Right out of nowhere, Sony has officially confirmed the next-generation PlayStation. They’ve dropped an exclusive chat with Wired, featuring none other than PS4 lead architect Mark Cerny, who’s also at the helm for the next-gen console.

Cerny has dropped the motherload of information on the upcoming console as well, talking specs, release date, VR plans, and just about everything you could hope to know. This will be more than a mere upgrade, Cerny has promised. The PS4 Pro has muddied the waters somewhat here, but the PS5 will be a far more significant leap in performance.

“The key question,” Cerny said, “is whether the console adds another layer to the sorts of experiences you already have access to, or if it allows for fundamental changes in what a game can be.”

The next-gen console will be launching in 2020 and devkits have been in some developers’ hands for some time. Sony has also recently accelerated the rates at which it’s sending PS5 devkits out.

First things first, those all-important specs. The rumours and leaks have all been bang on the money. The PlayStation 5 will use a custom AMD chip. The CPU is based on AMD’s Ryzen processors, using a custom 8-core/16-thread 7nm Zen 2 chip. This is surely far, far beyond the capabilities of the Jaguar chip used in the PS4, even without knowledge of the clock speeds.

Moving on to the GPU, and we’re looking at a custom Radeon Navi 7nm GPU. Details are thin on the ground here but it will support real-time ray tracing. Incidentally, this also provides a confirmation of sorts that the upcoming desktop Navi graphics card will also support DXR.

The PS4 will be sticking with AMD as their main hardware manufacturer.

Cerny also touts a custom 3D audio chip that he believes can redefine audio in games. It’s really difficult to gauge just what this could mean, although a feeling a of “presence” that isn’t felt now will be key. Good audio is good audio, but whatever’s going on here seems to be related to a quality headphone gaming experience.

Now here’s where things get a bit more interesting again. The next-gen PlayStation 5 will ship with a large SSD as standard. It has a “raw bandwidth higher than any SSD available for PCs”. Cerny hasn’t said exactly how large, but the spec leak that’s been circulating recently suggested 2TB total storage, possibly shared between an SSD and traditional HDD storage.

During a demo with Wired, Cerny showed Spider-Man running on a PS4 alongside a PS5 devkit. On the PS4 it took 15 seconds to load, while on the PS5 it took 0.8 seconds. This advancement also lends itself to faster world renders. In Spider-Man, Spidey’s swing speed is limited by the speed at which the world can be rendered in, yet on the PS5 it can all be loaded in ultra-fast while traveling at faster speeds.

And now for the other bits and bobs:

  • The PlayStation 5 will be fully backward compatible with the PS4. No word on older PlayStation consoles yet.
  • Cross-gen launch games are in the works. This probably includes Death Stranding.
  • PSVR will work with the PS5. It sounds as if PlayStation VR 2  is also in development.
  • It will be launched in 2020.
  • No pricing just yet, although rumours persist it will be around $499.
  • Sony has been building the PS5 for four years.
  • Will support up to 8K output.

And that’s it for now. With the announcement now out in the open, it’s probably not going to be long until we see a proper reveal of the hardware itself.

What are your initial thoughts on the specs then, has Sony got a beast on its hands? Could ray-tracing be set to go mainstream? Let us know what you think!

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