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Everything We Learned from Mark Cerny’s PlayStation 5 Deep Dive

Thomas Bardwell
Last Updated September 23, 2020 1:39 PM
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  • Sony held a PlayStation 5 deep dive this afternoon, revealing the full specifications of the console.
  • The PS5 features an 825 GB SSD, 10.28 Teraflops, and 16 GB of GDDR6 memory.
  • The PlayStation 4 “top 100” will be backward compatible at launch.

Today, Sony finally lifted the curtain on the specifications of its next-generation PlayStation 5 .

The event was very much what is said on the tin – a deep dive into the architecture underpinning the console. No games, no look at the console itself, but very much a fact-based analysis of everything Sony is aiming for under the hood.

Anyone looking for a juicy first look at the PlayStation 5 and more tangible details like a price or release date was left terribly disappointed.

But that isn’t to say there wasn’t quite a bit to glean about the console.

A Game-Changing SSD

Much of the event was focused on the PS5’s SSD, which will boast 825 GB of storage. Sony settled on that number based on analysis of how current PlayStation 4 players install and uninstall games.

PlayStation 5
The PS5 SSD features 825 GB of storage. | Source: Sony/YouTube 

For those seeking extra storage, the PlayStation 5 will be compatible with third-party M.2 NVMe SSDs. These will fit into a bay on the console itself.

Sony hasn’t divulged an exact list of models but says it will prioritize compatibility with the PS5’s I/O systems. Users can also hook up traditional HDDs if they so wish.

10.28 Teraflops

Moving to the GPU, the PlayStation 5 has a custom AMD RDNA 2 GPU with 36 compute units running at a maximum frequency of 2.23 GHz. The frequency is variable, meaning we could see games use less than the cap of 2.23 GHz. These specs combined mean the PlayStation 5 delivers up to 10.28 teraflops.

The clock runs on what Sony calls “boost.” Here’s how lead architect Mark Cerny describes it:

Rather than running at a constant frequency and letting the power vary based on the workload, we run at essentially constant power and let the frequency vary based on the workload.

For the CPU, which, as we know, is a custom AMD Zen 2 build, we are looking at eight cores hitting 3.5 GHz. The frequency is similarly variable.

The Main Takeaways From Mark Cerny's PlayStation 5 Deep Dive
The console’s clock runs on “boost.” | Source: Sony/YouTube 

The PlayStation 5 will have 16 GB of GDDR6 memory using a 256-bit interface with a bandwidth of 448 GB per second. The IO throughput hits 5.5 GB per second for RAW data, which equates to 8 to 9 GB per second of uncompressed data.

PS5 Boasts Backward Compatibility at Launch

Cerny confirmed that the PlayStation 5 would be backward compatible with PlayStation 4 titles. He says that almost all of the top-100 PlayStation 4 games (determined by playtime) will be playable at launch.

These are the main takeaways, but if you want a deeper dive, then we recommend watching Cerny’s talk in full. It’s a little dry, but it’s interesting from a technical perspective.

Although we have a clearer idea of what the PlayStation 5 is all about, there’s still a lot we don’t know. Whether it will be days or months before we hear more is anyone’s guess.