The PS5 (or PlayStation 5) is the next-generation PlayStation console, and its release date is coming in late 2020. In Sony’s The Future of Gaming event on June 11, the PS5’s design was finally revealed, along with the PS5 games line-up, an impressive range of software that includes Horizon Forbidden West and a remake of Demon’s Souls.
The PS5 design reveal was a massive surprise, and an even bigger shock was the unveiling of the PS5 Digital Edition – a streamlined, digital-only console without a disc drive. Even though Sony didn’t reveal the PS5 price or release date, we know almost everything else about the PlayStation 5 ahead of the launch later this year.
Here’s the PS5 event re-cap video if you missed it:
Earlier this year, Sony revealed the DualSense PS5 controller, which includes a slew of impressive-sounding features like haptic feedback, adaptive triggers and a built-in mic. What really stands out about the DualSense controller, though, is its radically different look and space-age black-and-white color scheme, and it turns out the PS5 design has a similar look – this marks a significant departure from its predecessors.
Just as important as the DualSense Controller are the PS5 specs, discussed in detail at Sony’s March reveal event. Lead system architect Mark Cerny provided us with a deep dive into the PS5’s system architecture, revealing the technical inner workings of the PS5. We’ll cover them in more detail down below, but the short of it is that the PS5 is rocking an AMD Zen 2-based CPU with 8 cores at 3.5GHz, 16GB of GDDR6 memory and a custom RDNA 2 AMD GPU that puts out 10.28 TFLOPs of processing power.
When it comes to other PS5 features, we know the next-gen console will have ray-tracing, a super-fast SSD, a built-in 4K Blu-ray player and will be backwards compatible with a huge swathe of the PS4’s game catalogue. It may even have voice assistant capabilities to tell you how long it will take to beat levels. So far, then, the PS5 is living up to the hype, but it’s the games that’ll make all the difference.
Want all the juicy details? Here’s everything we know about the PS5 so far, including the newly-revealed design – and what we hope will be revealed the closer we get to launch.
- What is it? The Sony PS5 is the next-gen PlayStation console.
- When will it release? “Holiday 2020”, so between October and December 2020.
- What can I play on it? Loads of games! They include a new Spider-Man entry, a Horizon Zero Dawn sequel, a Demon’s Souls remake, Resident Evil 8 and much more to come.
- Will PS5 have VR? Oh yes. The next-gen console will be compatible with current PSVR hardware, and there are also rumors of PSVR 2.
- What will the PS5 cost? TBC. The PS4 and PS4 Pro were both $399 / £349 at launch, but we expect the PS5 will cost somewhat more. Leaks have suggested around the $499 mark.
- Can I play PS4 games on the PS5? The PS5 will definitely be backwards compatible with “almost all” PS4 games – earlier generations are still to be confirmed. It will launch with support for the majority of the top 100 PS4 games, according to Sony’s Mark Cerny.
- Will coronavirus delay the PS5 release? Sony has confirmed the PS5 release date is not currently delayed by coronavirus, and reiterated the fact that the PS5 is still on course for a “Holiday 2020” release in its end of year financial report.
Sony has officially confirmed that the PS5 will release globally “in time for Holiday 2020”, so likely some time between October and December 2020 – putting it in direct competition with the Xbox Series X, which is releasing in the same window. A leak has suggested that the release date will be November 20, 2020 but that’s yet to be confirmed.
However, this date would be in the right window, as we’re predicting the PS5 will release in November, 2020. November is historically when we’ve seen PlayStation consoles launch and it would leave time before Christmas to get those orders in.
AMD, the tech giant that’s been commissioned to make the processor and graphics chips in both the PS5 and Xbox Series X next-gen consoles, is “ramping up production” to prepare for their respective launches, AMD CEO Dr Lisa Su confirmed in early May 2020. This timing too is also suggestive of a November launch window.
We’re expecting to find out the PlayStation 5’s official release date soon, now that we’ve seen the design.
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Sony hasn’t officially confirmed a PS5 price yet and, last we heard, that’s because it hasn’t actually decided how much the next-gen console will cost. The price wasn’t revealed during the June 11 event, but we weren’t expecting to see it there anyway.
In a quarterly earnings call (via Spiel Times) back in February, Sony’s chief financial officer Hiroki Totoki revealed the company still hasn’t nailed down the PS5 price.
“It’s a balancing act it’s very difficult to say anything concrete at this point of time,” Totoki said. But we do know that Sony is aiming for “the best balance so that we will be profitable in the life, during the life of this product.”
However, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s president and CEO Jim Ryan has hinted that a PS5 price tag may be closer to being decided and that the PS5 might not have the ‘lowest price’ in battle against Xbox Series X
In a wide-ranging interview with GamesIndustryBiz, Ryan addressed speculation around the PS5 cost. While not revealing the price, Ryan suggested the PS5 price could be a significant hit on gamers’ savings, and certainly not committing to beating the Xbox Series X on price.
Speaking on whether the potential for a Covid-19-related recession will affect sales of the PS5, a high-value gadget, Ryan said:
“I think the best way that we can address this is by providing the best possible value proposition that we can. I don’t necessarily mean lowest price. Value is a combination of many things. In our area it means games, it means number of games, depth of games, breadth of games, quality of games, price of games… all of these things and how they avail themselves of the feature set of the platform.”
While Sony may not have confirmed a price yet, there have been rumors about how much the PS5 could cost. While many PS5 leaks are wild – and can’t be trusted – some predictions seem a bit more feasible (even if they’re not reliable).
One rumor has suggested that the console will cost $499 in North America when it launches. Naturally this should be treated with skepticism, but it would be welcome news if the console did launch at this price, as it’s only $100 more than the launch price of the PS4 and PS4 Pro.
We think this could be the most likely price for the console, but that could be wishful thinking. A report by Bloomberg claims that Sony will not be making as many PlayStation 5 consoles for launch as it did for the PS4’s launch back in 2013, despite no delay to production or on sale date being expected.
According to the report, Sony is simply anticipating less demand. This is likely due to what is expected to be a higher asking price for the PS5 than the PS4 launched with. The PS5 is expected to really push the boat out in terms of high-end components, and as such will likely be met with a higher price tag.
Microsoft’s plans for the Xbox Series X are key here, and Sony could well decide to sell the hardware at a slight loss to stay competitive with the other console. The PS4 benefited from a lower cost than the Xbox One, and Sony likely won’t be keen to reverse that for this generation. We hope.
However, speaking on an episode of Geoff Keighley’s Bonus Round (via PushSquare), industry analyst Michael Pachter suggested that it could be Microsoft that considers taking a significant loss on the Xbox Series X to undercut the PS5’s price.
We can only speculate about whether this will happen. But, while we can expect that the PS5’s price will be in line with the technology it uses, Sony will also have to be aware of its competition. It’s unlikely, with the Xbox Series X, that Microsoft will repeat the mistake it made by launching the Xbox One at a prohibitively high price point, so Sony will have to ensure that it doesn’t make a similar mistake by making the PS5 too expensive.
It could be a while before we get confirmation of the PS5 price – possibly a few months yet. Historically we’ve seen both companies reveal their console pricing around June or July, but this time things are a bit different. The hot topic of pricing has many on the edge of their seats, as we see just how powerful the PS5 and Xbox Series are, and wonder how expensive the technology will be.
It seems like we’re currently in something of a standoff, with both companies waiting to see what the other will price its next-gen hardware at. It looks like Sony and Microsoft will be waiting until the last possible moment to set their pricing, with plenty of time before then to make adjustments. Still, enough time will need to be set aside before the consoles release between October and December for people to get those pre-orders in.
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The PS5 design was officially revealed on June 11, 2020. This image above is what the console looks like.
When it came to the reveal of the console itself, Sony nailed it – the icing on the PS5 games reveal event, and with a few surprises in store too. Not one, but two PlayStation 5 consoles will launch – a standard edition with a 4K Blu-Ray disc drive, and a slimmer, disc-free PS5 Digital Edition (read more on this below).
Both make use of USB-C charging for their controllers, and can make use of a HD camera accessory, alongside a new PS5 wireless headset and media remote. The consoles themselves feature a striking design that’s sure to split opinion.
A curvy mixture of black and white plastics with blue highlight lighting, it’s far removed from the ‘black box’ designs of previous PlayStation consoles. What was not revealed however, were pricing and precise availability, which remain a mystery beyond the aforementioned “Holiday 2020” window.
In addition, Sony has said that the PS5 UI will be getting “a 100% overhaul of the PS4 UI” – which will be revealed soon.
Here are some shots of the PS5 design:
- CPU: AMD Zen 2-based CPU with 8 cores at 3.5GHz (variable frequency)
- GPU: 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency)
- GPU architecture: Custom RDNA 2
- Memory interface: 16GB GDDR6 / 256-bit
- Memory bandwidth: 448GB/s
- Internal storage: Custom 825GB SSD
- IO throughput: 5.5GB/s (raw), typical 8-9GB/s (compressed)
- Expandable storage: NVMe SSD slot
- External storage: USB HDD support (PS4 games only)
- Optical drive: 4K UHD Blu-ray drive
As well as the design, we also know the PS5 specs. Sony lifted the hood on the PlayStation 5 during its first official PS5 reveal event in March, giving us a better idea of the specs the next-gen console will offer. But what do we think?
What’s interesting so far is Sony’s commitment to custom silicon, with a full focus on raising gaming capabilities to the next level, without alienating developers now comfortable with developing on the PS4. Custom hardware in the PS3 proved to be a difficult element for devs to get their heads around, but the PS5 aims to be as developer-friendly as possible.
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The importance of the SSD
As has already been explored, the SSD is key to the PlayStation 5 experience. Internal storage will be built in at 825GB for the custom SSD – that’s less than you’ll find in the Xbox Series X, but with just as clever an implementation of the technology.
SSDs don’t just load faster, but allow for bigger open worlds, theoretically. Developers don’t need to make games with smaller worlds due to the limitations of mechanical hard drives, while SSDs will also allow system memory to be used more effectively.
SSDs have more bandwidth, so data can be loaded from the SSD when it’s needed, rather than heaps of potentially needless data being loaded into RAM. In pure gameplay terms that means that games will suffer less from texture pop-in, while load times will be hugely reduced when using a game’s fast-travel option. Booting up from standby should be generally much faster, too.Advertisement
You’ll also have more control over how you install and remove games, meaning you could just install a game’s multiplayer mode rather than the full block of data. This will allow for launch of direct gameplay, allowing players to jump straight into aspects of different games (such as match-making, continue save game etc) without having to boot up the full game.
As for expandable storage, Sony appears to be allowing for off-the-shelf NVMe PC drives, rather than proprietary storage systems that Xbox will primarily be relying on. However, there aren’t many drives on the market right now that use the PCIe 4.0 interface required – they need to be capable of at least a 5.5GB/s transfer speed.
“NVMe PC drives will work in PlayStation 5,” said Cerny. “The only problem is that PC technology is significantly behind PS5. It’ll take some time for the newer, PCIe 4.0-based drives with the bandwidth required to match Sony’s spec to hit the market.”
PS4 games on the PS5 will work just fine if saved to a regular HDD, however, so you won’t need to tap into that precious SSD space unnecessarily.
When asked about the PlayStation 5’s speed compared to its current-gen console at a corporate strategy meeting, Sony made the bullish claim that PS5 will “revolutionize the game experience for users” in an official Sony document.
Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida added that the PS5’s custom-built SSD will enable processing speeds that dwarf those found on PlayStation 4 – with the PS5 boasting processing speeds 100 times faster than the PS4.
In fact, Epic Games has revealed that the PS5’s SSD is so fast that the developer had to rework its Unreal Engine 5 tech demo to take full advantage of it.
“The ability to stream in content at extreme speeds enables developers to create denser and more detailed environments, changing how we think about streaming content,” Epic Games VP of engineering, Nick Penwarden, told VG247. “It’s so impactful that we’ve rewritten our core I/O subsystems for Unreal Engine with the PlayStation 5 in mind.”
A custom processor and GPU – what that means for backwards compatibility
We were already aware that Sony will be using AMD’s Zen 2 CPU processor tech, with eight cores and 16 threads. The reveal stream, however, also revealed that the PS5 will be delivering 3.5GHz frequencies – so, the PlayStation 5 would be running 8x Zen 2 Cores at 3.5GHz (at variable frequencies) over the PS4’s 8x Jaguar Cores at 1.6GHz. That’s a huge jump in performance.
Move over to the GPU, and you’re looking at the AMD RDNA 2 GPU, itself customized. It makes use of 36 compute units capped at 2.23GHz. A compute performance peak of 10.28TF was stated.
What’s smart is that the combination makes it simple for the PS5 to easily handle PS4 backwards compatibility – through GPU architecture rather than hours of coding. Almost all of the top 100 PS4 games will be fully compatible at launch. PS4 games will be supported natively on the GPU silicon, but here the GPU seems to be emulating PS4 and PS4 Pro graphics chips, which is a strange solution, and not as interesting as Xbox Series X’s method, which will also be capable of upscaling previous Xbox generation games and adding HDR to previously HDR-less titles.
Tempest 3D audio tech
The PS5 will boast 3D audio support, thanks to the new Tempest Engine. It’s an incredibly powerful system: if the PSVR can support “50 pretty decent sound sources,” according to Cerny – with the PSVR’s distinct audio system being one of the more complex audio systems in gaming at the moment – the PS5’s Tempest Engine can support hundreds.
The example Cerny used described it in terms of rainfall. Today, the sound of rain in a game is a single audio track, but the PS5 would theoretically be capable of letting you hear individual raindrops, in relation to where the player character is.
“Where we ended up is a unit with roughly the same SIMD (single instruction, multiple data) power and bandwidth as all eight Jaguar cores in the PS4 combined,” said Cerny.
The amount of attention Sony is heaping on its Tempest Audio Engine suggests it may be the secret weapon in the PlayStation 5 arsenal.
At a corporate strategy meeting for Sony, a slideshow called the PlayStation 5 an “evolution of sound”.
“By installing a customized 3D audio processing unit in PS5, we have made it possible to deliver diverse and sophisticated 3D audio experiences,” the slide read. “Players can experience sound that moves in from front to behind, above to below, and all around them.”
“If we were to use the same algorithms as PSVR, that’s enough for something like five thousand sound sources – but of course we want to use more complex algorithms, and we don’t need anything like that number of sounds.”
Perhaps best of all is the way you’ll get to experience this – even a lowly pair of headphones at launch will be able to take advantage of the sense of presence and directionality Sony is promising here, with the company also committing to later support multi-speaker surround systems with the tech.
But this is an ongoing project for Sony. To accurately model surround data positioning, Sony needs to create a Head-related Transfer Function, or HRFT, map. Essentially, that’s a distinct algorithm that works best if the system knows the precise shape of your ears.Advertisement
“Maybe you’ll be sending us a photo of your ear, and we’ll use a neural network to pick the closest HRTF in our library,” Cerny teased. “Maybe you’ll be sending us a video of your ears and your head, and we’ll make a 3D model of them and synthesize the HRTF. Maybe you’ll play an audio game to tune your HRTF, we’ll be subtly changing it as you play, and home in on the HRTF that gives you the highest score, meaning that it matches you the best.
“This is a journey we’ll all be taking together over the next few years. Ultimately, we’re committed to enabling everyone to experience that next level of realism.”
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