The PlayStation 5 Rumours, The Console Wars Continue…

It used to be that the only guarantees in life were death and taxes, but in this high-tech world we can add the march of technology and internet rumours to this list. Rumours of the next generation PlayStation have been especially abundant in recent months and they are painting a very interesting picture. With far more continuity between generations it is looking like Sony’s move to AMD for the PS4 is starting to pay off for everyone. Will this be a case of evolution being better than a revolution? Will the console wars switch tracks and be won by the dark horse Nintendo? Can anyone believe it’s been so long since the last GTA game?

The Technology

The most solid rumour to emerge from the mill so far is that Sony has decided to stick with AMD for the hardware of the next generation PlayStation. In theory this will allow them to stick with the same architecture and simplify the move to the PS5. The shift from PS3 to PS4 involved a complete change of architecture and made it very difficult to implement backwards compatibility and also necessitated a complete re-write of the PlayStation’s operating system. Game developers also had to start from scratch on their dev tools. Using the same architecture and just upgrading the existing hardware should allow for a more powerful console but allow the same operating system to be used and allow PS4 backwards compatibility. Sony updated a patent in February titled ‘Backward compatibility testing of software in a mode that disrupts timing’ which seems to confirm this is the case. This may make the PS5 more of an evolution than a revolution but that may be a very good thing.

The hardware specifics are still pure speculation but many sources are suggesting that under the PS5’s hood will be a proper desktop CPU this time around, an AMD Ryzen CPU with 8 cores and 16 threads. The graphics will be handled by AMD’s next generation Navi GPU, all connected to GDDR6 graphics memory. With specs like this the PS5 should be 4 to 8 times more powerful than the PS4.


This does raise the interesting question of proper full frame rendering of 4K games, will this be enough grunt? In the PC world you need 1080 Ti levels of performance to achieve this and maintain a decent frame rate, yet more rumours suggest that Navi PC cards are about as fast as a 1080 Ti, so this may just be a possibility.

It is fairly certain that the optical drive will stay, but speculation is suggesting it will support UHD-BluRay disks that will allow it to play 4K BluRay movies, but this may be wishful thinking. Also expect the next gen consoles to stick with the trusty old mechanical hard drive for now, flash based SSD’s would push the price of the console up too much.

These specifications are actually very similar to a console that recently appeared in China going by the catchy name Subor-Z. This may well be a sneak peak into the power of the next generation PlayStation and Xbox. The limited testing that has been done on the Subor-Z suggests performance on par with a mid range gaming PC. Replace the GPU with the next gen Navi and upgrade the RAM to DDR6 and you have a PS5, interesting.

Release Date

Sony typically stick with a 6-year release cycle for the PlayStation consoles and the PS4 will have its fifth birthday shortly, November 15 2018. This cycle may have been altered slightly by the release of the PS4 Pro, possibly by a year or two. So going by the past release cycles the PS5 could arrive anywhere between late 2019 and 2020. The chatter around the web is suggesting that there is a 25% chance of a late 2019 release and 75% chance of a 2020 release.

Sony hasn’t let slip regarding the release date, but Sony’s John Kodera said they would use the next three years to crouch down so they can jump higher in the future. Many are taking this to mean a 2021 release date for the next gen console. Or was he just being coy to throw off Microsoft and Nintendo?

Another interesting rumour suggests that third party game developers already have PS5 development kits so games should already be in the works. If this is the case it would suggest a sooner rather than later release date.

Conclusion

With the success of the Nintendo Switch grating both Sony and Microsoft it is no wonder the next generation console rumour mill has started to churn so soon. There is no technological barrier stopping Sony releasing the PS5 next year, this is the advantage of using fairly standard PC hardware, so it is a commercial decision alone that will drive the release and the Switch is definitely applying commercial pressure.

Reference: ExtremeTech – New Subor-Z Console
Reference: HotHardware – AMD’s 7nm Navi GPU Will Reported Offer 1080 Performance
Reference: TechRadar – PlayStation 5 News