The new Sony PS5 may cost 3 times more than PS4 with blazing fast SSD, mega-powerful RDNA-based graphics card and immersive 3D audio engine

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1st April 2020 – (Hong Kong) According to Tom’s Guide, the PlayStation 5 will launch in Holiday 2020, boasting serious specs including 8-core processors that allow for ray tracing and zippy SSDs that all but eliminate load times.

Sony recently took the wraps off of a ton of key PS5 specs, including its blazing fast SSD, mega-powerful RDNA-based graphics card and immersive 3D audio engine. Here’s everything Tom’s Guide has revealed about the PS5, including its release date, confirmed specs, expected games and more.

Picture credit : Sony
  • 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

The PS5 is a little less mysterious than before, thanks to a live stream from Sony on 18th March. Mark Cerny, a lead systems architect at Sony, hosted a talk today that walked users through some of the salient points of the PS5’s hardware. The lecture was rather technical in nature — to the chagrin of some fans who were hoping for a more straightforward reveal event — but it did give us some solid information about how the PS5 might perform, and the hardware in place to make that performance possible.

During his talk, Cerny hit on three main pillars of the PS5’s development: “Listening to developers,” “Balancing evolution and revolution” and “Finding new dreams.” Practically speaking, these three categories speak to the PS5’s SSD configuration, backwards compatibility and 3D audio capabilities. We also learned about the system’s CPU, GPU and RAM structure, although that information is potentially of more use to developers than everyday consumers at the moment.

Listening to developers

While the PS5 will be able to produce better graphics than the PS4, the more pressing concern is load times. Cerny explained that the PS4’s internal hard drive, at best, can load about 1 GB of data in 7 seconds — and this figure usually balloons to 20 seconds, once you take seek times into account.

The solution, according to Cerny, was to take advantage of solid state drives (SSDs), which were prohibitively costly when the PS4 first came out, but now quite common. Since SSDs require no seek time, and retrieve information much faster, Cerny said that the PS5 targets a load rate of 5.5 GB/s. In theory, that’s almost 10 times faster than the PS4. Cerny imagines that developers might have to artificially increase wait times for loading screens, respawns and fast travel, if only to stop things from happening too fast for the player.

(It’s worth noting that in practice, load times are dependent on more than simply how fast a console can parse data, but if the PS5 can halve load times rather than increasing them tenfold, that will still have a big impact on how players go through games.)

To be cost-effective, however, Cerny said that the PS5’s default hard drive will be 825 GB. (Whether he means 825 GB usable space or total space, he didn’t elaborate.) Players who want more storage space will be able to replace the SSD with third party models, but they won’t be able to do so right away.

Last year, for example, even the most powerful SSDs on the market could only transfer data at a rate of 3.0 GB/s. Cerny believes that by the end of this year, they’ll be up to a rate of 7.0 GB/s. Sony will still have to test a variety of drives for both functionality and physical fit, to ensure compatibility. After all, if the SSDs can’t hit the 5.5 GB/s transfer rate, high-end games could be nearly unplayable.

As such, Cerny believes that SSD swapping will have to wait until somewhat after the PS5’s launch. He cautioned potential buyers to hold off on purchasing additional SSDs for now. (External hard drives are fine, if you want to use them to store PS4 games.)

Balancing evolution and revolution

Cerny thought that for the PS5 launch, it was important to balance the concepts of evolution — backwards compatibility and familiarity for developers — and revolution — new features and higher efficiency.

Cerny’s lecture on “revolution” was one of the most technically complex of his talk, focusing on the PS5’s custom RDNA2 AMD GPU, and the physical construction of the PS5’s CPU. The short version is that the control unit (CU) on the PS5 is 62% larger than the PS4’s, largely due to the amount of transistors present. This means the PS5’s CPU will be able to route more processes, more efficiently.

The GPU will also make use of both ray tracing and primitive shaders, which will affect both power consumption and heat management. Unlike the PS4, on which power consumption can variously tremendously from game to game, the PS5 will try to standardize power consumption for each game and make resources available as needed. This should prevent overheating, as well as excessive fan noise.

Potentially more interesting to the everyday consumer was the information on how PS5’s backwards compatibility would work. Unlike the PS3, which essentially incorporated a PS2’s guts into early models, the PS5 will run older games via regularized software algorithms. In theory, this means that almost every PS4 game will be compatible with the PS5 right from the get-go.

In practice, that seems to be the way things are working out, too. Cerny explained that the developers have tested the PS5 with the top 100 PS4 games (based on playtime), and discovered that most of them work beautifully. At launch, most of those 100 games will be playable. However, Cerny didn’t detail which games would get left out. He also didn’t elaborate on whether every PS4 game would be compatible until proven otherwise, or whether Sony would manage which games get the backwards compatibility treatment first.

One bright spot, at least, is that the PS5 will offer both PS4 Pro and regular PS4 compatibility modes, so games that were optimized for the PS4 Pro will not get left behind.

Finding new dreams

One of the most exciting —but also most technically demanding — aspects of the PS5 is its emphasis on 3D audio. Cerny pointed out that a game screen refreshes between 60 and 120 times per second, but audio calculations have to happen up to 200 times per second. Audio is a vital part of any game experience and developers have not always given it the due it deserves.

Some PC headsets already feature 3D audio, but eventually, Cerny wants the PS5 to deliver 3D audio, regardless of platform: TV speakers, headset or soundbar. The key to 3D audio lies in Head Related Transfer Function, or HRTF.

Briefly, everyone’s ears are shaped somewhat differently, and that affects how our brains process sound. HRTF maps out an individual’s hearing based on a sound’s frequency, direction and volume.

While it’s not possible for the PS5 to account for every single individual’s HRTF (at least not at launch), Sony mapped out five different standardized HRTF profiles, and users will be able to select the one that best matches their preferences. If the HRTF is close to a user’s ear structure, he or she will hear sounds as though they were happening in real life, all around them, rather than coming from a speaker.

This functionality will be available only on headsets at first, but Cerny wants to expand it tremendously over the next few years. He envisions a future in which a user could send a picture of his or her ears and a neural net could analyze them — or one in which every user starts the PS5 experience by playing an audio game to map out an exact HRTF profile. This is a feature that will keep evolving as the PS5 does.

As far as release date and games, we don’t have any more information than we did before. But this deep dive was a promising start, and could mean a substantially better moment-to-moment experience than the PS4 offers.

PS5 release date

According to Sony, the PlayStation 5 will officially launch in Holiday 2020. That will put it right up against Xbox Series X

We have yet to get a specific date for an official reveal event or the console’s retail release, but rumors have been flying fast around a potential launch event. After various rumored February dates never came to fruition, all eyes were on a potential March reveal event, which could be March 18 event, due to a tip from Twitter leakster PSErebus.

The PS4 hit shelves on November 15, 2013, and we expect Sony’s console to arrive in stores around a similar fall window in 2020.

PS5 price

The PS4 found big success by undercutting the Xbox One at launch with its $399 price tag, but the PS5 might not be quite as affordable. In his quarterly forecast (as reported by Twinfinite), Ace Research Institute analyst Hideki Yasuda predicts that the system will launch for $499, which is $100 more than what the PS4 and PS4 Pro sold for at launch.

This prediction lines up with a February 2020 report from Bloomberg, which claims that the PS5 will cost more than the PS4 did at launch due to expensive components such as DRAM and flash memory. Speaking to Bloomberg, Macquarie Capital analyst Damian Thong estimates that the PS5 price will land around $470.

In March 2020, a Facebook post from Canadian game retailer Play N Trade Vancouver suggests that the PS5 could cost around $396, which would be shockingly low given previous price reports. However, its possible that Play N Trade is taking pre-orders at a placeholder price, and will adjust accordingly when Sony announces an official MSRP.

The PS5 will be powered by a CPU based on AMD’s third-generation, eight-core Ryzen processor, as well as a custom GPU based on the AMD Radeon Navi line. That graphics card will allow the PS5 to deliver ray tracing, which is an ultra-realistic lighting technology that was first made popular by Nvidia’s RTX cards. As noted by TFT Central, the PS5 could even support Nvidia G-Sync, thanks to Nvidia opening up the technology to AMD GPUs.

In a “Road to PS5” talk, Mark Cerny said that the PS4 produces 10.3 teraflops of processing power, lower than the Xbox Series X specs of 12 teraflops. However, Cerny seemed to pre-empt this comparison, saying that there are many other measurements that determine graphical quality, and that the PS5 will be working at near maximum capacity at all times. Hopefully this means there won’t be too much of a performance gap between the two consoles after all.

The system’s CPU will allow for 3D audio, which promises to be more immersive than that of the PS4 whether you’re playing with headphones or through your TV speakers. The PS5’s massive power will also allow for resolutions of up to 8K (for reference, the PS4 Pro maxes out at 4K.) The PlayStation 5 will also feature a 4K Blu-ray player for physical discs.

Cerny noted that the system will feature a speedy SSD (solid state drive) for loading games faster. In a demonstration, Cerny showed off that the system’s new SSD, a segment of Marvel’s Spider-Man that normally took 15 seconds to load took under a second. Additionally, Sony confirmed that the PS5 will support physical discs. In a follow-up with Wired in October, Cerny also noted that the SSD may allow players to download specific portions of games, such as the story campaign or multiplayer suite.

In his Road to PS5 talk, Cerny gave more details on the SSD again, with the key spec that it could load 2GB of files in 0.27 seconds. That should make for some unnoticeable loading times once game devs get to grips with the new console.

You can watch the livestream “Road to PS5” talk, given by lead architect Mark Cerny, for some really in-depth information about the PS5’s hardware, but we’ll summarise it here.

At the “Road to PS5” talk, the PS5’s lead architect Mark Cerny explained a lot of details about the new console’s hardware. He spent a lot of time explaining how the PS5’s SSD storage will be 100 times faster than the PS4’s storage, which will allow developers more freedom to develop, and keep obstacles like load screens and hidden slowdowns out of the way of the players.

You can install third-party PS5 drives, but we don’t know which ones yet, since Sony will only support specific kinds which at least match the speed of the internal SSD.

For graphics, Cerny mentioned the benefits that ray tracing and a consistent GPU/CPU frequency will have, allowing the PS5 to run its fan at a continuous, quieter speed than the PS4, and of course make your games look better.

There’s been a lot of focus on making virtual 3D audio for the PS5 too. Rather than a simple two-channel stereo set-up, Cerny promised that developers would be able to make you hear exactly where sounds were coming from within a game’s environment. This will be available whether you’re using speakers, a soundbar or headphones, and can be customized with an audio profile to make sure each user gets the most out of the technology.

PS5 controller

In October 2019, Sony provided Wired with an exclusive look at the next DualShock, which is reportedly very similar in design to the DualShock 4. The new controller appears to have some sort of microphone (perhaps for the system’s rumored voice assistant) and will sport haptic feedback for more immersive rumble.

In demonstrations for Wired, Sony showed off how the controller could make you feel the difference between track and dirt in a racing game, or the difference between trudging through sand and gliding on ice in a platformer. The new DualShock will also have adaptive triggers, which will allow you to better feel the tactile sensation of things such as firing a bow and arrow or driving off-road. 

While Sony has already confirmed a few official PS5 controller features, some recent rumors point to an even more interesting DualShock 5. A recent patent suggests that the PS5 controller could support wireless charging, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A February 2018 Sony patent hints that Sony is working on a controller that could track your sweat and heart rate, potentially adjusting what’s happening in-game when you’re playing an intense action or horror title.

In January 2020, images of Sony’s purported DualShock 5 taken by someone who allegedly works as a cleaner for Sony’s dev kit systems ware posted to Reddit. The prototype controller pictured in the images looks a bit chunkier than the current DualShock 4 (perhaps to accommodate the haptic features), with the same general button layout in addition to what looks like some sort of new connection point at the bottom.

PS5 interface

The PS5 interface will look fairly similar to that of the PS4’s, if some sketchy leaks are to be believed. User John Titor posted an image on Slashleaks of what is purportedly the PS5’s UI, which looks to once again have a large horizontal bar of icons for key menus and apps. The big difference this time around is that, based on this image, “Games” and “Apps” would have their own distinct menus, and wouldn’t be lumped together like they are on the PS4 right now.

A separate alleged look at the PS5’s interface made the rounds on 4chan (and later on Reddit) earlier in January, with larger app and menu icons. However, this UI is believed to be that of the PS5 dev kits that have been showing up in leaked images left and right, and likely isn’t indicative of how the final PS5 interface will look.

PS5 design

Sony patent discovered in August 2019 could give us a clue about the PS5’s potential design. The patent images show what looks like a chunky game console, complete with a slew of USB ports, a disc drive, and a unique V-shaped chassis that could help keep the system cool. 

The folks at LetsGoDigital mocked up their own PS5 render based on the patent images, proving how the odd shape could actually turn out to be an attractive game console.

The folks at Gizmodo were sent images of the alleged PS5 dev kit, which are reportedly identical to the patent images that have been circulating for months. What’s more, the report claims that both the PS5 and Xbox Series X will pack integrated cameras for hassle-free livestreaming. 

In late November, a Twitter user posted images of what appear to be the PS5 dev kit out in the wild, complete with the same large V-shaped design we’ve seen in previous renders and leaks. However, it’s worth noting that developer hardware tends to look very different from the final product, and it seems very unlikely that the huge boxes shown in these images are retail PS5 units.

PS5 games: The titles to expect

Even though it’s a bit early out, we already have a good sense of what the first wave of PS5 games will be. Current confirmed PS5 games include People Can Fly’s third-person shooter Outriders, as well as Counterplay Games’ “looter slasher” game Godfall.

According to our friends at GamesRadar, Ubisoft confirmed in a conference call that upcoming titles such as Watch Dogs Legion, Gods and Monsters and Rainbow Six Quarantine will be optimized for PS5 and Xbox Series X. Renowned remake studio Bluepoint Games (Shadow of the Colossus) told Wired in October that its “working on a big one” in regards to its upcoming PS5 game.

Interestingly, Sony has said that the PS5 launch exclusives won’t be playable on PS4. The Xbox Series X will not be doing this though, and instead will share its new games with the Xbox One and PC. There are arguments for both, but it looks like Sony is hoping to make its new console a little more desirable by making sure you can’t get the brand new exclusives anywhere else.

We also wouldn’t be shocked to see a version of The Elder Scrolls VI and Cyberpunk 2077 land on Sony’s next-generation hardware. And since they release like clockwork, expect new Madden, NBA 2K and FIFA titles around the PS5’s launch window.

PS5 vs. Xbox Series X

When PS5 launches in Holiday 2020, it will be in direct competition with Microsoft’s Xbox Series X. Both consoles seem to be targeting similar specs and performance ranges, with each system touting custom AMD Zen 2 processors, custom SSDs that all but eliminate load times and advanced RAM for supporting features such as ray tracing.

We already know that Series X will support features such as Variable Refresh Rate (making the console ideal for G-Sync and FreeSync gaming monitors), as well as Microsoft’s own Variable Rate Shading technology, so we’ll have to see if the PS5 will counter with similar tech.

Of the two consoles, only the Series X has a final, confirmed design, touting a tower-like shape that’s built for maximum airflow and can be positioned both horizontally and vertically. Leaked PS5 dev kits have pointed to a chunky horizontal design, but we’ll have to see how the final build shakes out.

And then there are the games. Xbox Series X will feature titles such as Halo Infinite and Hellblade II. While we don’t have any confirmed first-party Sony PS5 games just yet, it’s safe to assume the next God of War, Spider-Man and Horizon titles will live on the new console. Fortunately for PS4 and Xbox One owners, both PS5 and Series X will be backwards compatible. 

PS5 backwards compatibility

If you’re wondering if your PS4 titles will carry over to the PS5, wonder no more. In the Wired interview, Sony confirmed that the PS5 will play PS4 games as well as support the current PlayStation VR headset. However, there will be some limitations initially. In the Road to PS5 developer talk, Mark Cerny said that out of the 100 most played PS4 games, the majority of them would be playable at launch. How many that means in reality, and what that means for the playability of less popular PS4 games remains to be seen.

However, the jury’s still out on whether the PS5 will play games from older PlayStation generations, as was rumored several months ago.

Original article from Tom’s Guide.

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