Sony is ready to start talking about the PlayStation 5's hardware specifications. Tuesday morning the hardware manufacturer revealed the first official details about its upcoming PS5 console as part of an exclusive with Wired magazine. These details include general details about the PS5's CPU, GPU, storage system, and more, but avoids specifics. For now, hardware enthusiasts will have to draw their own conclusions or wait for deeper dives into the hardware at upcoming conventions.
Starting with CPU, Sony's lead hardware architect Mark Cerny confirms that the PS5 will be utilizing a chip from AMD's Zen 2 line of microprocessors. The 7nm chip will feature a hearty 8 cores, which is in-line with top tier PC CPUs. AMD's Zen 2 lineup of PC CPUs has yet to be officially detailed yet by AMD, which will serve as a precursor for more information regarding the PS5 CPU, but more information is expected at the end of May during Computex. At the very least, Zen 2 CPUs are expected to be AMD's flagship CPU hardware for 2019 going forward performance-wise and while an 8 core CPU won't match the top of the line Zen 2 hardware AMD is likely to release for PC, it's still certain to be a very powerful CPU no matter the fine details.
The PS5's GPU is a similar scale of upgrade compared to its CPU. Sony has confirmed that the PS5 will be equipped with a custom variant of AMD's Radeon Navi GPU architecture, a multi-step forward from the PS4's Radeon GCN GPU. Navi is speculated to be comparative to middle-upper performance PC video cards (think GeForce 1660 Ti, not GeForce 2080 Ti), though console cards can be optimized in ways PC cards cannot for increased performance.
Industry speculation points to the Radeon Navi cards being revealed at E3 this year and launched in July, so specific details for the PS5's card will have to wait at least until then, but more likely further beyond. Sony is willing to confirm that the GPU will support raytracing right now, though, a first for consoles. That said, raytracing is extremely hardware intensive and typically requires additional hardware in graphics cards. Whether the PS5 GPU will have such dedicated hardware to raytracing isn't made clear, and seems unlikely. Nevertheless, enabling developers to use raytracing if they have the spare power will be a welcomed decision.
Beyond CPU and GPU, Sony has a lot of very other details to talk about. For one, Sony's confirmed that the PS5 will be backward compatible with PS4 games, as well as the PlayStation VR headset. It will also feature a physical disk drive, so there's no need to worry about an all-digital next generation just yet. The PS5 will also feature a custom AMD unit for 3D audio with support for raytraced audio.
Regarding storage, Sony confirms that the PS5 will have an SSD. The PS5 won't have just any plain SSD, however, as Cerny notes that many SSDs including laptop SSDs aren't anything worth being excited for. He says that the PS5 will feature "something a little more specialized." As an example, Cerny shows a loading sequence in Spider-Man on a PS4 Pro taking 15 seconds and then shows it on a PS5 dev kit. The same loading sequence takes .8 seconds.
Obviously, there's a lot left for Sony to say about the PlayStation 5, but it also has plenty of time left to do so given the console won't be launching in 2019. Sony's already confirmed that PlayStation won't be attending E3 2019, but prospective PS5 buyers can still likely expect to hear more specific information on the new console before too long.
If there's a specific message being told in today's reveal, it's that Sony wants to deliver more of the same kind of excellence it did with the PS4. The PS5 is like the PS4, only more powerful than ever.