Of course the machine will not just be faster, but more powerful as well. Cerny outlines the CPU and graphics processor specs, and unsurprisingly it all makes the PS5 sound like a hypothetical high-end PC from 2020. Both chips will come from AMD, with the seven nanometre eight-core CPU based on the company’s third-gen Ryzen tech, and the custom Navi GPU supporting cutting edge techniques like ray tracing.
In layman’s terms, the fidelity of realistic worlds will be unprecedented, at least compared to any existing consoles.
Wired also mentions that the PS5 will be capable of “8K graphics”, though it’s safe to assume this does not mean games running natively at 7680×4320. Currently even the most powerful consumer PC gear can struggle to run some games at 4K and a comfortably high frame rate, and if PS5 manages to even hit 4K at 60fps consistently it will be an impressive upgrade over current consoles. Gaming in native 8K is unlikely to be an affordable reality for a few years yet.
More likely the “8K graphics” means the PS5 will be capable of outputting 8K video. The latest HDMI spec can transmit video at 4K 120fps, or 8K 60fps, so including this on the next PlayStation would ensure the machine works well with 8K TVs. Sony could use it for streaming 8K video when that becomes available, or it could include an 8K game mode that uses an algorithm to upscale its 4K games, taking the processing load off the TV and potentially cutting down on lag.
Finally, Cerny confirmed that the similarity in architecture between the two machines means the next-gen PlayStation will be backwards compatible with the PS4. Ideally this means new PS5 owners will sign in to the machine and find all their existing PS4 games already waiting for them, and it also opens the door to future PS4 games like Ghosts of Tsushima, Death Stranding and The Last of Us Part II seeing a joint release across both systems. The new console will also be compatible with the existing PlayStation VR.
Microsoft is yet to officially detail its own new consoles, but with Xbox and PlayStation both seemingly aiming for a 2020 release of their new machines (seven years after the launch of the current platforms), Cerny’s details here represent the first salvo in a potential new console war. The PS4 has roundly outsold the Xbox One this generation, but Microsoft has won back a lot of support in recent years with its powerful One X console and renewed commitment to funding and publishing original games.
What we don’t yet know is how close the two platforms will be in terms of raw power, how they’ll figure in to the respective companies’ cloud-based gaming ambitions, and — most important of all — what kinds of new games we can expect to be playing on them.