We’ve known for quite some time now that the next PlayStation is on the way, but today we received an unexpected update. Rather than revealing PlayStation 5 (name unofficial) details during a State of Play video or at E3 (which Sony isn’t attending), architect Mark Cerny decided to spill the beans by inviting Wired to come check out a development kit and learn about its hardware.
Although we don’t know the console’s name or what it will look like, Cerny revealed a surprising amount of detail about its inner workings. For starters, Sony is promising a “true generational shift,” and not merely another stopgap upgrade like the PlayStation 4 Pro. However, it will still be backwards compatible with PlayStation 4 games.
Their next console will be powered by a CPU that is “based on the third generation of AMD’s Ryzen line and contains eight cores of the company’s new 7nm Zen 2 microarchitecture.” Meanwhile, the GPU is a custom variant of Radeon’s Navi family. One of its big upsides is that it will support ray tracing, greatly increasing the realistic types of lighting it can produce.
The AMD chip is also equipped with “a custom unit for 3D audio that Cerny thinks will redefine what sound can do in a videogame.” Cerny claims this will be a massive leap in sound quality, as opposed to the “frustration” of how little PlayStation 4’s audio improved over PlayStation 3’s. Cerny believes Sony’s next console will offer a much more immersive experience.
Sony’s next big reveal is a feature that Cerny calls “the key to the next generation.” Sony’s next console will feature an SSD that has “a raw bandwidth higher than any SSD available for PCs.” Cerny demonstrated its speed by running Insomniac’s Spider-Man game on both a PlayStation 4 and the next-gen dev kit to test load times. Fast traveling took around 15 seconds on PlayStation 4, but less than one second on the new hardware.
Cerny went on to explain that an even bigger benefit is the rate at which worlds can be generated, which he once again put to the test with a PlayStation 4 and the next-gen console side by side. Cerny explained that Spidey’s max swinging speed is capped by the PlayStation 4’s loading capabilities. In other words, if Spidey were to swing any faster, he’d be swinging into a barren, unloaded New York. On the new hardware, the camera zips through the game “like it’s mounted to a fighter jet,” with Cerny periodically pausing to prove that the demo still looks good when stopped. The demo took place on a 4K TV, but Cerny says the new hardware will be compatible with 8K TVs as well.
Sony declined to discuss software, services, and various other features during this meeting. He confirmed that the next console will not launch in 2019, but no true release window was given. Unsurprisingly, Cerny also stopped short of revealing a price tag. Given that it’s not coming this year, Sony still has plenty of time to solidify and unveil all of those details.