Sony has shed some light on what its next-generation PlayStation console will have to offer fans who have been waiting for the successor to the best-selling console of its generation in the PS4. Previous PS5 details have been rumored to leak prior to Sony's official statement, but this is the first time that the company has gone on record to detail some of the critical features of its upcoming console.
The PlayStation 5 will have a lot to live up to whenever it makes its first appearance at retail locations. The PS4 was a dominant force in the console market for nearly the entirety of its lifespan, with Sony remaining so confident in the product's viability in the closing months of this current generation of devices that the company has remained reticent to partner with competitors even as it becomes an increasingly more common element of the industry. With that said, though, other companies like Google have begun to move in on the market with innovative technology, and the need for a next-gen console with the capability to withstand tougher competition is a necessity for Sony.
In an interview with Wired, the lead system architect behind Sony's next-gen console, Mark Cerny, discussed details on the components that will power the device. Cerny didn't explicitly refer to the console as the PlayStation 5 so, no, fans don't have an official title to refer to the console with yet, although the company's naming conventions in the past do hint strongly that it will inevitably be what we all expect it to be. More importantly, though, Cerny confirmed that the next-gen console will be at least partially based on PS4 architecture, which means two things: it is not an all-digital device, which means fans can still use physical discs to play its games, and it is also backward compatible. The latter will surely be a huge selling point in the transition between the two devices, which Cerny described as being a "gentle one", suggesting that many games will be released for both PS4 and PS5 during the early life cycle of the next-gen console.
The PlayStation 5's hardware will start with an AMD chip that has a CPU based on Ryzen's third-gen technology, and will have eight cores of the Zen 2 microchip. The console will support 8K resolution, and its graphics will be driven by a custom variant of Radeon's Navi graphics chip line. The chip is notable for supporting ray tracing, a nascent technological advancement that is beginning to gain traction in movies and video games as a lighting technique but could serve to bolster audio design, according to Cerny. The PlayStation 5's biggest get might be a new SSD drive that drastically reduces load times on console. Cerny used Insomniac's stellar Spider-Man game as an example: on a PS4 Pro, a load sequence would take about 15 seconds, while on a dev kit of the PlayStation 5, it took a mere 0.8 seconds instead. Cerny's biggest claim, though, is that the new SSD has a raw bandwidth higher than any SSD currently available for PCs. That would be massive for Sony—and the industry in general, since the tech seems objectively impressive at that point—although Cerny did not discuss who manufactured the SSD or any details on its technology.
PSVR tech appears to be a major focus for the PlayStation 5 as well, with Cerny also commenting on the fact that the console will enable 3D audio. According to Cerny, the current iteration of the PSVR headset will be supported by the PlayStation 5, although he did not commit to whether or not a newer version of the hardware would be released with the new console.
That's a lot of information to take in, so perhaps it's a blessing in disguise that Cerny didn't also provide details on when the PlayStation 5 will actually be unveiled. Usually, we can expect a console unveiling to take place at a big event like E3, but Sony is skipping the event this year. The PlayStation Experience seems like a likely candidate at that point, but there's also the chance that we won't be seeing the next-gen console at all this year, and that Sony is giving fans a taste of what to expect in 2020 instead.