO Throughput||5.5GB/s (Raw), 8-9GB/s Compressed|
|Expandable Storage||NVME SSD Slot|
|External Storage||USB HDD|
|Optical Drive||4K UDH Blu-Ray Drive|
We haven’t seen the PS5 in action yet, but this will be a massive leap. While these specs are lower than the Xbox Series X, we don’t yet know how it will match up performance-wise.
Much like Xbox Series X, the PS5 has hardware accelerated ray tracing. This is achieved through their Intersection engine, which uses the same tech that we will see in AMD’s next-gen GPU’s. This will facilitate the same tracing implementations that have been present in the PC space since Nvidia launched their RTX series GPU.
Solid State Drive
After listening to developers throughout the current generation, Sony acquiesced and designed the PS5 around the solid-state drive. This SSD is fast!
To put this into perspective, developers have needed to find ways of distracting us while the game loads. Think Spider-Man subway scenes, or even the innovative God of War life tree scenes.
The SSD is proprietary, and while the 825GB size may seem small, or somewhat random, it is the optimal size to pair with their interface. The SSD controller utilises PCI-e 4.0, eliminating any potential bandwidth bottlenecks. I should note that no component in the PC space has, as yet, been bottlenecked by 3.0.
To combat the ever-increasing storage demands of games’ incredible texture sizes, Sony has implemented an expansion socket that allow M.2 expansions. You will be able to buy M.2 NVME drives from anywhere, so long as they fit the expansion socket, and store games on them.
This is great. NVME drives are considerably faster than anything found in current gen consoles. However, they are markedly slower than the PS5 proprietary SSD.
Admitting that audio has been somewhat neglected since the PS3, Cerny stated that there would be an effective auditory revolution coming with the PS5.
It aims to achieve this, by emulating locality. That is, instead of there being a singular sound for rain, such as those found in current games, it intends to replicate the sensation of being present in weather by producing a sound for each droplet of rain.
Sony has the goal of revolutionising audio in gaming. As such, the full potential of this – much like the graphical potential of a console – will emerge as developers become more familiar with the system. It will be a while before this is used
It’s fair to day that this presentation was for developers and tech enthusiasts. It was to be presented at the cancelled GDC conference. At the first impression of the console, I think this could actually be close to Microsoft’s Xbox One announcement, in terms of immediate brand damage.
The PS5 is, on paper, a weaker console than the Series X. Rather than counter this with a demonstration of how the system combats this potentially huge performance differential, they monotonously presented the PS5 specs.
However, this is an exciting console. Specifically, the revolutionary SSD and sound modules. Likewise, these are technologies in their infancy, which will evolve and grow as the generation ages. This is particularly exciting, and will absolutely result in innovation and immersion that we currently can’t imagine. I’m very excited to see Sony’s demonstrations of these in the upcoming months.
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