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PlayStation 5's biggest features have yet to be announced, Sony says

Sony says it has yet to reveal the PS5's biggest distinguishing features over the PS4.

Published Jan 9, 2020 9:17 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 11:45 AM CST

Sony has been holding back some big PS5 surprises, and SIE president Jim Ryan teases the console's most differentiating features have yet to be revealed.

PlayStation 5's biggest features have yet to be announced, Sony says 9 |

Sony's actually revealed quite a bit about the PlayStation 5 already. The next-gen PS5's most dramatic jump over the PS4 is raw graphical and compute power and blinding-fast loading speeds, both of which are made possible by a powerful new Navi GPU- and Zen 2 CPU-outfitted SoC and custom SSD storage. On paper, the PS5 is similar to the Xbox Series X in terms of functionality.

But apparently there's a lot more to the PlayStation 5. Sony Interactive Entertainment president Jim Ryan hints the best is yet to come, and the PS5 will have "special appeals" not found in any other system.

"Each time a new console is released, the processor and graphics improve. Those are enticing, but we need to have special appeals as well. We have already confirmed the use of an solid state drive. Having load times that are next to nothing is a major change," Sony Interactive Entertainment president Jim Ryan told Business Insider Japan (translated by Gematsu).

"There are still more unique elements for PlayStation 5 to come that separate it from previous consoles. The bigger differences have yet to be announced."

So far Sony has confirmed the following PlayStation 5 features (leaks and other unconfirmed spec info is farther along in the article):

  • Custom AMD SoC with Navi GPU (RDNA) and 8-core, 16 thread Zen 2 CPU
  • Ray tracing support for improved lighting effects
  • Custom ultra-fast SSD
  • 8K gaming support
  • Backwards compatibility with PS4 games
  • 3D audio support
  • New DualShock 5 with improved haptic feedback

So...what's better than zero loading times, higher-end console gaming with expanded frame rates, and 4K-8K resolution support? Honestly we don't know. It'll be hard to top the PS5's current spec sheet and impressive details, but one thing that stands out is backward compatibility.

Backward compatibility is massive for PS5

The PS4 launched without PS3 backward compatibility and was a sore spot for Sony. Instead, PS3 games were streamed to the PS4 via PlayStation Now, but not a lot of people signed up. I've said many times backward compatibility is immensely important for the PS5.

Luckily Sony agrees and confirmed the PS5 will play PS4 games, and we think it'll be the biggest BC endeavor in PlayStation history. Expect every PS4 game to be playable on the PS5.

Sony could go further though. Reports say the PlayStation 5 could be retro-compatible and play every console generation from PS1, PS2, and PS3 games onward. The PS5 could even natively play old-school game discs too.

Then there's claims that every playable PlayStation game could be enhanced on the PlayStation 5 under the misleading nomenclature of a "remastering engine."

We think this is far less likely, but it's possible the PS5 sports a Boost Mode that upscales any supported game while tightening up frame rates. PlayStation 4 games are likely to see more dramatic enhancements on the PS5 though, and we could even see developers update existing current-gen games with ray tracing and optimize them for the new SSD tech.

Leaked info suggests the PS5 has three separate GPU profiles optimized for next-gen and backward compatibility. Two of the profiles downscale the PS5's GPU to natively emulate the PS4 and PS4 Pro.

The unverified PS5 GPU modes include:

  • Gen2 mode - Fully unlocks the Navi GPU at 2GHz for next-gen games
  • Gen1 mode - Downscales the GPU to 911MHz, 218GB/sec bandwidth, and 64 ROPs to emulate the PS4 Pro
  • Gen0 mode - Drops the GPU to 800MHz with 176GB/sec bandwidth and 32 ROPs to emulate the base PS4

It's possible existing PS4 games could run in Gen2 mode and take advantage of aforementioned new features like variable rate shading, ray tracing, native 4K textures, and of course the loading time-destroying SSD.

Other than backward compatibility, Ryan is probably referring to details like:

  • Exact GPU and CPU specifications (compute units, clock speeds, etc)
  • Ray tracing and variable rate shading specifics (lighting effects and new FPS optimization techniques to boost frame rates in-game)
  • More demonstrations on flexible SSD tech (raw speeds, unique functionalities like using SSD as a cache for Virtual RAM)
  • RAM info (GDDR6, bus, etc)
  • New services info

For now we'll just have to wait and speculate what kind of special sauce Sony is brewing up in its hardware kitchens.

Sony is expected to reveal the PS5 in a special event in February 2020. The console will release in Holiday 2020, and it may cost $499.

PlayStation 5 specs and details:

  • Custom SoC with second-gen Navi GPU, Zen 2 CPU
  • 8-Core, 16-thread Zen 2 CPU at 3.2GHz
  • Navi GPU at 2.0GHz with 36 Compute Units
  • Navi, Zen SoC uses new AMD RDNA 2.0 architecture
  • Ultra-fast SSD
  • Support for 4K 120 Hz TVs
  • Ray-tracing enabled
  • 8K output support (for gaming)
  • Plays all PS4 games
  • Separate games that ship on BD-XL Blu-ray discs
  • New controller with extensive haptic and tactile feedback
PlayStation 5's biggest features have yet to be announced, Sony says 5 |

PlayStation 5 Coverage:

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Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

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