By Robert Jones
Price, release date, specs and news info for Sony’s PlayStation PS5 video game console.
An official PlayStation 5 event was held today at 9am Pacific Time(about 4pm in the UK) promising to go “under the hood” on the PS5’s specs and features, with the event livestreamed on the PlayStation Blog and YouTube.
The event was fronted by the PlayStation 5’s lead system architect Mark Cerny, and what he revealed can be watched directly below.
Following the official PS5 event video, is an in-brief rundown of what was revealed, followed by everything we already know about the PlayStation 5 console to date.
SONY PS5 EVENT: WHAT’S BEEN ANNOUNCED SO FAR
Mark Cerny takes to the stage first and starts talking about console design. The PS5 is based around three principals. Number 1 is listening to developers. Once every two years Mark Cerny takes a tour of the developers, apparently, and it requires weeks on the road. It is incredibly value, though. The number one ask by developers with PS5 was an SSD.
Balancing evolution and revolution is the second principal. Cerny notes that consoles need to move forward in terms of hardware and abilities, but that they need it to still be approachable in terms of making games. Reducing “dead time” to zero is important for Cerny. With PlayStation 5 getting up to speed will take roughly a month for developers.
Finding new dreams is the third principal. Custom engine for audio in the PS5 is a good example of this, apparently. Cerny says he will talk more about this later.
Cerny moves on to talking about SSD loading speeds. Compression ratios are discussed, as well as hard drives and Blu-ray discs. 1GB is roughly 20 seconds to load from a HDD, according to Cerny. This is why load times on PS4 can be rough.
If we could load 5GB a second from an SSD, Cerny asks, what would be possible going forward in video games. 2GB can loaded in 0.27 seconds on an SSD. This means there is no loading screens.
The primary reason for an ultra fast SSD, though, isn’t just about loading times. It is about giving developers freedom when creating games — you don’t want loading screens getting in the way of awesome virtual worlds. You also have hard limits imposed on the player in the game, who can’t move faster than the HDD dictates.
SSD’s improve game patch installs, too. The SSD on the PS5 is, according to Cerny, 100x faster. Cerny is now talking about overheads. There is Custom Flash Controller in the PS5 to help this, to ensure no bottlenecks. Priority requests are very important in games, and this controller helps deliver these. 5.5GB/s is the bandwidth the PS5 is capable of — nice!
The PS5 uses the Kraken model of compression, which differs from the system used on PS4. The custom decompressor can output up to 22GB theoretically. There is also a dedicated DMA controller and two I/O co-processors. Coherency engines are also present in the PS5’s main custom chipset, as well as cache scrubbers.
The Sony PS5 is going to support external hard disc drives. Cerny also confirms that the Sony PS5 will support M2 SSD drives, meaning people can increase their storage. These SSDs need to be as fast as the stock PS5 SSD though to work, so 5.5GB/s. M2 PCIe 4.0 SSDs are coming that support up to 7GB/s.
Cerny says don’t buy an M2 drive until later in the year to ensure compatibility. Ok, Mark!
GPUs are up next. The PS5 GPU needs to run PlayStation 4 games, which it can do thanks to some awesome work from AMD. The GPU supports ray tracing. It is a custom RDNA 2 chip from AMD, which is optimised for performance. We have our own needs for PlayStation, says Cerny, and AMD helped with this when working on PS5. Those cache scrubbers are mentioned again as a good example of this.
The PS5’s custom chips has the logic and feature set that the PS4 and PS4 Pro used, meaning that backwards compatibility is definitely in the new console, and shouldn’t be costly. Results are excellent, though, says Cerny. They tested the top 100 games played on PS4 by play time and they all ran perfectly on PS5. That’s great news!
The PS5 has a new Geometry Engine. This can help performance optimisation with primitive shaders, which is a new tech. Improvement to particle and special effects are one benefit of using these shaders.
The inter-section engine is now introduced, with BVH Acceleration Structure mentioned. This is all about the PS5’s ray tracing abilities. Cerny says there is no need to use ray tracing, but it will be available. Audio, global illumination, shadows, reflections and full ray tracing are potentials for the PS5’s ray tracing tech.
Now Cerny moves onto frequencies. Cerny likes running tech fast, but you have to factor in heat and power consumption. For PS4 they tried to model for a worst case scenario in terms of heat and power draw. This works if the console is quite and cool while playing, and doesn’t if it is hot and loud.
On PS5 Sony has gone a different direction. It has a variable frequency strategy, which means the CPU and GPU are permanently run in boost mode, but the frequency changes. This means the power draw doesn’t change, but the frequency does. As such, Sony doesn’t need to guess at the worst case scenario in terms of power draw in games going forward.
With the new flexible frequency strat the GPU is capped at 2.23 GHz, which translates as 10.3 teraflops of gaming power.
The CPU on the PS5 is capped at 3.5GHz.
Cerny now moves onto the final “finding new dreams” principal part of his presentation.
He stresses the importance of audio in games. The goals for audio on PS5 was, firstly, great audio for all gamers, secondly, audio dimensionality, and thirdly presence and locality (as in, you are actually there in the game). How do we know where sound is coming from in the first place, though, Cerny asks. Volume changes and phase shifts is the answer.
Cerny now talks about computation complexity and the PS5’s custom 3D audio unit. Tempest 3D AudioTech is the official name for the idea, and the hardware is called the Tempest Engine. It has SPU-like architecture and GPU parallelism, meaning it can deal with complex audio processing and, crucially, can generate 3D audio affects for all gamers, regardless of how they are listening (headphones, soundbar, TV speakers etc).
And, that was it. So, we didn’t see the PS5 unveiled but we did get some very detailed information on the PS5’s SSD, GPU and custom 3D audio processor. Hopefully we will get more information, as well as that all important what the console actually looks like, sooner rather than later.
PLAYSTATION 5: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR
As well as an official PS5 release date window, we’ve also got an absolute ton of official details already in the bag, as revealed by Cerny in April last year, and you can consider our appetite well and truly whetted for what the PlayStation 5 is going to bring with it.
For the absolute latest on the PlayStation 5 release date, price, specs, design, features or anything else about the super-powerful video gaming machine, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve even got a fantastically detailed guide to some of the PS5 games gamers can look forward to playing on the new console, too.
We’ve even got the latest analysis on whether or not the PS5 will be a match for Microsoft’s next Xbox flagship, the Xbox Series X.
We start, though, with a list of all the official PS5 information we’ve already received.
In April 2019, tech site Wired published an exclusive interview and briefing with PS5 lead system architect Mark Cerny that contained official announcements about the PlayStation 5. These included:
1.) Cerny confirmed that Sony’s “next-gen console” will not launch in 2019 (we now know 2020 is the release window). He did not refer to the console as the PS5 or PlayStation 5, although Sony’s traditional console naming system would indicate that is what it will be called.
2.) Cerny confirmed that the PS5’s CPU is based on the third generation of AMD’s Ryzen line of processors and features eight cores of the firm’s new 7nm Zen 2 microarchitecture.
3.) The PlayStation 5’s GPU has been confirmed by Cerny as a custom variant of Radeon’s Navi family and will support ray tracing (a next-gen lighting technique that models the travel of light in complex game worlds).
4.) Cerny also confirmed the AMD chip in the PS5 has a custom 3D audio unit that will deliver far more immersive in-game sound.
5.) The PlayStation VR headset will be compatible with the PS5 and, although Cerny would not comment on whether a new PSVR headset was incoming, he did say that “VR is very important to us”.
6.) Cerny confirmed the PlayStation 5 would come installed with an SSD out of the box, and then demoed a PS5 dev kit loading the game Spider-Man, which was shown to load eighteen times faster than on PS4.
7.) Cerny confirmed that thanks to the new SSD, the PS5 would be able to render 2D worlds much faster than PS4, too, meaning that gamers will get larger game worlds and be able to move through them faster while fidelity is maintained.
8.) Cerny confirmed that the PlayStation 5 will support 8K graphics, although in what capacity and if that will be native 8K remains to be seen.
9.) Since Cerny’s announcements, Sony has confirmed exactly what the PlayStation 5 logo will be.
10.) Sony has confirmed that the PS5 will not be shown off at E3 2020, stating that:
“After thorough evaluation SIE has decided not to participate in E3 2020. We will build upon our global events strategy in 2020 by participating in hundreds of consumer events across the globe. Our focus is on making sure fans feel part of the PlayStation family and have access to play their favourite content. We have a fantastic line up of titles coming to PlayStation 4, and with the upcoming launch of PlayStation 5, we are truly looking forward to a year of celebration with our fans.”
SONY PS5 RELEASE DATE
Having previously said that there will be no PS5 before May 2020, Sony has now confirmed that the PlayStation 5 is going to arrive in November or December 2020 – just in time for the holiday shopping season. If you’re in the Netherlands, you can even get a preorder in.
That makes sense, really: the PlayStation 3 came out in 2006, and was followed by the PlayStation 4 in 2013, and rumours have been circulating for months that the PlayStation 5 would launch around 2020. Respected Sony analyst Hideki Yasuda has previously pegged the launch date of the PS5 as November 2020.
In terms of when we will actually get to see the console, well, that has been called by many respected commentators, and even by famous God of War developer David Jaffe, as taking place in February 2020 at a PlayStation event in New York City.
Taking to Twitter, Jaffe stated that “PS5 reveal is less than 4 weeks away. Sony knows hard core gamers are hanging on every scrap of info and know that just cause MSFT dominates the conversation at the moment, that’s an easy thing to change when they are ready to reveal (assuming the reveal is good).”
SONY PS5 PRICE
When the PS5 does finally break cover, how much is it going to set you back? Is it going to be worth the investment?
Well, the most recent prediction on the PS5 price is that it will cost $499 in the U.S. and £449 in the UK. And that figure tallies up with respected analyst predictions of a $499 price point from last year. It’s still just a rumour, though, but it’s one we’ve heard from several sources.
Is that price going to be accurate, though, and will it be a success for Sony? First, consider the cost of PlayStations past – the PlayStation 4 originally debuted for £349.99/$399.99 and when it was reinvented as the PS4 Slim it began selling for £259.99/$299.99 and up.
The more powerful PlayStation 4 Pro, on the other hand, launched with a price of £349.99/$399.99, matching the original PS4 on that score – though you can now get all kinds of bundle offers and discounts on various flavours of the PS4 console.
All three of those PS4 consoles have enjoyed strong sales to date.
Go back a bit further, though, and gamers will no-doubt remember that the Sony PS3 originally went on sale in the U.S. at a whopping $600, and at an equally steep £425 in the UK, which at the time was even more expensive than it sounds today.
And, to be very clear, that console did not sell well out of the gate, not at all.
As such, the big question is whether Sony can hit the £449.99/$499.99 price point or lower with the PlayStation 5? We’d say it’s more likely that the final PS5 price will be £449.99, rising to £499.99 with a game included, though Sony will of course want to keep the hardware as affordable as it can for gamers and protect that huge install base lead it currently has.
Speaking of affordability, there is a rumour that the PS5 might well be followed by an all-digital, download and streaming focused console (like the next Xbox Series is expected to). Microsoft launched its all-digital, disc-less Xbox One S don’t forget, and an all-digital PS5 model might follow suit.
SONY PS5 DESIGN
The most recent depiction of the PS5 console we’ve seen comes via Twitter user @xTHAFINESTx, who posted up a brace of renders of a PlayStation 5 in both black and white colourways. Despite only offering one angle to view the system, this depiction is one of the most understated and impressive we’ve seen to date.
Just before Twitter user @xTHAFINESTx posted up that PS5 concept render, gamer Dan Kuhl showed off a system he had built in the PS4 creation game Dreams based off what has been widely reported as the PlayStation 5 devkit.
The devkit first emerged in a Sony patent last year, and since then has been used as the basis for many concept renders and console designs. The most famous devkit render comes courtesy of LetsGoDigital. It’s kind of shaped like a Roman numeral V for 5, so make of that what you will.
Unfortunately we don’t have insider access to Sony’s design or engineering departments, but computing components continue to get faster, thinner, and smaller, so we’d be very surprised if the finished PS5 design was anywhere near that large and chunky.
Devkits famously look nothing like the finished system in most console cases, so even if that devkit is genuine, the PlayStation 5 will almost certainly not look like it.
It goes without saying that overall the PS5 should be smaller and sleeker, but even with increases in broadband speeds and the rise of streaming, we don’t expect the PS5 to go all-in on the cloud and shrink down to a tiny Blu-ray box set size – even with Google Stadia now on the scene.
Microsoft has now shown the world exactly what the Xbox Series X will look like, which is taking on a more novel tower design, so now the ball is very much back into Sony’s court. If we were to hazard a guess, though, then we think the Japanese maker will play it much safer, as it is coming from a position of market dominance and will want to make the transition for PS4 gamers as easy and as familiar as possible.
SONY PS5 SPECS
No surprises here: the PS5 is going to be fast. Very fast. It’s going to offer “dramatically increased graphics rendering speeds” according to an official Sony presentation. We know it’s going to include ray tracing capabilities and support for resolutions up to 8K as well.
That ray tracing feature has been confirmed by Sony itself. There has been talk that Sony is going to launch two versions of the PS5 at the same time, although it’s not clear how they might differ in terms of specs.
As the launch date draws closer, we’re hearing more and more official news about the specs inside the PlayStation 5 to go alongside the rumours – including patents to banish loading screens. We’ve also had it confirmed that a special power-saving mode is going to be built into the unit.
The PS5’s CPU is based on the third generation of AMD’s Ryzen line of processors and features eight cores of the firm’s new 7nm Zen 2 microarchitecture, while the PlayStation 5 GPU is a custom variant of Radeon’s Navi family and will support ray tracing.
This official confirmation makes sense as it was long-rumoured that next-generation AMD graphics tech was believed to be headed for the PS5, and that it had been in production for a while. Those rumours stated the system would use 7-nanometre chips and Navi, too.
Rumours also stated that Sony’s principal programmers were already hard at work on adapting AMD’s Ryzen technology, pointing to a major performance boost for the internal guts of the PS5. Based on leaked benchmarks, it looks as though the PS5 could offer four times the performance of the PS4.
If you want to know exactly how much faster the PS5 will be versus the PS4, this leaked video should give you some idea (it’s said to be up to 18x faster than its predecessor in some areas). If that doesn’t get you excited about what the PlayStation 5 might come packing, then nothing will.
Some proper flesh has just been added to those core PS5 component reveals, with a backed-up-with-numbers list of specifications apparently coming courtesy of an insider who infiltrated an official Sony meeting.
At the meeting the insider reportedly became privy to a spec sheet and, via a friend, the information was then leaked online. According to the spy’s dossier of info the PS5 will come with a:
“8 core Zen 2, clocked at 3.2Ghz.
Custom Navi GPU, 56CU, 1.8Ghz, 12.9TF. RT is hardware based, co engineered by AMD and Sony. (They believe the RT hardware is the basis for the rumour that Navi was built for Sony)
24GB RAM (Type or bandwidth wasn’t mentioned)
Custom embedded Solid State solution paired with HDD.”
Now this leak, while completely unsubstantiated, is interesting as it in part backs up one of earlier PS5 leaks we’ve seen (via the tweet above), which supposedly pulls back the curtain on the APU (Advanced Processing Unit) inside the PS5: it’s apparently called Gonzalo, and will offer an eight-core processor, a 3.2GHz clock speed, and a 1GHz GPU clock speed. In short, a significant improvement over the PS4 and the eight-cores claim tallies with what Cerny has officially revealed.
A separate GPU powered by AMD, as was rumoured, would certainly help the PS5 hit those 4K/60fps high notes, as well as allow the PS5 to offer 8K support in some manner. In terms of RAM we’re guessing we should expect at least double the 8GB installed in the PS4 Pro.
Oh, and as to that comment from Cerny that the PS5 will boast a new 3D audio unit, this rumour indicated improvements in the audio department were incoming months ago, so again that tallies well.
We’ve already spoken about multiple PS5 models, and we have heard some hints that a 5G-capable PlayStation Portable could be on the cards too. Sony definitely made mention of mobile devices in a recent user survey on the future of PlayStation, so it’s likely that we can look forward to more than one device appearing.
SONY PS5 GAMES
Top-tier PS5 games are sure to play a huge part in the launch of the PlayStation 5, whenever it happens to be, and there has been talk that PS5 development kits have been in the hands of some game studios for a while (see Sony’s own Bend Studio advertising a job calling for next-gen game console experience).
As we get into 2020, it now seems clear that all the Sony first-party games studios are now fully focused on the PS5, which means we should expect a solid suite of PS5 games come the console’s launch window. On top of some brand new titles, it sounds like some existing games will get PlayStation 5 updates as well.
The first game to get an official confirmation that it will be coming out as a PS5 exclusive is Godfall. A 74-second video trailer used by the game’s maker, Counterplay Games, shows how the game looked and ran at the start of 2019.
Also, based on a slip of the tongue from a Horizon Zero Dawn voice actor, it sounds as though a sequel to that PS4 smash hit is on the way. Horizon Zero Dawn 2 could well be one of the tentpole titles that launches alongside the PlayStation 5. A God of War sequel might well show up too.
Elsewhere, Call of Duty: Black Ops 5, Ghost of Tsushima , Final Fantasy VII Remake, The Elder Scrolls VI, Spider-Man 2, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, Sniper Elite 5, Assassin’s Creed: Kingdom, Uncharted 5, Dragon Age 4 and more are currently slated to be getting PS5 launches.
Comments from Sony Chief Executive Officer Kenichiro reported by the Wall Street Journal suggest that the PS5 will focus on top-tier AAA games rather than indie titles in an attempt to appeal to hardcore gamers – though we hope both blockbusters and indies will be supported by the console.
One other PS5 games rumour suggests PS4 games will be backwards compatible with the PlayStation 5. That’s based on a patent filed by Sony, and means you won’t have to throw out all your PS4 discs when your shiny new console turns up.
In fact, more recent rumours suggest you’ll be able to play any existing PlayStation game for any of the PS consoles – that’s a huge back catalogue. Sony itself has confirmed that PS4 gamers will be able to play against PS5 gamers too, so you can stay friends with players who haven’t yet upgraded.
Let’s not forget game streaming and online play either either. All the indications are that PlayStation Now will get an upgrade with the PS5, and that streaming games over-the-web is likely to at least be a part of the PlayStation 5 experience, no matter which model of the console you end up going for.
We’re also hearing that there might be a feature called PlayStation Assist, which uses artificial intelligence to guide you out of tight spots whenever you get stuck. That should make gaming less frustrating for some of us, at least.
Polish game publisher CD Projekt Red has already said it’s working on games with an eye on the next generation of consoles, which makes us think that Cyberpunk 2077 or something like it might be one of the first titles to hit the PS5, which is why we included it in our list PS5 games we’re looking forward to play.
E3 has given us a host of other upcoming titles that are likely to make it to Sony’s next-generation games console: The Elder Scrolls 6, the intriguing-sounding Starfield, and Beyond Good & Evil 2.
Flagship games don’t come much bigger than the Grand Theft Auto series, and considering GTA V came out in 2013 for the PlayStation 3 (later getting an update for the PS4), is it too much to hope that 2019 might be the year when Grand Theft Auto VI turns up?
Whatever games we see, they’re likely to break new ground in terms of realism and detail, thanks to the extra power of the PS5 and advances in software design. Those in the know say we’re not far off having games that look as good as the best Hollywood blockbusters, and that get rendered in real time.
There’s good news for cross-platform compatibility too: Sony exec Shawn Layden has said that we’re heading into a post-console world, where devices from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are more tightly integrated than ever before.
SONY PS5: OTHER RUMOURS
There are plenty of other rumours swirling about the Sony PlayStation 5. We’ve touched on virtual reality already, and it’s highly probable that Sony is working on version 2 of its PlayStation VR headset – this time though, all the necessary hardware should be built into the PS5, so you won’t need an extra box between headset and console.
Let’s not forget, too, that Mark Cerny himself has confirmed that the original PSVR headset will be compatible with the PS5.
There’s talk that the PlayStation Now streaming service is in line for an update at the same time as the PlayStation 5 arrives, but as yet we’re not sure everyone has the broadband capacity to stream 4K games into their living rooms.
Based on comments made by a former PlayStation boss, we’re going to see physical discs remain part of the console experience for the next generation of hardware. According to the CEO of Ubisoft, we’re going to see one more generation of traditional consoles before everything switches to the cloud.
That doesn’t mean Sony won’t dabble in it though – it’s partnered with an unlikely ally in Microsoft to work on next-generation streaming services. Expect a ‘Netflix-for-games’ platform to be among your options when the PS5 comes out. A cloud-based new PSP is also rumoured to debut as a companion console.
However, considering that Sony is currently exploring and developing blockchain technology, a technology that has gaming applications, the PS5 could also usher in a new age of second hand digital game sales and trades. The idea that a gamer could lend or trade a digitally purchased game licence is really exciting to us here at T3, and could finally help the industry move on from physical media.
SONY PS5: XBOX SERIES X BEATER?
Now that, for many gamers, is the million dollar question. Xbox boss Phil Spencer has said that Xbox Series X will “set the benchmark for console gaming”, and normally when you set a benchmark that means you have the most powerful set of results.
Key there, though, is just how the benchmark is set. Is it pure hardware numbers ripped from proprietary, in-house testing software? Is it how smooth games run in terms of framerate, or how crisp they are displayed in terms of resolution? Or, for example, is it how slick and game-filled they are in terms of ecosystem? Or how easy it is for developers to tap into that hardware (let’s not forget how the Sega Saturn’s difficult architecture contributed to its fast downfall).
Because, this is the thing, raw specs does not win a console generation. Console generations are won by games, and more specifically where gamers play their games. This is what Sony in the outgoing generation absolutely nailed it and, weirdly for a company that once did this perfectly with the Xbox 360, Microsoft completely dropped the ball with the Xbox One.
The PS4 range of consoles has gone on to sell twice as many systems as the Xbox One family of consoles because it focussed on delivering games, games and more games to its users. Sony’s focus on games and huge library of titles, specifically exclusives, during the PS4 era was absolutely first rate, and this meant that despite the Xbox One X technically being the king of consoles in terms of hardware specs and capabilities, overall Xbox still lost out to PlayStation.
Remember that push by Microsoft about Live TV and Kinect control, about how the Xbox One was going to be the hardware powerhouse media centre that would sit at the heart of all gamers’ setups? It didn’t matter one jot when it came to the crunch, and that crunch was what games could be played on the system, and how much it would cost to play them.
As such, while we think it fair to say that the Xbox Series X will, from what we’ve heard in the next-gen console rumour mill, will technically have the most impressive specs of the next-gen consoles, the difference will actually be very minor and, in the grand scheme of things, won’t make that much difference anyway.
The PS5 should find it very easy to get the Xbox Series X beaten during both console’s launch windows purely due to install base transference, and it should also carry a little momentum, too, from PlayStation VR, which even to this day Xbox cannot counter. Long-term, though, whether or not the PlayStation 5 wins the next-gen console war against Xbox Series X will largely be determined on ecosystem offerings, as well as how well all traditional console makers fend of the advance of new game-streaming services like Google Stadia.
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