Sony has unveiled the full specifications for the PlayStation 5, and it’s a momentous evolution from the PlayStation 4 and Playstation 4 Pro (via Eurogamer).

Here’s what’s need to know, first and foremost: 

  • CPU - 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz (variable frequency)
  • GPU - 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency)
  • GPU architecture - Custom RDNA 2
  • Memory/interface - 16GB GDDR6/256-bit
  • Memory bandwidth - 448GB/s
  • Internal storage - Custom 825GB SSD
  • IO throughput - 5.5GB/s (Raw), Typical 8-9GB/s (Compressed)
  • Expandable storage - NVMe SSD Slot
  • External storage - USB HDD Support
  • Optical drive - 4K UHD Blu-ray Drive

The SSD is mega, and lead architect Mark Cerny said that time and time again, developers were asking for a SSD to fully utilise the hardware for their vision. In addition, it reads 5.5 gigabytes per second (the PS4 only reads 50 to 100 megabytes per second) so it will fill the system’s 16GB of GDDR6 RAM in two seconds. The PS5 has fewer teraflops at its disposal than the Xbox Series X, but Cerny explained that teraflop numbers are a “dangerous” method to measure hardware performance. Yet, the PS5 and the Xbox Series X are relying on AMD’s CPUs and GPUs, so it is still a valid comparison.

And, the variable frequencies will allow the CPU to increase and decrease its speed when required—this is termed boost. “Rather than look at the actual temperature of the silicon die, we look at the activities that the GPU and CPU are performing and set the frequencies on that basis - which makes everything deterministic and repeatable,” said Cerny. “While we’re at it, we also use AMD’s SmartShift technology and send any unused power from the CPU to the GPU so it can squeeze out a few more pixels.”

The set power budget for the PS5 should reduce the risk of overheating despite these variable and impressive speeds. But, how does the PS5 cool down? Cerny’s keeping mum for now: “I think you'll be quite happy with what the engineering team came up with.”

Moreover, the PS5 is using a new bit of 3D audio hardware, titled the Tempest engine. It was important to Sony to deliver high-quality audio to all players, no matter if they were using a sound bar, or their headphones, or their monitor’s speakers. To exemplify this, Cerny cited the sound of rain in games. Instead of only one sound effect, the Tempest engine will try to create the impression of being in a tempest in “simulating the sound of individual raindrops hitting the ground around you.”

The complexity of this technology has actually worked with the shape of the human ear and the human head to generate this immersion. Sony has modelled Head-related Transfer Functions for approximately a hundred people to formulate five presets for launch. Cerny’s tried this out, and he’s been tricked into thinking a noise was coming from his surroundings, when it was really simulated by the Tempest engine.

Right, that was a lot of letters and numbers. To sum up, the PS5 is powerful, leading the way with the custom chunky SSD and eight to nine gigabytes per second of compressed throughput. Nevertheless, the Xbox Series X has a higher GDDR6 memory bandwidth and higher teraflop number. It’s still all to play for in the coming months, and both consoles are offering different experiences for the next generation. 

The PlayStation 5 launches in holiday 2020.

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