Today, Sony has finally unveiled the PS5's hardware specifications. Nothing was announced for the PS5's games, as this was deep dive into the hardware powering Sony's new console.
There were a lot of topics within Mark Cerny's presentation. He talked about the PlayStation 5's 'boost', its graphics capabilities, the SSD, and its audio capabilities. Let's start with the boost.
The 'boost' feature is, in fact, a boost (shocker) to the PS5's performance. However, it's unlike what you would normally find in smartphones or in CPUs and GPUs. Instead, the PS5 has a budget of power that's tied to the thermal limits of its cooling assembly. Instead of running at a constant frequency and changing the power, the PS5 will instead run at constant power and let the PS5 decide the frequency based on its workload. It will look at the activities that the GPU and CPU are performing and set its frequencies on that basis.
Compared to the beast that is the Xbox's new GPU, the PS5 is described as a "more nimble, more agile GPU... [which] should be able to deliver performance higher than what you may expect".
In regards to the graphics, Cerny told Eurogamer that he expects the big boy AAA games to force the PS5 to run at a lower clock speed. It won't be too much lower though, with power reduced by 10 percent and a couple of percentage drops in frequency, so downclocking as a whole would most likely be "pretty minor".
Perhaps most of all, the SSD is integral to the PS5. Every 2 years Mark Cerny travels the world and meets different developers and publishers. For next-gen, having an SSD was the number one request. The results are staggering, as 2 GB of data can be loaded in a quarter of a second, with the PS5's 16 GB of RAM theoretically being filled in two seconds. So, instead of having to disguise loading screens in games such as Spider-Man with its subway rides, games can now be loaded so fast that developers "... might have to slow that transition down".
As the PlayStation 5 is backward compatible (yay!) questions arise about storage. Well, PS5 games will need the SSD, but older games don't, so you can use your standard external storage devices and store all of your old games on it. Basically, Eurogamer said it best: "don't buy an [expensive] NVMe drive without Sony validation if you plan to use it in PlayStation 5." Essentially, use your old drives and SSDs for now and wait for new drives to release if you want to expand your internal space on the PS5.
Last but not least, the 'Tempest Engine' was talked about, which introduces 'unprecedented' 3D audio fidelity. How does it work? Picture everyday rain. It's a single, universal sound in most games or media experiences. For the PS5, it will try to capture the feeling of being in the middle of the rain. It does this by simulating the sound of individual raindrops hitting the ground all around you as you play. It's amazing stuff, and it looks like Sony went all-in on the audio, with 5 presets for different people with different types of ears if they want the best overall audio experience.
All in all, this is very interesting. The PS5 isn't as powerful as the Xbox, but that doesn't mean Sony is resting on its laurels. This generation will have two heavyweights, which we haven't seen since the PS3 and Xbox 360 era. With backwards compatibility guaranteed (at least to some extent) it's a very exciting time to be a gamer.
What do you think of this news? Are you buying a PS5 or an Xbox Series X? Let us know in the comments!