This year hasn’t been a very good start to the decade, to say the least. However, if there is one silver lining then it’s the impending release of the next-gen consoles.
During 2019, Sony began to release information about the PS5, So in April, we began to compile a comprehensive guide to all of the information that was available at the time. Most of which was given by the lead architect of the PS5, Mark Cerny, in an interview that he did with Wired.
Then, by the time January rolled by, we knew even more about the PS5, so we decided to write a follow-up article to update everyone and bring them up to speed. Now, with the release drawing closer and closer, we know pretty much everything there is to know about the console… we just haven’t actually seen the PS5 or what’s capable of yet.
So, here we are again with a new update. Only this time rather than write a brand-new article we decided to update the one we wrote in January. This is everything that is currently known about the PS5.
Anything else that is found out it in the coming months leading up to the PS5’s release, will be added to this article so be sure to bookmark it!
PS5 Release Date & Price
If history shows us anything, it’s that the price of a console can make or break its launch. In the previous-gen, the PS3 launched in the UK at $599 (£425) and putting this up against Xbox 360’s launch price, which started at $299 (£209.99), was a terrible decision that was clearly reflected in its sales. When it comes to selling points some gamers are loyalists, some are after the best specs but most of us just want the best deal.
We thought Sony had learned from their previous mistakes after the PS4 was priced a more modest $399.99/£349 but if the reports are true then the PS5 will be even more expensive than the PS4 was. Experts say that the console could be priced between $499 and $549. However, this may not be a problem for Sony considering that both the Xbox One and Xbox One X debuted at $499.
Of course, this is just bad news all round for us gamers. And while it’s still too early to pin down an exact price right now, sources are saying that the PS5 costs around $250 to manufacture, which is double the amount that it took to manufacture the PS4. So yeah, it’s not looking good.
As for the release date, all we know at this point in time is that it will be “Holiday 2020”. The last two Sony consoles released in November so a safe bet would be then.
Although, according to Bloomberg’s sources the console may experience a shortage upon launch as they’re expecting that only 6 million units will be available for purchase from the release date until March 2021. In this space of time, the PS4 sold 7.5 million units. Meaning, if the PS5 is as popular as the PS4 was during launch, then ironically, this may be a problem.
In March, Sony finally broke their silence once again as Mark Cerny gave us a “deep dive” into the PS5’s hardware. The talk was extremely long and boring, and quite hard to sit through offering little to no excitement to anyone watching.
But don’t worry, to spare you the pain of going to watch it we’ll give you a rundown of all the information that was given and then tell you a little bit about what this actually means.
|PlayStation 5||PlayStation 4|
|CPU||8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz with SMT (variable frequency)||8x Jaguar Cores at 1.6GHz|
|GPU||10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency)||1.84 TFLOPs, 18 CUs at 800MHz|
|GPU Architecture||Custom RDNA 2||Custom GCN|
|Memory/Interface||16GB GDDR6/256-bit||8GB GDDR5/256-bit|
|Internal Storage||Custom 825GB SSD||500GB HDD|
|IO Throughput||5.5GB/s (Raw), Typical 8-9GB/s (Compressed)||Approx 50-100MB/s (dependent on data location on HDD)|
|Expandable Storage||NVMe SSD Slot||Replaceable internal HDD|
|External Storage||USB HDD Support||USB HDD Support|
|Optical Drive||4K UHD Blu-ray Drive||Blu-ray Drive|
Main Custom Chip & CPU
The PS5 will be running on a custom-made AMD CPU chip based on the third generation of AMD’s Ryzen line. It will be an eight-core, 16 thread monster delivering frequencies up to 3.5GHz (the exact terminology he used was capped off at 3.5GHz)
Both the CPU and the GPU have a “boost” clock feature within which the clock speed will vary based on the activities that the CPU and GPU are performing. This is not to be confused with similarly named technologies that are found in other devices. The differences being that usually ‘boost’ technology would mean that peak performance is directly tied to the temperature environment.
Instead, the PS5 is given a set power budget and “rather than running at a constant frequency and letting the power vary based on the workload, we run at essentially constant power and let the frequency vary based on the workload.
An internal monitor analyses the workloads on both the CPU and GPU and adjusts frequencies accordingly. The monitor bases its determinations on the behaviour of a ‘model SoC’ (system on chip), which is used as a standard reference point for every PlayStation 5 that will be produced.
So, in a nutshell, rather than looking directly at the temperature of the silicon die, the system instead looks at the activities being carried out and sets the frequencies based on this information. This “makes everything deterministic and repeatable,”
Cerny also noted, “While we’re at it, we also use AMD’s SmartShift technology and send any unused power from the CPU to the GPU so it can squeeze out a few more pixels.”
Graphics & Disc Drive
The PS5’s GPU is a customised version of the AMD ADNA 2 GPU, featuring 36 compute units running at frequencies that are capped at 2.23GHz, delivering 10.28TF of peak compute performance. The RDNA compute unit completely blows the PS4/PS4 Pro equivalent out of the water. The transistor density of an RDNA 2 compute unit is 62 per cent higher than that of the PS4 CU. On top of this, it’s also worth noting that these new CU’s are also running at twice the frequency of the PS4 CUs.
When the processor hits its power limit and components drop in frequency Cerny said “ it will run at a lower clock speed. But not too much lower, to reduce power by 10 per cent it only takes a couple of per cent reduction in frequency, so I’d expect any downclocking to be pretty minor,” Meaning a slight drop in frequency will allow for significant increases in power efficiency.
Cerny also revealed there a new block known as the Geometry Engine which offers developers a never before seen amount of control over triangles and other elements. The GPU will also be able to support 8K graphics. Of course, the ability to do this will depend on the TV its being used with. 8K TV’s are currently uncommon (and extremely pricey) but this will no doubt change in the coming years.
The console will also feature a disc drive. There has been a lot of talks recently about consoles becoming all-digital in the future. Thankfully this definitely is not something to worry about yet. PS5 Discs will have the ability to hold 100GB and the console will also be able to run 4k Blu-Rays. It will also support 4K visuals at a rate of 120Hz (twice the refresh rate of standard TV’s)
This graphics chip will support ray tracing. A technique that simulates the physical behaviour of light as it transverses through 3D environments. Meaning that reflections, shadows caused by blocked light and refractions are all combined to produce the final colour of each pixel. Despite being a staple of Hollywood visual effects for some time no game console has yet been able to perform this technique.
Historically, video games have mainly used a technique known as rasterization. This technique renders computer graphics much quicker than Ray Tracing but it’s not nearly as realistic. Instead of simulating the way light behaves rasterization fakes it using artistic techniques. With the PS5 this is all set to change as ray tracing actually simulates the way light behaves based on physics. This make for much more realistic imagery.
It has already seen light implementation in PC gaming but the PS5 seeks to take this even further. Promising that fully ray-traced games will become a reality in the not too distant future.
PS5 3D Audio
Between the last two generations, one thing that hasn’t really changed is the sound. The PS3 was pretty powerful in terms of its sound capabilities and despite the clear improvements the PS4 made in most areas, one thing that didn’t really improve much was the sound capabilities.
However, with the PlayStation 5’s new Tempest Engine, this generation will take revolutionary steps for sound engineering within video games. According to Eurogamer, the Tempest Engine “is effectively a re-engineered AMD GPU compute unit, stripped of its caches and relying solely on DMA transfers”. It runs at the GPU’s frequency and delivers 64 flops per cycle.
With this new sound engine, the PS5 is capable of delivering 3D audio. Basically, what this means is that game developers will be able to create a much more immersive experience by creating three-dimensional soundscapes, allowing developers to program sounds to come at you from all angles.
The PlayStation 5 will be pushing the boundaries beyond anything we’ve seen from this type of tech before, out speccing the Dolby Atmos’ 32 3D sound sources by creating hundreds, that are also better quality.
There are still things that are being worked out behind the scenes but in terms of hardware, everything that is needed is already available within the console. It seems that to begin with, the only way players will only be able to fully experience this feature is using headphones, but Sony is adamant that going forward they will be able to produce virtual surround sound using TV speakers, soundbars and multi-speaker systems.
Head Related Transfer Function (HRTF)
To accurately create 3D audio, Sony, will be using data known as the head-related transfer function. This is a response that categorizes how an ear receives a sound from a particular point in space. It’s basically, a table that maps how audio is perceived and this is affected by variables such as the size and shape of the head, the contours of the inner ear etc. So, using a pair of HRTFs (one for each ear because they are not identical) a sound that seems to come from a particular point in space can be synthesised.
However, the problem standing in the way of the surround audio system reaching its full potential is, of course, the fact that everyone’s head and ears are different. Even our own two ears are very different.
Sony has modelled HRTFs for about a hundred people to get an idea of how the data varies from person to person and using this data they created five presets that will be available upon launch. There will be a configuration tool that ensures that you select the best preset.
This will of course not be as effective as being able to input your own HRTF, which is something that Sony is still figuring out. “Maybe you’ll be sending us a photo of your ear, and we’ll use a neural network to pick the closest HRTF in our library,” Cerny said.
He also suggested, “Maybe you’ll be sending us a video of your ears and your head, and we’ll make a 3D model of them and synthesise the HRTF. Maybe you’ll play an audio game to tune your HRTF, we’ll be subtly changing it as you play, and home in on the HRTF that gives you the highest score, meaning that it matches you the best.”
This is a journey we’ll all be taking together over the next few years. Ultimately, we’re committed to enabling everyone to experience that next level of realism.”
Mark Cerny said that the number request for the next-gen from developers and publishers was the integration of an SSD. Sony have taken this request and doubled down, producing a performance level that is rated at two orders of magnitude faster than that of a PlayStation 4.
The SSD combined with the custom hardware that has been designed to optimise it will access game data and deliver loading times with speeds that would make the PS4 blush. It will give the ability to access 5.5GB (raw) or 8-9GB (compressed) of data per second. A speed which is around 100 times faster than the PS4 is capable of. Delivering an IO throughput of around 50-100MB/s dependent on the data location.
Sony has gone on record saying that loading times will be increased to such a speed that games will boot from the dashboard with an almost complete bypass of loading times. This also means more freedom for game developers in making world. This means tricks like elevators, and paths with restricted views used to hide loading times will no longer be necessary.
Using an SSD will also mean there is no longer a need to duplicate download files to compensate for slower loading times. I know Call of Duty players will appreciate this, every time I get some spare time to play a game there seems to be an update and most of my playing time is taken up not by the download of the update but the copying of the files!
Digital Foundry’s John Linneman had this to say about the PS5’s SSD:
How much difference does this make?
To put into perspective how effective this custom hardware is; using an SSD on PS4 should offer speeds that are 10x faster but in reality, it only doubles speeds. The PS5, on the other hand, looks to increase speed by 100x. So yeah, there’s a massive difference!
The PS5 will come with a custom 825GB SSD hard drive upon launching. So not only is it faster than any PS4 hard drive it’s also a lot bigger than the one that launched with the PS4.
Also, for anyone who thinks that 825GB isn’t enough for them, there will be both Sony-certified and off the shelf solutions available to replace the internal hard drive with.
But this is another subject that would require more explaining as it’s not as simple as just picking a bigger SSD. There are other factors to consider such as the fact that many SSDs currently on the market don’t have the same bandwidth specifications.
Another solution would, of course, be to use an external hard drive to download games. This wouldn’t be anywhere near as fast the PS5’s internal SSD and there’s also the slight possibility they won’t support PS5 games.
However, if you just wanted somewhere to store your PS4 games to free up space on your SSD this would be fine but you wouldn’t experience the fast loading benefits of your SSD.
Another step towards a more immersive gameplay experience is the PS5’s DualSense™ wireless controller. Sony wrote on their blog that when the PS4 launched in 2013 the DualShock 4 wireless controller received a lot of praise for its innovative design features and when they began designing a controller for the next-gen they asked themselves how it would be possible to build on that success?
They decided that it would be a good idea to keep the features that received the most praise whilst adding a few new features and also fine-tuning the design. After talking to developers, they came to the conclusion that not unlike sound, touch had been neglected within gameplay.
Sony said that the DualSense™ will adopt what is called haptic feedback. This will add “a variety of powerful sensations you’ll feel when you play, such as the slow grittiness of driving a car through mud.”
Another new feature is the incorporation of adaptive triggers into the L2 and R2 buttons, increasing the tension felt during activities such as drawing a bow and arrow or pulling the trigger of a gun.
The inclusion of these features meant they had to figure a way of including the components within the hardware without “giving it a bulky feeling”. The aim was to make the controller feel smaller than it looks. Which led them to changing the angle of the triggers and also updating the grip.
Battery life was also something they took into consideration. They sought to find a way of maintaining a strong battery life for the DualSense’s rechargeable battery whilst simultaneous decreasing the weight of the controller as new features were piled on.
In place of the “share” button, there is now a “create” button. Not much was said about this change but from what Sony said it seems to serve a similar function.
DualSense also has a built-in microphone array enabling players to talk without a headset. “ideal for jumping into a quick conversation. But of course, if you are planning to chat for a longer period, it’s good to have that headset handy.”
Speaking of immersive gameplay. Cerny also talked about how the previously described 3D sound would give an enhanced VR experience. Leaving the player feeling as though they were actually existing within the simulated environment.When asked if there will be a next-gen PSVR to go alongside this console.
He exclaimed, “I won’t go into the details of our VR strategy today beyond saying that VR is very important to us and that the current PSVR headset is compatible with the new console.” It’s currently unknown if a new PSVR device will be coming out anytime soon. But a safe bet would be that there will be in the not too distant future if one isn’t released at the same time as the release of the PS5.
The new interface allows players to see more details about friends’ games without actually opening the applications. Cerny stated:
“We don’t want the player to have to boot the game, see what’s up, boot the game, see what’s up. Multiplayer game servers will provide the console with the set of joinable activities in real-time. Single-player games will provide information like what missions you could do and what rewards you might receive for completing them—and all of those choices will be visible in the UI. As a player, you just jump right into whatever you like.”
As the release date is drawing closer, more and more developers are announcing their titles as playable on the PS5. The first title that was announced was Godfall, which was announced late last year.
Since then, there’s been a number of developers coming out of the woodworks. On top of this, there’s also been a myriad of whispers through grapevine involving other popular titles that may be making their way to the console.
It’s currently unknown which games will be PS5 launch titles and we likely won’t know until we get some type of reveal event detailing this kind of thing, but we’ve compiled a list of confirmed titles and also some rumoured titles which are likely to be landing on the next-gen console.
- Warframe (TBA)
- Gothic (TBA)
- Rainbow Six Siege (Launch)
- Outriders (Holiday 2020)
- The Lord Of The Rings: Gollum (2021)
- Godfall (Holiday 2020)
- Unnamed Bluepoint Studios Game (TBA)
- Watch Dogs: Legion ((TBA)
- Gods and Monsters (TBA)
- Rainbow Six: Quarantine
- WRC 9 (TBD)
- Dying Light 2 (TBD)
- Cyberpunk 2077
- Death Stranding
- Ghost of Tsushima
- The Last of Us: Part 2
- The Elder Scrolls 6
- Grand Theft Auto 6
- Final Fantasy 7 Remake
- Horizon Zero Dawn 2
- God of War 2
- Battlefield 6
- Gran Turismo
Is The PS5 Backwards Compatible?
One of the most disappointing things about the PS4 was the lack of backwards compatibility. Games aren’t cheap and every generation players are forced to give up their old games when they make the switch to the next-gen. One of the great things about the PS2 is that you could still play all your old PS One games. You didn’t have to toss them aside and trade them for a mere fraction of the price you bought them for.
The launch edition PS3’s were backwards compatible but every console since then has lacked this feature. Luckily, the PS5 sets to break this trend. Due to the similar internal architecture, the PS5 will be almost totally backwards compatible. Yeah, that’s right almost…
Apparently, because of the boosted frequency, this can cause problems for some titles. Although, on the positive side some titles will be greatly enhanced. This is partly due to the solid-state drive (more on that later)
The higher frequency will allow certain titles to run at higher, more stable frame rates and even allow for higher resolutions. They are currently evaluating games on a title by title basis but it’s been said that “an overwhelming majority of the 4000+ games” will be compatible with the PS5.
SIE president Jim Ryan said told CNET that backwards compatibility and cross-gen are important features needed to provide players with a seamless transition. What’s even better is that PS4 games will apparently run even faster when played on the PS5.
It’s also been stated that many new games will be released for both the PS4 and the next-gen further adding to the promised smooth transition.
This is everything we know about the PS5 but any new information will be added to this page. So be sure to bookmark it!