Well this marks one of the first PS5 reveals to come, many are probably disappointed by the technical nature of the release, but that’s expected since this was slated for GDC. Although we will try our best to break it down for you.
CPU and GPU – The Core Hardware
Again this will sound familiar, we have a custom Zen 2 CPU with 8 Cores and 16 Threads. The CPU Cores are capped at a frequency of 3.5GHz and the interesting bit here is the use of boost clocks on the console and it’s nature.
Unlike in a PC where components boost according to the available thermal headroom, the PS5 uses a power budget system and the frequency is set on the given workload. So all in all “all PS5 consoles process the same workloads with the same performance level in any environment, no matter what the ambient temperature may be.”
This is all maintained with the help of an Internal monitor which analyses the burden on both the CPU and the GPU and adjusts the clockspeeds accordingly. This is quite different from Microsoft’s implementation on the Series X which is more locked down compared to the PS5, Sony’s particular approach here gives more control to the devs.
On the GPU side of things, Sony is using a RDNA 2 based solution with 36CUs. It’s also equipped with 16GBs of GDDR6 memory on a 256-bit bus. The GPU clocks up to 2.23GHz, which is an impressive number and definitely higher than what most of us anticipated. Sony states that this setup churns out 10.2TFLOPs of peak compute performance.
Yes, the PS5 will also have support for hardware-accelerated Ray-Tracing using its intersection engine. Some people speculated a custom hardware solution, but that’s not the case, all this is baked into the GPU block.
Storage – SSDs’ All The Way!
Like the Xbox Series X, The PlayStation 5 would have a custom SSD built-in. The conductor of the conference, Mark Cerny explained how they aim to reduce load times, make sure the SSD functions like no other in the market and avoids any and all kinds of bottlenecks. The key thing he tried to explain in a, modestly speaking, quite technical explanation, was that they wanted a flawless atmosphere, which allows for easy game streaming as well.
The SSD would be a custom one, working on a PCIe 4.0 generation platform. This would, as he claimed, achieve speeds at about 5.5 GB/s. In contrast, the current HDD supported somewhere around 40-50 MB/s. He claimed that this technology would allow for a GB worth of data to be loaded in 0.27 seconds. This would be much faster than that of the PS4 hard drive, the time for which is about 20 seconds.
He then dove into what makes this interesting. They added a flash controller which would help the SSD work better with the RAM. This would mean that while with the HDD, most of the RAM was idle, the SSD would have every bit of data engaged. This actually helps in a very smooth functionality.
Finally, console owners will be able to shut down the PC users. While not at the same level, consoles have started allowing modularity. We saw it in the Xbox Series X video as well. With the PS5, Mark commented on the entire I/O that the storage module is built upon. According to him, there is a set of processors that would allow for an external drive to work just as well as the internal one. There is one catch though, the drive would have to match the speeds of the internal one. He went on to explain that the PCIe 3.0 drives would not be compatible. Also, these drives would be fitting into M.2 slots and thus compatibility would be seen that way. Currently, he didn’t list down any supported ones but according to Mark, the company would, after the launch, give more details about the drives. Thus he recommended not going to buy drives at the time of the launch. The launch- at least something he confirmed by not being completely vague, would be at the year’s end.
The hardware without doubt is exceptional and the guys over at AMD are the real heroes here, but we did expect this to happen. I feel the real generational leap in experience is going to come from the improved storage these new consoles pack.
Hardware is certainly important but if you want to the sell the whole idea of next generation, it has to be in a very tangible sense and these gains would actually be more realized with vastly improved storages and both Sony and Microsoft did just that.
Sadly though, Sony refrained from showing any actual pictures of the PS5, which has also been a topic of speculation for quite a while. Hopefully we will know more about the actual physical unit and the launch titles in the upcoming months.