PlayStation Logo with glowing controllers
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Sony’s lead architect for the upcoming PlayStation 5, Mike Cerny, recently sat down with Wired to talk about the console. And holy crap, man, it sounds unreal—lightning-fast SSD, 8K compatibility, and freakin’ ray tracing. On a console!

The current cream of Sony’s console crop, the PlayStation 4 Pro, is a pretty beastly machine on its own—especially compared to the “regular” PlayStation 4. But Sony knows it has to really bring its A-game for the new console, and the early details it shared with Wired should be enough to get any console gamer excited.

PC-Level Hardware Runs the Show

First off, it’s going to be powered by a custom version of AMD’s third-generation Ryzen chip, which has quickly become a go-to chip for many, many PC gamers thanks to its low price and relatively stellar performance. It will pair this will a custom version from Radeon’s Navi family, which means one significant detail: it will support ray tracing. That’s something no console before it—and let’s be honest here, many PCs—has been able to do.

Keeping in line with the beastly specs, Cerny talked about loading times and storage mediums. In current-generation PlayStation consoles (up to and including the PS4 Pro), loading times can take ages. This is in large part due to the storage mediums found inside the consoles—as it true with PCs, this is often the bottleneck of good performance. But with the upcoming console, it sounds like Sony is designed its own SSD.

While it didn’t spell that detail out exactly, the wording used strongly hinted at it. According to Cerny, the console will feature a hard drive that “has a raw bandwidth higher than any SSD available for PCs.” That’s pretty telling in itself.

A Custom SSD Will Make a Monstrous Change

To demonstrate its monstrous performance, he loaded up Spider-Man, a PlayStation-exclusive title, on a PS4 Pro, then initiated fast travel. It took 15 seconds. He then loaded the same game on a prototype console—which was housed in a “big silver tower with no visible componentry”—and did the same fast travel. It took 0.8 seconds. What?!

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the console, apparently. It will also feature a dramatically beefed-up audio experience with 3D audio. This should help create a more immersive audio experience for gamers, which we can all get into.

Backward Compatibility…for PS4 Games

Finally, Cerny pointed out one more interesting (and possibly concerning) feature: backward compatibility. It’s been long-rumored that the Ps5 would feature backward compatibility for older consoles—perhaps even back to the PS2—but Wired’s report only suggests that it will support PS4 games since it’s based on the existing software. While any backward compatibility is welcome, the biggest downside of the current system is that users aren’t able to play older games on it.

Of course, there are other significant questions here: what about pricing and availability? As expected, mum’s the word on that sort of thing, but Wired is confident we won’t see it in 2019. As excited as I am for the console, I’m kind of glad to hear it—I’m not sure my budget would appreciate a new must-buy (for me, at least) console this year.

[Wired]

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Tuesday, April 16, 2019 - 10:46am