Sony’s PlayStation 5 will become the next-gen next-generation console (ninth generation, to be precise). Yes, you understood correctly, Sony did not immediately enter the console race. The prefix announcement is scheduled for the end of 2020, but the company is in no hurry to reveal all the cards. To date, only one significant event for the players has been held. Prior to this, only the console logo was shown.
It’s worth a few words to devote to the event itself. It took place under the name The Road to PlayStation 5 (from the English on the way to the PlayStation 5). The lead was Mark Zerny. This man stood at the very beginnings of Sony consoles, although he was practically not involved in the creation of the PlayStation 1. But since the PlayStation 2, he played an important role in the development of the console. Starting with the PlayStation 4, Zerni is the chief console engineer for Sony. In addition to the development of gaming devices, Mark is actively involved in creating games. He was responsible for such hits as Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, Ratchet & Clank and many others.
The presentation was addressed more to game developers, and not to the players themselves. It sounded a lot of technical information. And the players, meanwhile, were waiting for at least the renderings of the new console to be shown, but everything was limited to only listing the main features and a detailed description of the main advantages of the console.
PlayStation 5 Specifications
CPU: processor based on AMD Zen 2 architecture up to 3.5 GHz
8 cores, 16 threads
Additional coprocessor for working with archives
GPU: graphics cores based on the RDNA 2 architecture, clock speeds up to 2.23 GHz
Performance: 10.28 TFlops
36 computing units
RAM: 16 GB GDDR6 256-bit
Bandwidth: 448GB / s
Storage: custom 825 GB SSD
Bandwidth : 5.5 GB / s (uncompressed files), 8-9 GB / s (compressed files)
Expandability: NVMe SSD
External Storage: USB HDD / SSD
Optical drive: 4K UHD Blu-ray, 100 GB discs
Ports: USB 3.1, Ethernet, HDMI 2.1
PlayStation 5 CPU
The new console will use an AMD Zen 2 x86 processor. This is a huge leap in performance. Recall that in the PS4 there were 8 Jaguar cores, at one time they became the answer to the Atom line from Intel. In short, at the time of the release of PS4 in the segment of desktop computers, you could find processors with much higher performance per core. Compared to Core i, Jaguar was 3 times weaker in single-threaded tasks.
Now the situation is completely different, in the Sony and Microsoft consoles Zen 2 kernels will be used, and at the moment they are one of the most productive processor cores. This can significantly change the balance of power. If the PC from the very release of the PS4 and Xbox One remained in the lead, now it can go on to the role of a catch-up. And that’s why. In consoles, software optimization is carried out at a completely different level, and 1-4 cores are still responsible for rendering the scene. From this we can conclude that the locations in the games on the PS5 and Xbox Series X will be filled with small details. Although the PC will have more powerful graphics chips, they are unlikely to be loaded with equally detailed scenes, instead they will press on effects and resolution.
There will be something like this, 2 cores will go to the needs of the system, 2 cores will be directly responsible for rendering, 4 cores will do the rest: NPC interaction, physics, miscalculation of deformations, tissue simulation and so on. The latter means that in addition to a large number of objects in the scene, there will be interaction between them.
PlayStation 5 Graphics Subsystem
At first glance, it might seem that 10 TFlops is not such a big difference to release a new console (PS4 Pro had 4.2 TFlops), but with new processor cores and a fast drive, the scenarios for using graphics change dramatically. If you previously tried to reduce the number of objects, now it will increase several times, in addition, they will be diverse.
If we talk about resolution, the new console will allow you to set an honest 4k 2160p resolution (for the current generation of the game, they often get only in the resolution of 1440-1792p). But this does not mean that after a while they will not begin to lower the resolution, in this case, like last time, the PS5 Pro will come to the rescue.
Ray tracing will appear with the new graphic architecture. Microsoft has already shown that this technology successfully works on a pre-release sample of their console. Sony also mentioned that it would find use for it. It will be interesting to compare how the games will work on the new consoles, because Sony had to develop shadow, reflection and reflection algorithms separately from Microsoft, the PS5 will again use its low-level API, and Microsoft’s trace will appear in the new version of DirectX.
At the presentation, we paid attention to the new geometric engine. It will automatically rebuild object models depending on how far they are and what part of them is directed at the player. Recall that LOD models are now used with varying degrees of detail, depending on the distance, a particular model of the object is loaded. Drawing a large number of polygons in itself is not a big problem, but the speed of post-processing will directly depend on this factor.
PC users should be reminded that all large titles are primarily designed for consoles, so in order for your video card to remain relevant for a long time, it must support all new technologies. If you are going to upgrade, we advise you to wait for the new generation of video cards, which will last at least until the release of the PS5 Pro, and if we are talking about top solutions, then until the release of the PS6.
Operational, and in combination and video memory will be 16 GB GDDR6. A little alarming is its speed of 448 GB / s. Zerny repeatedly emphasized that the new drive will allow storing less “spare” textures in the video memory, which means that even 8 GB of memory can be used for rendering, and with this value, the frame rate may sink below 60 (448 / 8 = 56).
But on the other hand, if you used a larger amount of memory with more bandwidth, for example, 32 GB 1 TB / s, then this would affect several things at once, the price of the console, the capacity of the drives, and so on. Nevertheless, the current solution can be considered optimal.
PlayStation 5 Storage Memory System
The drive can be called the most significant change in the PS5. Almost half of the presentation was devoted to him, and there is a reason for this. Zerni reminded about the quite obvious advantages of SSDs, like an order of magnitude faster speed than HDDs, as well as quick access to files. But games are of interest to us, how the fast drive will affect them.
The console will use an SSD with a speed of 5.5 GB / s. But the files will be stored in a compressed state, this is a completely standard tactic, but it was rethought. Now the compression, most likely, will be less strong, but with the help of an additional processor, which will be responsible for unpacking, it will become possible to extract files on the fly. That is, archives will be read at a full speed of 5.5 GB / s and 8-9 GB of files will be unpacked every second.
The above slide shows what is proposed to be done, namely, to store in RAM only those textures that are needed to draw the next second. But again, if you use 8 GB of texture for each frame, then the bandwidth is not enough for a stable 60 frames per second.
The throughput of PCI-e 3.0 in real-world scenarios is around 9-10 GB / s. This is the speed at which the computer’s video card communicates with RAM. That is, we can conclude that the drive in the PS5 will act as RAM. This is what fundamentally changes the idea of future games, it will become possible to load levels in just a second. To create a seamless world, they used elevators, transitions, labyrinths and so on in order to have time to unpack textures into RAM. Now the level design can undergo changes, there will no longer be buffer zones, whose only purpose was to give the system time to load the level.
The logical question arises as to how much space new games will occupy, especially those that use only fast archiving. For example, GTA 5 takes up more than 90 GB of storage, but it was designed for 1080p resolution, so you can safely multiply this figure by one and a half for 4k. And if you use fast archiving to use SSD as RAM, you can multiply by two more, in the end it turns out that games of this level may well occupy about 300 GB. 825 GB of storage is enough for only 2-3 large games. And this is a game of the past generation, and new processors are able to transmit several times more 3D objects for rendering, which means that games can weigh even more. So we can conclude that the downloads are likely to go nowhere, but will occur much less frequently.
The new drive will allow you to save the full state of the game in just a few seconds and also quickly load the game back. Microsoft has already shown that this is entirely possible. For games with checkpoints this does not play any role, but in games, such as sports simulations, the new technology will come in handy.
PlayStation 5 Sound System
At the presentation, sound ranked second in importance. For processing will be responsible for the special engine Tempest 3D Audio Tech. It is based on HRTF technology (with the English transfer function associated with the head). Sony will not be a pioneer, HRTF can already be found in some games, for example in PUBG. In a nutshell, then each location of the sound source has its own frequency response deviation, which is associated with the shape of the auricle. The brain is able to detect these deviations and, judging by them, make a conclusion about where the sound comes from.
The company conducted a large study, measured the levels of sound deviations in hundreds of people. But pay attention to where the microphone is located. If the sound was recorded directly in the ear canal, then it should be reproduced in the same place. When using in-ear headphones, you can get the best results, but the sound from the speakers is unlikely to boast the same accuracy. One can only hope that the engineers managed to make the correct adjustments for the speakers, otherwise, instead of improving, you can get a spoiled sound.
PlayStation 5 Dualsense Controller The Gamepad
So far, we have only seen the prototype of the controller along with the devkit console, so the design may change. Of the promised, it is worth noting the additional buttons on the back of the device, as well as the ability to change the resistance of the triggers. It is not yet clear how this will happen, it is possible that right during the game it will be possible to feel the resistance that the “gas pedal” exerts. Recall that for these purposes, in the Xbox One controller, vibration motors were installed directly in the triggers. It seems that Sony has gone further and will introduce to the world a more advanced technology of return feedback.
PlayStation 5 VR
According to unconfirmed information for the PS5, VR glasses with much more modern parameters will appear. Recall that the original headset had a resolution of only 1920×1080 (960×1080 for each eye) and a viewing angle of 100 °. The only thing that was at the level was the refresh rate of 90-120 Hz. The first generation of glasses is connected through a massive processor unit, we hope that in the new generation it will be possible to use only one connector in the console, and ideally a wireless unit.
It is predicted that glasses can get 2 separate displays, each with a resolution of 2432×2160, which is 5 times more than its predecessor. I also want to believe that the viewing angles will also be improved, at least to 150-160 °.
The original version of the headset was sold in millions of copies, so the release of new VR glasses is only a matter of time. In addition, we recently were able to make sure that VR technology has room to grow, the game Half-Life: Alyx showed that the environment can be made truly interactive.
Backward compatibility and starting line of games
Sony’s backward compatibility is not doing so well. The new console from Microsoft will allow you to run games not only with the Xbox One, but also with the Xbox 360, it is even possible to support the very first Xbox console. And it will not just be launched as is, but also with many improvements, such as tightened resolution and the use of HDR. But back to Sony, the company claims to be able to run games only with the PS4 and PS4 Pro. At the start of the console, about 100 titles will be supported. In addition, the first year of the console’s life will be transitional, games will be released on both generations of consoles, most likely that initially we will get only a “slightly improved” PS4 Pro mode.
Such limited support may be due to the fact that the architecture of Sony consoles is much more complicated. To recall the same Cell processor in PS3, game developers curbed it only at the end of the console’s life cycle, before that the Xbox 360 showed the best picture quality.
Games of a completely new generation can be expected no earlier than 2021. If there will be games at the start of sales, then by their quality they will leave not far from the PS4 Pro.
Price and Release Date
Sony is still optimistic in its intentions to release a console before the Christmas holidays, namely in October-November 2020. This is very important from a financial point of view, since the peak of sales falls precisely at this time.
As for the price, then most likely it will be $ 500, which should be an advantage. Although the PS4 came out with a price tag of $ 400, the new generation will be definitely more expensive, at least because Sony and Microsoft have switched to using expensive solid state drives. Judging by the fact that the Xbox Series X will have a more productive filling and a more capacious drive, most likely its price will be slightly higher, around $ 550-600, so the PS5 will be in a better position.