Sony confirms PlayStation 5 will support 8K graphics and ray tracing
Sony finally reveals details on the PlayStation 5
Note: This article was first published on 17th April 2019.
Sony has dropped a huge sneak peek at the PS4’s successor, finally detailing their plans for the next generation of consoles. In an interview with WIRED, Mark Cerny revealed some rather tantalising information on the next generation of Sony’s console hardware. Cerny acts as lead system architect for this coming system, reprising the role he played in the development of the PS4.
On the hardware front, Cerny stated that the PS5 will boast a CPU based on AMD’s Ryzen line, containing eight cores of the company’s new 7nm Zen 2 microarchitecture. Alongside it is a custom GPU based on Radeon’s Navi family. It’s a lot to swallow, but fortunately Cerny continued to expand on the promise these hardware additions hold for the PS5, including its support for ray-tracing.
Ray tracing is a rendering technique that generates images by tracing a path of light and simulating the effects of its interactions in a 3D environment. Simply put, it promises even more graphical fidelity, although Cerny didn’t stop there. He claimed that the implementation of ray tracing can bring new benefits to audio, by allowing developers to run tests on making new ways for audio to travel back and forth from characters and their surrounding environments in games.
Cerny promised a much bigger leap in audio improvements overall from the PS4 to the PS5, compared to the meagre improvements the PS4 made over the PS3. In line with this, the AMD chip also includes a custom unit for 3D audio, which Cerny seems confident will redefine how games sound to the player.
The other exciting piece of information Cerny excitedly dropped was that the PS5 will use a new hard drive - a specialised solid-state drive (SSD), to be exact. Cerny went on to demonstrate the power the SSD provides by showcasing the load times needed to fast travel in 2018’s Spider-Man. On the PS4, fast travelling from one location to another takes 15 seconds, but on a next-gen devkit (noted to be an early, low-speed version), fast travelling only takes 0.8 seconds.
The benefits an SSD brings to the PS5 couldn’t possibly stop there, and Cerny ups the ante by saying that even character movement speed in games will be affected by the new hard drive. With the PS4 only able to render Spider-Man’s world at a certain speed, Spider-Man can only swing through New York so quickly. On the devkit, Cerny demonstrates that with the SSD, you become a pilot, and Spider-Man turns into a fighter jet flying through Manhattan at impossible speeds.
Besides all this, the PS5 will also herald the most widely asked for feature for Sony’s next generation of consoles: Backwards compatibility for the PS4. All previously owned games on the PS4 will still be playable on the PS5. It also won’t be following in Stadia’s footsteps by going fully digital, instead it will accept physical media as every previous generation before it has. Cerny also noted that the PS5 will provide support for 8K graphics, as well as support the current generation of Sony’s PSVR line.
Unfortunately, Cerny confirms that the PS5 won’t be released in 2019. He insists it’s not an upgrade that they’ve been building for 4 years now, but a proper successor to the previous generation. In fact, Sony has began deploying devkits at a quicker rate now, to give developers more time to adjust to the next-gen’s new hardware capabilities. He also promises a gentle transition between console generations, with some upcoming games being released on both the PS4 and the PS5. On which games however, mum’s the word.
Interestingly enough, Cerny doesn’t refer to Sony’s next generation of consoles as ‘The PS5’, only ‘the next-gen console’. One has to wonder what other names Sony might be mulling over at the moment. PS4.9, perhaps?