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Here’s everything we know about the PlayStation 5

Sony is finally letting us in on more info about the PS5.

playstation 5 logo
Image: Sony

PlayStation Architect Mark Cerny just gave a very technical reveal of the PlayStation 5’s hardware and we’re now eagerly awaiting its release. We now know more about the AMD-supplied custom chips powering the gaming beast, more about the next-gen solid-state drive that games will live on, and some more cool features that will be coming, including a 3D audio system. But we’ll get to that in a bit.

This was a specs-heavy presentation, seemingly intended for GDC so we weren’t treated to any news about upcoming launch titles or even what the PlayStation 5 will look like. Expect more events from Sony in the run-up to that holiday 2020 launch period. But for now, here’s what we know about the upcoming PlayStation 5.

What to expect from the PlayStation 5

There is a lot to unpack between today’s presentation and prior reveals, so let’s dive in.

  • A new controller
  • Sony’s first real stab at backwards compatibility
  • Hardware-accelerated ray tracing

That should mean that the PlayStation 5 has a very similar feature set to that of the rival Xbox Series X on paper, so it will be very interesting to see how they stack up once actual units are reviewed.

The specs under the hood

We’ve known for ages now that the PlayStation 5 would be powered by a custom chip created in partnership with AMD. Now we know that the actual chip is very similar to what’s being used in the competing Xbox Series X.

It’s got an eight-core AMD Zen 2 CPU clocked at 3.5GHz (with variable frequency), and a customized GPU based on AMD’s upcoming RDNA 2 architecture that runs at 2.23 GHz, putting out 10.28 teraflops of graphics power. The system can also shift unused CPU power to work on GPU loads, so you’ll get more pixels.

CPUx86-64-AMD Ryzen™ “Zen 2”
8 Cores / 16 Threads
Variable frequency, up to 3.5 GHz
GPUAMD Radeon™ RDNA 2-based graphics engine
Ray Tracing Acceleration
Variable frequency, up to 2.23 GHz (10.3 TFLOPS)
System MemoryGDDR6 16GB
448GB/s Bandwidth
5.5GB/s Read Bandwidth (Raw)
PS5 Game DiscUltra HD Blu-ray™, up to 100GB/disc
Video OutSupport of 4K 120Hz TVs, 8K TVs, VRR (specified by HDMI ver.2.1)
Audio“Tempest” 3D AudioTech

There’s 16GB of DDR6 RAM and a custom 825GB SSD that Sony says is actually faster than any consumer PCIe 4.0 drive on the market right now. You’ll also be able to upgrade the drive easily, but you’ll have to wait for consumer tech to catch up to the high 5.5GB/s bandwidth that the PS5’s drive has. That drive lets the PS5 load five gigabytes of data in one second, versus the 20 seconds that the PS4 took to load a single gigabyte.

Oh, and yes there’s still a 4K capable Blu-ray drive, and you’ll be able to put games on external USB drives as well. Sony’s new Tempest Engine will supply 3D audio that’s superpowered by a repurposed AMD GPU unit, which gives developers the power needed for truly transformational audio positioning.

Backward compatibility on the PS5

god of war father's day

Image: PlayStation

Finally, Sony has seen the light and is committed to providing backwards compatibility, at least for PS4 titles at this moment. They looked at the top 100 PlayStation 4 titles based on playtime and are “expecting almost all of them to be playable at launch on PlayStation 5,” according to architect Mark Cerny. That’s because PS4 games will be natively supported on the PS5 GPU chip, seemingly with the logic and feature set used on the PS4’s silicon added to the PS5’s custom chip.

The current PSVR virtual reality headset will also be supported, so you don’t have to worry about buying the next version of it when it’s eventually announced.

Here’s what the PlayStation 5 will look like

sony playstation 5 versions

Image: Sony

Shown during a game reveal event, the PlayStation 5 will come in two versions – a traditional version with an optical drive for games and movies, and a digital version, that is a bit thinner. While Sony highlights the console standing vertically, there will be a stand that allows you to put the console on its side.

PlayStation 5 controller

playstation 5 controller

Image: Sony

Update 6/12/2020: You can see the official controller in the image above. The information below is still correct. We now just have pictures to go with the specs.

When Sony unveiled the release window for the PlayStation 5, they also left us with a couple of nuggets of information about the controller the console will ship with. Rumble is gone, replaced with haptic feedback. That’s like the haptic engine in your smartphone that is able to replicate a much wider range of feedback. This can even give feedback to your control sticks, so things like walking over different surfaces will feel different to your hands.

The other is that the triggers are also getting what Sony calls “adaptive triggers,” which provide extra feedback to the player. Drawing a bow ingame? The triggers will replicate the tension on the string. Maybe racing games will be able to replicate the bumps on the road, so your fingers get jostled while you’re trying to accelerate.

We also know that the new controller will have USB-C to recharge, a larger battery to rectify the DualShock 4’s woes, and an improved speaker.

PlayStation Now on PlayStation 5

Sony’s investors’ briefing in May 2019 mentioned a three-part approach to future game distribution: Blu-ray discs, downloads, and streaming. That sounds to us like Sony will be expanding the PlayStation Now service to both PlayStation and other devices, as they specifically mentioned streaming “with or without a console.”

Sony also partnered up with Microsoft to work on cloud technology, using Microsoft’s Azure data centers to power Sony’s streaming service. That’ll give PlayStation Now a huge boost, with over triple the data centers being used for the service currently.

With Sony wanting mobile game streaming as well, will we see PlayStation Now morph into an xCloud style service? That’d be great for Sony, but it’ll have to adjust pricing to match if it wants to attract gamers that don’t already own a PlayStation console.

Pricing and availability for the PlayStation 5

As it stands, the next-gen PlayStation 5 will be out in Holiday 2020, setting up a next-gen console showdown with the Xbox Series X. Historically, that means November but we can’t be sure about that with the current coronavirus situation.

Pricing has only been discussed in general terms, with system architect Mark Cerny saying “I believe that we will be able to release it at an SRP [suggested retail price] that will be appealing to gamers in light of its advanced feature set,” while speaking to Wired. Sony had to learn hard lessons in the past with the inflated PS3 price so we’re expecting a price closer to the PlayStation 4 Pro or Xbox One X at release.

All of this adds up to one thing – the next generation of consoles is going to be great.

What do you think? Excited for the PS5 or will you be going with the Xbox Series X? Or maybe both? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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