Sony reveals PlayStation 5 specs

Sony reveals PlayStation 5 specs
The PlayStation 5 logo
The PlayStation 5 logo
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The PlayStation 5 logo
The PlayStation 5 logo

Sony has finally whipped the covers off the PlayStation 5 – well, mostly. We still don’t know what the thing itself actually looks like, but we got a pretty good peek under the hood. The PS5 is set to be a massive improvement over the PS4, with a powerful new graphics processor and "instantaneous" load times.

It turns out the talk was originally scheduled for the Game Developers Conference (GDC), which would have been held this week were it not for COVID-19. Instead Mark Cerny, lead system architect at Sony, took to the stage in a somewhat dry, corporate presentation.

He revealed the PS5 is running on an 8-core AMD Ryzen Zen 2 CPU, and an AMD Radeon RDNA 2 GPU. The latter boasts 10.3 Teraflops of processing power – by comparison, the launch PS4 had only 1.84 TFLOPs, and the PS4 Pro had 4.2. That’s backed up by 16 GB of GDDR6 RAM.

The stale old hard disk drive (HDD) has been swapped out for a solid state drive (SSD), with 825 GB of storage space. That’s a bit of a strange number, so we suspect that it might be a 1 TB drive with 175 GB already taken up with system data.

This SSD, coupled with the specially designed architecture, should speed up the console dramatically. Because the data is accessible immediately, the system and the games should boot up ultra-fast, and in-game load times between levels or lives should be basically non-existent. Cerny jokes that developers might even have to artificially slow it down, so players don’t get confused about what’s happening.

In numbers, the PS5 SSD has a target bandwidth of about 5 GB per second – a huge step up from the PS4’s 100 MB/s. That means that it’ll take just a quarter of a second for the console to load in 2 GB of data, when starting a level for example. It takes the PS4 20 seconds to load just 1 GB.

The powerful new GPU enables those levels to look their best. One of the main technologies is ray tracing, where the path of light is traced as it moves through environments, producing realistic reflections, shadows and filtering.

A similar system is in place for audio, precisely modeling sound waves in a technology Sony calls Tempest 3D AudioTech.

While we haven’t heard anything definitive about specific games yet, we do know physical copies will come on 100-GB Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. Around 100 of the top PS4 games will be playable on the PS5 at launch, and Sony says that number will expand over time.

Also absent from the presentation was any mention of price or release date. So far all we know is that it’s due out in the 2020 holiday season, and if we had to guess we’d say November. No doubt we’ll get more info throughout the year – and maybe one day we'll finally see what the thing itself actually looks like.

Check out the full, almost-hour-long presentation below.

The Road to PS5

Source: PlayStation Blog

It looks like you can expand the storage with either a HDD (fine for PS4 games) or M.2 SSD (recommended for PS5 games) but the compatible SSD's have to be pretty high end being PCIe NVMe drives supporting > 5.5 GB/s. He talks about this starting about 20 mins into the video and says they probably won't have a recommended compatible M.2 expansion drive at launch yet. I see people saying you are going to need an 8k TV capable of 120 Hz to support these consoles and that's unlikely to be true. The last gen consoles supported 4k playback but actual rendered games struggled to run 1080p at 60fps. Many times games would run only 30 fps or (in the case of Xbox One) scale resolution down to 720p in order to keep frame rates up. Even very high end GPU's like GTX 2080 Ti ($1,300) can struggle at 60FPS x 4k even without ray tracing which adds a lot of overhead. Even as fast as these consoles are they would need to make sacrifices in detail to support 4k@30fps. Using some of the computationally ray tracing stuff will probably require something more like 2560×1440 (2k) resolution which is still good. They may officially support video playback at 8kx120Hz but rendered games will be nowhere near that which if fine because 8k is stupidly into diminishing returns anyway. I don't think I would be in a hurry to go get an 8k TV expecting a PS5 to do much with it.
Great info Daishi, thanks!! I've known this for awhile, but that really explains it in detail.