Sony drops PlayStation 5 Specs: Speedy SSD and new 3D audio engine

Sony has finally revealed the specifications for the upcoming PlayStation 5. The forthcoming Sony console packs a blazing fast SSD, variable clock speeds and revolutionary 3D audio engine.

PlayStation 5 Lead System Architect Mark Cerny

On March 18, PlayStation 5 Lead System Architect Mark Cerny delivered a presentation in front of ghostly silhouettes. They chose an online format as the Game Developer Conference was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Viruses aside, the upcoming console packs some ingenious tech that will take PlayStation gaming to a new level.

PS5 CPU and GPU performance. Image: PlayStation.

Massive improvements compared to PS4

Now, on the specs. To say that the PlayStation 5 is more powerful than the PS4 is an understatement. The new console is a massive jump compared to the current-gen machine. For starters, Sony went with an AMD 8 core, ZEN 2 processor and a custom RDNA 2 GPU. That’s very similar to Microsoft’s Xbox Series X console.

However, the configuration is different. The PlayStation 5’s CPU is clocked at 3.5GHz with hyperthreading. On the graphics side, the custom GPU has 36 compute units running at 2.23GHz, which equates to 10.28 teraflops peak performance. Yes, that’s less than the Xbox Series X’s 12 teraflops. But it may be quite difficult to notice a difference in real-world performance.

Another difference between Sony’s computing strategy is variable frequencies. Instead of a fixed 3.5GHz on the CPU and 2.23GHz on the GPU, Sony went with adjustable clock speeds. That means the CPU and GPU can reduce rate when needed and jump to the max when necessary. In contrast, all the Xbox’s 8 CPU cores will run at either 3.6 or 3.8GHz always, with the 52 compute units running at a constant 1.825GHz.

The PS5 has a crazy fast SSD. Image: PlayStation.

Microsoft also has a faster memory. While both consoles have 16GB of GDDR6 memory, Sony’s memory bandwidth is 448GB/s while Microsoft runs its memory at two different speeds. 10GB runs at 560GB/s and the remaining six at a slower 336GB/s.

So, Microsoft seems to be winning the console spec race. But there’s one area where Sony flat out trumps the upcoming Xbox: the SSD. Sony opted for an 825GB, custom MVMe SSD capable of running at 5.5GB/s with of raw data and up to 8 or 9GB/s of compressed files.

Sony has not yet revealed the final design for the highly-anticipated PS5.

That’s blazing fast considering the original PS4’s hard drive runs at a measly 50-100MB/s. The Xbox’s SSD implementation deals with raw data at 2.4GB/s and 4.8GB/s compressed. Sony’s SSD is so fast that the drive could 2GB of data in a quarter of a second. What, what? That means that all 16GB of memory can fill up in two seconds.

The speedy SSD will be a gamechanger for both developers and gamers alike. No longer will game developers have to programme long corridors to hide the fact that a game needs to load more assets in the background. For gamers, it means no more long elevator scenes to get to another level. These speed advancements bring games closer to zero loading screens. 🙌🏾

An HRTF reading. Image: PlayStation.

One impressive improvement coming to the PlayStation 5 is 3D audio. Sony’s Tempest Engine promises to produce better quality, immersive sound based on presence and locality. With regards to presence, the Tempest Engine could, for example, accurately simulate a rainstorm by producing distinct raindrops around you, making you feel immersed in the scene.

The locality will help in games as players will be able to distinguish where sounds are coming from precisely. The technology is sophisticated, and ideally, it requires a specific individuals HRTF or Head-related Transfer Function. We hear sounds uniquely as the shape of our ears, and head differs. Cerny even hinted that players might be able to send images of their ears for a customised experience. 🤔

While Sony did reveal some information about the PS5, there’s still a lot we don’t know. We’re yet to see PlayStation 5 or the controller.

Meanwhile, the Xbox Series X is out in the open. Oh well, Microsoft and Sony are going about the console wars in different ways. The Xbox Series X is a spec monster while the PlayStation 5 incorporated intelligent engineering.

The next-gen console wars will be a bitter fight.