KEY POINTS

  • PlayStation 5 lead system architect Mark Cerny offered an in-depth look at the techinical power of the new system
  • He said the PS5 will be backwards compatible with the top 100 games on PlayStation 4 at launch
  • Twitter responded by criticizing the technical focus of the livestream, the lack of backwards compatible games compared to Xbox Series X, and no reveal of the PS5's physical design

Sony on Wednesday shared new details about the PlayStation 5 in a live stream, offering the technical layout of their new system.

The live stream replaced their originally planned presentation at the 2020 Game Developers Conference, which Sony decided to pull out of due to coronavirus concerns. This was the first deep dive into the PlayStation 5’s technical power, outlining the design of Sony’s next-generation console due for release in the 2020 holiday season.

Lead system architect Mark Cerny hosted the presentation, offering first-hand insight into the design of the new system. Cerny had also served on the design teams for all previous PlayStation consoles in some form.

The specs of the PlayStation 5 read as:

  • CPU – Eight x86-64-AMD Ryzen Zen 2 cores (16 threads), variable frequency at up to 3.5 GHz
  • GPU architecture – AMD Radeon RDNA 2-based graphics engine with hardware acceleration for ray tracing
  • GPU – 36 compute units at a variable frequency up to 2.23 GHz (10.28 teraflops)
  • Memory / interface – 16 GB GDDR6 / 256-bit
  • Memory bandwidth – 448 GB/s
  • Internal storage – Custom 825 GB SSD, PCIe 4.0
  • I/O throughput – 5.5 GB/s (read), typical 8-9 GB/s (compressed)
  • Expandable storage – NVMe SSD expansion bay
  • External storage – USB hard drive support
  • Optical drive – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Video – HDMI 2.1 (support for 4K 120 Hz TVs, 8K TVs, VRR)
  • Audio – Tempest 3D AudioTech

Like the Xbox Series X, the biggest change coming to the PS5 is the new solid-state drive, or SSD. The new internal drive will help with loading times, starting games and generating game worlds faster than previous hard-disc drives.

Cerny also said PS5 owners will be able to expand storage through an additional SSD slot inside the system and external units through one of the system’s USB ports. However, Cerny said SSDs must be certified by Sony and certified units likely won’t be available until shortly after the PS5 launch, while external units are more to support backwards compatible PS4 games.

It was then confirmed that top 100 PS4 games will be backwards compatible at launch and more may become compatible after launch. Cerny said some older games “just can’t handle” the boosted performance of the PS5 and that games had to be tested one-by-one.

In comparison, Microsoft said the Xbox Series X would be backwards compatible with games going back to the original Xbox.

Social media was quick to jump on Sony for an apparent lackluster presentation. These responses varied from simple criticism to memes aimed at a very tech-focused presentation to others expressing disappointment at the limited number of backwards compatible games or no body-design reveal, saying Microsoft already “won” the next generation.