Sony finally unveils PlayStation 5 details

The PlayStation 5 warranted little more than a mention when it was introduced at CES back in January. Sony was planning a much bigger reveal in a few weeks at GDC in SF, but, well, COVID-19 happened. So here we are with a live-streamed version of the event, offering far and away the deepest dive into the next-gen console.

Lead system architect Mark Cerny kicked off a low key presentation to a small gathering of people — a direct response to on-going social distancing concerns. The event did, indeed go deep, at Cerny discussed how Sony enabled the 5GB/s SSD — the most requested new feature from developers. The system is said to potentially be nearly 100x faster than the PS4’s I/O. 

The company also dumped a number of technical details for the forthcoming system, beginning to bring the PS5 up to speed with the Xbox Series X. Along with the new ultra-high-speed SDD, the system will sport a custom AMD GPU with ray tracing, and, as is Sony’s wont, 3D audio, for an improved multimedia home entertainment offering. As with the Xbox, there will be backwards compatibility — specifically with the PS4. 

The CPU is an AMD’s Zen 2, with eight cores at 3.5GHz, while the GPU is based on AMD’s RDNA 2 architecture. The later offers 10.28 teraflops of compute power, by way of 36 CUs. There’s 16GB of memory on board, coupled with 825GB of solid state storage. Also on board is the new boost feature, designed to better regulate power consumption and heat on the system.

Per Cerny, rather than focusing on the temperature itself, the system monitors “the activities that the GPU and CPU are performing and set the frequencies on that basis .” The specifics of system cooling is one of several features the company is promising to reveal in further detail in a future “teardown” of the system.

3D audio was covered in the “Finding New Dreams” segment. Cerny pointed out that audio is often a bit of an afterthought on systems that are focused on graphics first. He added that it certainly applied to the PS4. The 5, meanwhile, is focused on bringing a version of PSVR’s immersive audio to the new system, adding things like presence and locality to the console. The company promises to offer much improved virtual surround sound, even on less advanced home stereo systems and headphones.

As with the new Xbox, the system is due out at the end of the year. Clearly Sony is just scratching the surface here. There’s still plenty of stuff left to announce between now and the holidays. Game play, anyone?