Coronavirus or not, Sony is determined to be the talk of its PlayStation 5, while Microsoft has just introduced the bowels of its Xbox X Series . So the PS5’s turn to be revealed by its system architect, Mark Cerny.

Caught up in speed by Microsoft, which has just detailed the architecture of its Xbox Series X , Sony had planned to present that of its PlayStation 5 during the Game Developers Conference. Missed, since the coronavirus went through there and led to the cancellation of this trade fair reserved for professionals and very focused on the technique. Never mind, so online that Mark Cerny, the architect of the PS5, detailed the specifics of the next Sony home console.

An SSD for a speed 100 times higher than on PS4

First, Mark Cerny took the time to explain how providing an ultra-fast SSD would more than negate load times. Without going into technical details (certainly very instructive, but which we let you discover in the full video, above, if that interests you), thanks to numerous hardware unitsspecialized, used to accelerate the speed of data transfer and avoid bottlenecks, 2 GB of data can be loaded in just 0.27 seconds (or 7.4 GB / s). Enough to fill the 16 GB of GDDR6 (448 GB / s) in just 2 seconds! Compared to the Xbox Series X, it would therefore be about 54% more performance for the PS5 on compressed files, Microsoft having announced a speed of 4.8 GB / s with its system (and 2.4 GB / s on uncompressed files, against 5.5 GB / s for the PS5). The latter however works a little differently with its Velocity architecture which gives faster access (more than 6 GB / s) to 100 GB of compressed data from the SSD, according to Digital Foundry .

PlayStation 5
© Sony PlayStation

If the superiority of the SSD of the PS5 remains to be demonstrated in practice, we can only be impressed by such speeds. What to ensure in a snap of the fingers fast movements in an open world game, for example, but not only. Indeed, these first-rate performances allow game creators to design more open universes, without the need to resort to subterfuges to mask certain areas that previously required several seconds to load into memory. There is also talk of significantly reducing the size of games, since it is no longer necessary with an SSD to duplicate information to access it faster, unlike what happens with a hard drive. Promise is also made of game updates that will be much faster to install.

SSD of house design and optimization of the performances as costs oblige, Sony opted for a capacity of 825 Go for its PS5. It plans however, like Microsoft on its Series X, a space for additional SSDs. On the other hand, unlike the latter, no proprietary format here, but a simple choice of the M2 format, potentially less expensive in the long term. If Mark Cerny indicates that the current SSDs using the PCIe 4.0 interface only reach speeds of 4 to 5 GB / s, he seems confident that by the end of the year, the new units will achieve higher speeds to the 5.5 GB / s that can reach the PSD’s internal SSD unit.

10.28 TFLOPS, but variable frequencies

Gamers eager for big numbers eagerly awaited information: no, the PlayStation 5 will not develop as much raw power as the Xbox Series X. Its GPU may well be based on the same AMD RDNA 2 architecture, it only ships 36 computing units (CU) that can rotate up to a frequency of 2.23 GHz, which gives us 10.28 TFLOPS. A maximum, because the operating frequency is not fixed and may decrease depending on the load, unlike that of the 50 computing units of the Xbox Series X, stabilized at 1.825 GHz whatever happens. This still makes a huge difference compared to the PlayStation 4, in frequency (800 MHz) as in computing units (18), especially since the number of transistors of the latter increased by 62% between these 2 generations consoles and that the RDNA 2 architecture of the GPU is even more efficient. CPU side, same sound, with a variable frequency and limited to 3.5 GHz of the 8 AMD Zen 2 cores.

A Tempest Engine audio unit dedicated to sound immersion

Like the SSD, the hardware unit dedicated to sound rendering calculations took a large place in the presentation of Mark Cerny. The objective here is to provide sufficient performance to provide a unique sound immersion in video games. The Tempest Engine will thus be able to support several hundred sound sources, but also manage the famous “HRTF” or “transfer function relating to the head”. This mathematical transfer function is specific to each individual and corresponds to the way he perceives and locates sounds. Failing to have a technical solution allowing to calculate this function for each user, Sony will propose 5 standard profiles supposed to represent the most common morphologies. He is nevertheless working on several avenues that would allow refine the result. With support for HRTF, it is a new realism that promises here Sony.

A duel of technical characteristics which does not reveal a winner

With its PlayStation 5, Sony is therefore not looking for a balance of power with Microsoft and its Xbox Series X, almost relegating graphics performance to the background. Although less efficient on this aspect than its competitor, the PS5 remains impressive and could pull out of the game with great reinforcements of dedicated hardware circuits. The calculation unit reserved for audio, in particular, is intriguing, and we are not immune to a few additional surprises in terms of the graphics as well, which are less detailed during this presentation. Sony has demonstrated with its PlayStation 4 Pro that it can handle the tide in the face of a more efficient Xbox One X. We will be careful in any case to declare one or the other console winner on the sole comparison of their technical characteristics,It is dangerous to rely on the number of teraFLOPS to measure performance . “