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Sony unveils final hardware spec for PlayStation 5

Following on from Microsoft’s Xbox Series X hardware spec unveiling, today Sony announced the final hardware details for PlayStation 5. Unsurprisingly, the next-gen PlayStation takes a similar approach to the Xbox Series X, sporting Zen 2 CPU cores from AMD and RDNA 2 graphics with support for raytracing. One of the biggest differences though comes in Sony’s choice of SSD technology. 

The PlayStation 5 will run eight Zen 2 CPU cores at 3.5GHz and a 10.28 TFLOP RDNA 2 GPU with 36 Compute Units at 2.23GHz. RAM gets a boost to 16GB of GDDR6 and while Microsoft is using a custom SSD with 2.5GB/s speeds, Sony is upping the ante to a 5.5GB/s NVMe SSD. Beyond that, the PS5 will support off-the-shelf M.2 SSD upgrades for expandable storage, although SSDs will need to be tested and rated to ensure they supply enough speed, as the SSD is going to be integral to games running on next-gen consoles.

While clock speeds are rated at 3.5GHz for the CPU and 2.23GHz for the GPU, the PlayStation 5 will support variable frequencies by monitoring the workloads of the CPU/GPU and then assigning additional power to one or the other based on the workload. AMD’s SmartShift technology is also in place, so spare power can dynamically boost the CPU or GPU when additional resources are available.

Another key point of focus for the PlayStation 5 is 3D Audio, which is powered by what Sony calls the ‘Tempest Engine’. Back on the PS3 and more recently on PSVR, dedicated audio processors were in place, something that was lost on PS4, with audio processes eating up a fraction of a Jaguar CPU core.

With PS5, the Tempest Engine is in place to bring back high quality audio, with more complex simulation and an increased number of sound sources to deliver more realistic audio. Sony has also implemented a Head-Related Transfer Function (HRTF) so sound can be tuned based on what you perceive to be best. Ideally, HRTF would be measured on an individual case by case basis, but instead, Sony has measured HRTF for 100 people and created five presets for the console’s launch.

Unfortunately, the physical PS5 unit was not unveiled during this event. Instead, this was a rather in-depth, developer-focused talk from PlayStation architect, Mark Cerny, going over the intricacies and design decisions behind the PS5 hardware and how developers can make use of it. Later in the year, we should see a more exciting reveal with game announcements and a look at the console itself.

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KitGuru Says: While I was expecting to see the PS5 today, as a hardware nerd, there is still plenty of other areas to focus on. Currently, it looks like the Xbox Series X will carry the performance crown, although Sony’s speedier SSD could pave the way for some interesting comparisons. What do you all think of the PS5 so far? 

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