Sony has wrapped up its roughly 50-minute, tech-heavy PlayStation 5 specs breakdown, which had originally been planned for Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2020 before its cancellation. And let’s be honest — the presentation as a whole probably went over the heads of most gamers, but that didn’t stop lead PlayStation 5 architect Mark Cerny from delivering an extremely detailed analysis of what developers will be working with when it comes to the next-gen console. Plus, there were some more digestible highlights to take note of, too.
In general, PlayStation 5 won’t quite pack the same graphical punch that Microsoft’s Xbox Series X will upon release. Sony’s new home console will sport 10.28 TFLOPs, an 825GB SSD, and a max CPU frequency of 3.5GHz. Comparatively, the Xbox Series X will support 12.155 teraflops, a 1TB SSD, and a max CPU frequency of 3.8 GHz. Both consoles will have 16GB of GDDR6 RAM, but besides Microsoft’s clear focus on raw power, the differences actually start when looking at some of the PlayStation 5’s other features.
In layman’s terms, Sony is attempting to make its console unique on two fronts that we’ve seen so far: audio and load times. Digital Foundry’s John Linneman says it best, but the PlayStation 5 will be able to load 5.5GB of data in around a second, meaning games will load faster than ever before.
The craziest thing about PS5 is the speed of the SSD. 5.5 GB/s is just part of the story – there is a lot of custom silicon in there to ensure that the system isn't bottlenecked in other areas. It's *REALLY* fast on paper – a lot faster than Xbox Series X even.
— John Linneman (@dark1x) March 18, 2020
We’ve seen these insane load times demoed with Marvel’s Spider–Man in the past, but this design choice provides more benefits than that. What Cerny proposes is that developers will be able to create games with less roadblocks with PlayStation 5’s SSD, or as he puts it, it’s about “trying not to cramp a creator’s style.” A long empty corridor to traverse, for example, will no longer be necessary in order to give the game time to load the next sprawling environment. Objects will be able to load on demand maybe at the exact moment they are needed, creating a whole new design possibilities.
On the audio front, PlayStation is going all in on creating 3D audio for PlayStation 5 owners. The hope is to be able to generate immersive audio with or without headphones thanks to the console’s new Tempest Engine. Sony is aiming for high-quality audio that will allow players to understand the exact direction enemies are coming from, for example. Cerny stated a few times that the goal is to let players feel like they are entering the Matrix.
Cerny also reiterated that the PlayStation 5 will support many of the PlayStation 4’s top 100 games with backwards compatibility at launch, with more games planned to follow throughout the next-gen lifecycle.
Another nice tidbit shared during the breakdown was that you will be able to purchase non-proprietary expanded storage in the future – but only once Sony says so. The company says that it will offer more information regarding which NVMe drives will be compatible with the PlayStation 5 at a later date, so hold off buying anything in advance until then.
For all of the nitty-gritty details, you can watch the full presentation below.