Sony has revealed some information about its next-generation PlayStation. In an interview with Wired, Mark Cerny, who was lead system architect for the PlayStation 4 and is currently working on its successor, divulged details on the components that will power the next-gen system and teased some of the breakthroughs it is making.
In the interview, Cerny didn't name the console, though conventional thinking states it will probably be PlayStation 5. The next-gen PlayStation is partially based on PS4 architecture, which means that it is backwards compatible. Cerny also revealed that it is not an all-digital device, and will accept physical discs. Wired's article describes the transition from PS4 to PS5, as indicated by Cerny, as a "gentle one," adding that numerous games will be released for both PS4 and the next-gen console.
Housed in the console will be an AMD chip that has a CPU based on the third-generation Ryzen. It'll have eight cores of the seven-nanometer Zen 2 microchip. Although the console will support 8K, displaying at this resolution will be dependant on TVs catching up.
The graphics, meanwhile, will be driven by a custom version of Radeon's Navi line. This graphics chip will support ray tracing, something which is starting to become popular in movies and video games. Although it is traditionally thought of as a lighting technique, Cerny says that there are implications beyond creating realistic environments.
"If you wanted to run tests to see if the player can hear certain audio sources or if the enemies can hear the players' footsteps, ray tracing is useful for that," he explained. "It's all the same thing as taking a ray through the environment."
One of the first big steps forward the next-gen PlayStation makes that Cerny is keen to talk about is audio. The AMD chip will enable 3D audio, and this, according to Cerny, is key to immersing players deeper. This naturally led to discussions of PlayStation VR, and while Cerny didn't confirm whether a new version of Sony's headset will be released, the existing one will be supported.
The other key leap the next PlayStation will make comes through it's hard drive. According to Cerny, developers let Sony know that what they want an solid-state drives in the new hardware. These SSDs are relatively prevalent now in laptops, and what Sony is bringing to the next PlayStation is described as being specialized for the hardware.
Cerny demonstrated the change an SSD introduces to gaming by comparing a load sequence from Insomniac's Spider-Man on a standard PS4 Pro and a dev kit of the next-gen PlayStation. On the former, it was around 15 seconds, while on the latter it was 0.8 seconds. This, Cerny added, has implications on how the world can be rendered too, which in turn impacts how quickly Spidey can move through the world. On the new hardware, the camera moves through the city much quicker, as the hardware is capable of keeping up with rendering requirements.
Discussing the SSD, Cerny said "the raw read speed is important, but so are the details of the I/O [input-output] mechanisms and the software stack that we put on top of them. I got a PlayStation 4 Pro and then I put in a SSD that cost as much as the PlayStation 4 Pro—it might be one-third faster."
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