Sony Interactive Entertainment announced the technical specifications for PlayStation 5 in a “Road to PS5” deep dive presentation by lead system architect Mark Cerny originally scheduled for Game Developers Conference 2020.
Watch “The Road to PS5” Presentation:
Here are the specifications compared to PlayStation 4, via Digital Foundry:
Here is the PlayStation Blog‘s official summary of the presentation:
“As Mark discussed in his presentation, PS5’s ultra-high-speed SSD and integrated custom I/O system were developed with the goal of removing barriers to play – specifically loading screens. Developers are able to stream assets into PS5 games at an incredibly fast rate, so PS5 play experiences can be seamless and dynamic, with near-instantaneous fast travel through large game worlds. This enhanced speed will enable game developers to create larger, richer worlds without traditional limitations, such as load times, and also allows gamers to spend more time gaming than waiting.
We also wanted to introduce new capabilities with PS5’s custom GPU. Additional GPU power will allow for higher resolution in games, but a major new feature that benefits the visuals of games even further is ray tracing. Ray tracing simulates the way light moves in real life, and how it bounces off various surfaces. Games that take advantage of this feature will render objects much more accurately, and with heightened realism. Water, glass, light refraction, a character’s hair and so on, will look even more realistic.
PS5 will also allow games to offer a much deeper sense of immersion through 3D audio. Visuals are of course imperative to the gaming experience, but we believe audio plays a crucial role as well. We wanted to deliver a compelling audio experience for all users, not just those who own high-end speaker systems. So we designed and built a custom engine for 3D audio that is equipped with the power and efficiency for ideal audio rendering. With 3D audio on PS5, the sounds you hear while playing will offer a greater sense of presence and locality. You’ll be able to hear raindrops hitting different surfaces all around you, and you can hear and precisely locate where an enemy is lurking behind you.
Lastly, we’re excited to confirm that the backwards compatibility features are working well. We recently took a look at the top 100 PS4 titles as ranked by play time, and we’re expecting almost all of them to be playable at launch on PS5. With more than 4,000 games published on PS4, we will continue the testing process and expand backwards compatibility coverage over time.”
It should be noted on that last point about backwards compatibility that there is a bit of a discrepancy between the PlayStation Blog summary and what Cerny said. In the video, Cerny seems to be speaking specifically in reference to the “Boost” feature on PlayStation 4 titles. He said, “Running PS4 and PS4 titles at boosted frequencies has also added complexity. The boost is truly massive this time around and some game code just can’t handle it. Testing has to be done on a title-by-title basis. Results are excellent, though. We recently took a look at the top 100 PlayStation 4 titles as ranked by play time and we’re expecting all of them to be playable at launch on PlayStation 5.”
Digital Foundry also published a full breakdown of the presentation, which goes into detail on the hardware’s “Boost” feature, the graphics core, the solid state drive, expandable storage, and 3D audio delivered via the new Tempest Engine.
Other tidbits of note from the presentation include:
- Whereas PlayStation 4 loaded one gigabyte in 20 seconds (with 50 to 100 megabytes per second bandwidth and two to 50 miliseconds seek time), PlayStation 5 is targeting load times of two gigabytes in 0.27 seconds (with at least five gigabytes per second bandwidth and instantaneous seek time)
- Users will also be able to hook up an external hard drive loaded with PlayStation 4 games to run on PlayStation 5.
- PlayStation 5 supports certain M2 drives for storage expansion. Sony Interactive Entertainment will announce which drives physically fit and which benchmark appropriately high in testing, likely sometime “a bit past” launch.
PlayStation 5 is due out this holiday season.