PlayStation held a deep dive discussion by Mark Cerny around the architecture of the PlayStation 5’s hardware. This was very technically detailed and mainly serves as a substitute for the GDC talk that was cancelled due to the concerns around Coronavirus.
In my personal opinion there aren’t a ton of new headline details revealed in this talk that weren’t already revealed in the Wired articles that came before this. There were a ton of really detail oriented “Deep Dives” into the CPU, GPU, and the HD Audio which is great but I don’t think this should’ve been the first reveal discussion around PlayStation 5 as many are starving for information and those that aren’t tech-savvy likely came away from this having no idea what any of that meant.
I will start off with Sony’s full spec sheet for the PlayStation 5.
- 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5 GHz CPU
- 10.28 TFLOPs, 36CUs at 2.23GHz GPU
- 825GB Custom SSD for Internal Storage
- 16GB GDDR6 RAM
So let’s get into it. Cerny kicked things off coming out and presenting in a sort of lecture format. He stated that one of the most important efforts in the development of the PS5 was listening to developers and ensuring that the learning period for getting up to speed with the hardware and how to use it at it’s full capability was as short as possible. He said that the PlayStation 5 will have the quickest learning period at less than a month for developers to familiarize themselves with the hardware.
He then went into the number one upgrade requested by developers and that was the SSD. Sony has used a custom built solid state drive that will upgrade the PS4’s 50 -100MB/s to a whopping 5 – 5.5GB/s. He broke down the load times in a slide stating that the load time on PS4 were 1GB in 20 seconds while PS5 will be able to achieve 2GB in 0.27 seconds. That is quite impressive in my opinion. I also appreciate the comparisons to the current-gen hardware.
Cerny listed the core goals around the SSD on the PlayStation 5. The next-gen console will be able to boot the game in a second, no load screens, freedom in game design, and patch installs will go away. The last one is big for me as the last patch I installed took annoyingly long on my PS4 Pro.
The expansion of the hard drive for the PlayStation 5 was also discussed in detail. Cerny said that a large external hard drive is recommended for players wanting to play and store many of their PS4 games for backward compatibility to save storage space on the PS5 SSD. Support for expansion using m2 hard drives will be available but Mark Cerny mentioned that they need to be at least as fast as the PS5’s SSD at 5.5GB/s.
The GPU for the PS5 was also discussed in thorough detail. Apparently the aim for the GPU was to reduce power consumption, and optimize performance. I didn’t believe that Sony would mention the Teraflops because it has been rumored for a while that’s their number is less than that of Microsoft’s Series X. Cerny did mention though that the PS5 GPU will max out at 10.3 teraflops. There were thorough details around it’s performance that I won’t get into here, but luckily those that are interested can have a look at the presentation if the more technical stuff is appealing. Many look at this number as a bar or a set number to represent the overall graphical capabilities of the GPU, but it’s not that simple and Cerny detailed that in his discussion. Many of the things discussed regarding the GPU were interesting and a leap above and beyond that of the PS4 and PS4 Pro.
Cerny also heavily focused on 3D audio and how it revolutionizes the gaming experience on PS5. This is supposed to accomplish heavily improved audio for everyone, not just those with sound bars and high end headsets. The goal of the audio upgrade is to allow the player to feel like they are actually in the world of the game. Cerny went into detail about how each person hears differently and a test will be involved during the setup to cater to each individual. This doesn’t just seem like a gimmick but actually seems quite incredible if implemented properly by developers.
Backwards compatibility will be available for the PS4 but details weren’t really elaborated on and in fact it seems as though if backwards compatibility is available at launch it will only be available for PS4 unlike that of the Xbox which has long had compatibility all the way back to the original Xbox.
Overall this was a lot of information to take in regarding the PS5, but I don’t think it’s the information that most people wanted. In February of 2013 Sony had a massive reveal for the PlayStation 4 that got many gamers excited and I think a lot of people were expecting something similar here but this was far from that. I feel that a deep dive like this would be great in addition to the reveal of the box, a launch game or two, maybe some UI reveals and just overall functional upgrades that many people would experience day one. I love technical deep dives like this but I don’t think this was the time for it. Hopefully we see more on the console itself soon.