We’ve known for quite some time now that the next generation of consoles is just on the horizon. However, the details of what the consoles might be was still all just speculation. This changed when an interview of the lead system architect for PS4, Mark Cerny, was published by Wired today. We finally have solid details and idea about what the next generation consoles are going to be capable of. While Sony didn’t specify any dates or gave away too many detailed details, we can work around it and pretty much pinpoint how much powerful the next hardware is going to be.
As far as the release dates are concerned, Sony is still a bit hesitant to confirm that. They’re probably waiting for a bigger press conference to reveal that. Our guess would be that the conference will probably be held around the time E3 is going on in June. However, we know that the PlayStation 5 console is not going to be out this year by any chance. The earliest we can see it coming out is in 2020 or if an interview with the head of PlayStation last year is anything to go by, we could potentially not get a new PlayStation console until 2021.
This would put Sony in a tricky situation since most reports point to the next-gen Xbox coming out next year. We all know that launching first can give significant advantages in grabbing the market. Take 2005-2006 for example. When Xbox 360 was released in 2005, the PlayStation 3 was nowhere in sight. This delayed release in 2006 by Sony played right into the hands of the Xbox as the console was very successful. Yes, Sony’s console wasn’t as good as Microsoft’s offering either but getting the console to the consumers first plays a vital role in the initial sales of any console as most people only own a single console during the first half of a console generation.
Sony hesitated calling the console PlayStation 5 and instead referred to it as the ‘next generation console’. The console is still probably going to be called PlayStation 5 though. Anyway, lets dive deep and look into the specs of the PS5.
As far as the architectural choices for the PS5 are concerned, it is going to be pretty similar to the PlayStation 4. According to Cerny, the transition from PS4 to PS5 is going to be a ‘gentle one’ and the new console is going to be very similar to the PS4. The means that the PlayStation 5 is going to be partially based on the PS4’s architecture. This news is a music to everyone’s years as this opens up the gates for the console to be backwards compatible, as confirmed by Sony. One of the reasons why the PS4 never got backwards compatibility was because of how different it was from its predecessor, the PS3.
The most important feature in the eyes of most people is how powerful it is. However, that may not be true as games will always come first. Nevertheless, the PlayStation 5 has been confirmed to pack some really beefy hardware inside it. The console will be based on an AMD chip with a custom 3rd Gen Ryzen CPU on it. The CPU itself will be based on the Zen 2 Ryzen architecture and will have 8 cores in total. It will also be based on the 7nm process meaning much better power efficiency.
According to Sony, the console will be able to support 8K resolutions. 8k is still pretty far away though and the claims of consoles being able to push 8k games using today’s hardware should not be taken very seriously. However, even if it manages to run current games at 4K60, that would still be pretty impressive since the current PC hardware barely does that in demanding games with Ray Tracing.
Talking about Ray Tracing, the console is going to have Radeon Navi based graphics that will, indeed, support Ray Tracing. However, as explained by Cerny, ray tracing tech can expand much more than just Nvidia’s current application of it in RTX cards. Until now, ray tracing has been used as an environment lighting technique to create realistic shadows and reflections. According to Cerny, we can use this tech in many other ways.
“If you wanted to run tests to see if the player can hear certain audio sources or if the enemies can hear the players’ footsteps, ray tracing is useful for that. It’s all the same thing as taking a ray through the environment.” Said Cerny. This means that ray tracing can also be used to bounce audio off different surfaces to create a more immersive experience. The AMD chip will also thus allow the game developers to create a 3D audio map using ray tracing tech in the Navi graphics card. The new approach to ray tracing will basically open up a whole new world of game development techniques making the process better and more efficient simultaneously.
The original PlayStation VR is, let’s face it, mediocre. The current generation console isn’t powerful enough for a high-resolution VR headset. We already have VR headsets in the market that can push more than quadruple the amount of pixels of PSVR already. However, according to Cerny, this will change in the next generation. The current gen PSVR headset will be compatible with PlayStation 5 but they will be working on a newer and better model as well to make real use of that powerful hardware. This might actually finally be the helping hand that VR needs to become mainstream.
After years of suffering with low data transfer rates in consoles, we finally have some good news. The PlayStation 5 has been confirmed to be moving to a Solid State Drives instead of traditional Hard Drives. As SSDs are getting cheaper and mainstream, this move makes sense. The introduction of an SSD will have a direct effect on loading times for games. The change was demonstrated by Cerny by comparing loading times for Spider-Man between a PS4 pro and a dev kit for PlayStation 5. It took the PS4 pro 15 seconds to load a fast travel sequence while on the dev kit, the loading was done and dusted in a mere 0.8 seconds. The difference is massive.
According to Mark Cerny, the PlayStation 5 will be a premium product that will push the boundaries of high-resolution console gaming. As we’ve seen from the specs, the PS5 is an absolute beast when it comes to raw power. However, that doesn’t come cheap. “I believe that we will be able to release it at an SRP (retail price) that will be appealing to gamers in light of its advanced feature set.”, stated Cerny. What this means is that the PS5 might cost a bit more than current gen consoles. Our guess is as good as yours but looking at trends and the past, it looks like the PS5 might cost somewhere around the $550 mark.
We still have a lot of details we’d like to know about and we can expect Sony to reveal everything sooner rather than later. Our guesses for the PS5 specs have been pretty accurate so far and this might be the case for the next Xbox too. The prospect of the next generation finally being here is very exciting for everyone and we can’t wait for June to learn more about the future!
If you wish to know everything we know so far about the next generation consoles from both Microsoft and Sony, we’ve gathered all the information for you right here.