Sony PlayStation 5 gets third-generation Ryzen CPU, Navi GPU and ray tracing

Sony is equipping the next PlayStation console with a third-generation AMD Ryzen CPU with eight cores and a GPU based on the Navi architecture. The console will support ray tracing, get a fast SSD and developers already have devkits.

Sony’s systems architect Mark Cerny revealed the details in an interview with Wired. It is not yet officially known what the successor of the PlayStation 4 will be called; Cerny keeps talking about the ‘next-generation PlayStation’. According to the technical chief, a number of studios already own devkits and can therefore work on games for the new console. When the console will be released is not yet known, but Cerny says it is certainly not this year.

According to Cerny, the new PlayStation is fundamentally different from the current PlayStation 4 and its Pro variant. The hardware is much more powerful and that should enable games that are also fundamentally different from the current generation. Sony will use AMD’s latest processor; a chip of the third-generation Ryzen processors with eight cores. AMD has not yet announced those CPUs and the PlayStation console will probably contain a special variant that cannot be purchased separately. However, it is already known that these chips are made on the basis of the Zen 2 architecture and that the CPU chiplets are made at 7nm.

In the current PlayStation 4, Sony also uses AMD hardware. The CPU part uses eight Jaguar cores. In the PlayStation 4, those cores run at 1.6GHz and in the Pro version it is 2.13GHz. However, the architecture used is from 2013 and the Jaguar cores, which are made at 28nm, were originally developed by AMD for energy-efficient devices. The move to a third-generation Ryzen processor represents a huge leap in processing power.

The GPU in the new PlayStation is a custom one based on the Navi architecture. AMD is likely to announce Navi graphics cards for PCs later this spring. Cerny doesn’t give many details about the GPU yet, but he says the video card will support ray tracing. However, it is unknown whether it is hardware support as Nvidia does with its RTX cards. Ray tracing can also be added via software; this is already possible with DirectX Raytracing.

The new PlayStation console will probably get a custom chip that contains both the Ryzen CPU and the Navi GPU. In the interview, Cerny says that the AMD chip also has a built-in chip for 3D audio. That should provide a whole new experience in the field of sound. Cerny states that gamers will be more ‘in the game’ because sound can come from all sides and has a clear direction. That should work on all types of speakers, including a TV’s built-in, but players get the best experience with headphones.

Sony will provide the new console with an SSD and claims that the SSD has more bandwidth than all the SSDs currently on sale for PCs. This makes it seem to be flash memory that is integrated on the motherboard, instead of a regular SSD. It is not yet clear whether it is only an SSD, or a combination of an HDD and SSD. To Wired, Cerny demonstrated that fasttravel in the game Spider Man is much faster on the SSD-equipped devkit than on the PlayStation 4 Pro. On the current console it takes 15 seconds, on the new only 0.8 seconds.

The new model will still be able to handle physical media. The PlayStation 4 can handle regular blu-rays; perhaps the new console will also support UHD Blu-rays, like the Xbox One does. In any case, Cerny confirms that the console will be backwards compatible with games from the previous generation. That is not difficult this time, because the hardware is broadly based on the same architecture. When the new PlayStation comes out there will be a transition period of games available on both the new console and the PlayStation 4.

The new console will receive 8k support, but whether games will actually run at that resolution remains to be seen. In any case, the console can output images at that resolution. The devkit Cerny demonstrated at Wired was hooked up to a 4k TV.

The current PlayStation VR headset will be compatible with the new console. It is not yet clear whether there will also be a new headset. Cerny does say that virtual reality is very important to Sony.

It is not yet clear when Sony will announce more about the next PlayStation console. In any case, it won’t be during the E3 fair in June this year. Sony is not present there for the first time since the fair’s inception. This may well be the place where competitor Microsoft will provide information about an Xbox One successor.

PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4 Slim and PlayStation 4 Pro. The appearance of the new PlayStation is not yet known.