Sony Announces PlayStation 5’s Hardware, Talks Backwards Compatibility And More

Amidst the horror of the pandemic that is COVID-19/coronavirus, the whole world has seemingly been brought to a standstill. Events have been cancelled, movies stopped in their tracks, but the gaming industry soldiers on. As Microsoft recently unveiled the power of the Xbox Series X, Sony is not taking it lying down. In a presentation by PS5 lead system architect Mark Cerny, we now know a lot more about the next-gen console.

The goals for the PS5 hardware, as outlined by Cerny, was to listen to developers, balancing evolution and revolution, and finding new dreams.

Game creators matter, and the hardware is here to help them realise their dreams. One of those coming true is the inclusion of a solid-state drive. The number one most wanted feature for developers, the SSD is a big improvement over the PS4 HDD.

While the technicalities of read speed and seek time may be hard to understand, the PS5’s SSD is aiming for 50 times the read speed (5GB/s), instantaneous seek time, and 100 times faster for loading.

This perfect storm will enable the PS5 to be ultra-fast booting, with no load screens, ultra-high-speed streaming, help de-duplicate game data, and no long patch installs.

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Cerny also gave us a deep dive into the intricacies that make up the SSD, but we already know how it will impact consumers in terms of gaming on the PS5.

The revolution of the PS5 will bring new features, high efficiency, and the evolution will bring backwards compatibility and familiarity for developers.

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Backwards compatibility has now been officially confirmed, and will allow PS4 and PS4 Pro games to be played on the PS5 due to the efforts of AMD and PlayStation. The teams are also working hard to include all the games in its large library, with 100 already available at launch.

The Custom RDNA2A AMD GPU features like ray-tracing may be at the forefront of technology, but it will be optional to developers to utilise. Any new technologies will be treated as such as well. A balance between power and the heat it generates had to be struck, and Cerny believes the PS5 has the best balance to deliver the pinnacle of performance with the custom GPU and the CPU.

Addressing the inevitable comparison of teraflops (10.6 vs 12), the PS5 may be slightly behind the Xbox Series One X, but Cerny maintain it is what you do with the new power that matters, and the PS5 is up there with the best of them.

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3D audio is also an integral part of the PS5 experience. Creating great audio for all, the hardware team wants players to have real presence and a feeling of locality within a PS5 game from hundreds of advanced sound sources.

This is achieved by a custom hardware unit, the TEMPEST Engine, based off AMD GPU technology. The TEMPEST 3D Audiotech will feature GPU parallelism and SPU-like architecture, which complements each other to create amazing audio.

The focus on Head Related Transfer Function (HRTF) will ensure everyone will be able to experience sound design that is built to fit your personal needs, and more will be shared in the coming months for sure.

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It was certainly a technical presentation for sure, but at least we now know more about the hardware under the hood for the PS5. Now give us the games, the box, the controller, and we are all set for Holiday 2020.


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