The Xbox Series X's 1.7TFLOP and 16 CU lead over the PlayStation 5 isn't all that substantial--at least that's what game developers tell Kotaku's Jason Schreier.
While gamers are scrutinizing Sony's next-gen console power, unnamed developers are praising the PlayStation 5 behind the scenes. Sony delivered a rather droll yet fascinating talk about the PS5, detailing GPU, CPU, RAM, and most importantly, SSD specs and made some big promises. But there's a sizable power discrepancy between the Xbox Series X and PS5. Microsoft's new Xbox is roughly 17% more powerful than the PS5 in terms of raw GPU TFLOP performance, and has 52 compute units versus the PS5's 36 CUs. That power differential may not be as meaningful to developers as you think.
In a recent Splitscreen podcast, industry journalist Jason Schreier, who has a close ear to game developers, said numerous devs are very excited about the PS5. The console isn't vastly inferior to the Xbox Series X, and the PlayStation 5 will hold its own in ways that haven't been outlined yet. Sony simply needs to have developers talk about the console and show us what the PS5 can really do.
Bear in mind the following quotes were said in an offhand way, and are meant to highlight the general consensus of what certain developers are saying. We have no idea who these developers are, or what games they're working on, but given Schreier's position we should expect them to be all across the spectrum.
The quotes are second-hand paraphrases of what developers are saying about the PS5.
"The people that I've been talking to over the past few months and the past couple of years who are actually working on the PlayStation have pretty much unanimously all said 'this thing is a beast, it's one of the coolest pieces of hardware we've ever seen before, that we've ever used before.' There are so many things here that're revolutionary, so many behind the scenes tools and features and APIs."
"The general consensus is that both of these consoles are extremely powerful and are both very similar in a lot of ways and both also do different things in really cool ways. These are both extremely impressive pieces of technology. But because of the way Sony has actually presented and marketed the PS5, now the narrative is Xbox is way more powerful than the PlayStation. I think that's such a fatal flaw on Sony's part for this console generation.
"What I'm hearing from people who are actually working on these consoles is that the Xbox is not significantly more powerful than the PlayStation despite the TFLOPS numbers, and that the TFLOPs might be a useful measurement in some ways, but ultimately it's a theoretical max speed and there's so many things that could come between.
"I'm getting DMs from developers all the time saying it's a shame because the PS5 is superior in all these other ways that they're not actually able to reveal right now. I've heard from at least 3 different people since the Cerny presentation that the PS5 is actually the more superior hardware in a lot of different ways despite what we're seeing on spec sheets.
"A technically-minded person I talked to who actually focuses on this stuff told me 'it's going to be hard to actually market this stuff because it's very hard to convey what makes a difference.'"
One developer says the Xbox Series X's power lead is pretty huge, though.
Ex-Killzone dev Chris Grannell says the new Xbox has a "staggering" jump over the PlayStation 5.
By all accounts I'd expect the Xbox Series X to be the most developer friendly thanks to its robust API toolsets and scaling solutions. Devs can make one game that's compatible with all versions of Xbox consoles, and Smart Delivery optimizes any enhancement upgrades.
Ultimately though these two consoles are extremely similar.
They both feature PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe M.2 SSDs with customized hardware, they both have hardware-based decompression on a custom I/O block, they both utilizes AMD's new RDNA 2 GPU architectures and flexible Zen 2 CPUs, and they both use 16GB GDDR6 memory.
Yes, the overall performance values are different. The CPU, GPU, and even memory bandwidths are all different, as is the SSD speeds (Sony's PS5 is a lot faster than the Xbox Series X's, but the Xbox Series X has a beefier GPU and more compute units that'll help delivery better raytraced games). But when it comes down to it, both systems are going to be alike and unique at the same time, and it goes beyond just video game selection. Until we hear more from developers it'll be hard to determine which one is "better," and even then, it'll be subjective.
Sony simply needs to match Microsoft's transparency and reveal a bunch of new info about the PlayStation 5. We need to see the console, to see games running on it, and hear what actual third-party devs have to say--not just first-party teams.
Until that happens, the narrative will favor the Xbox Series X...and rightly so, because Microsoft has made a tremendous effort for clarity this time around.
The PS5 will release in Holiday 2020, and it may cost $499.
Check below for more info on everything we know about the PlayStation 5 so far:
PlayStation 5 specs and details:
- Custom SoC with second-gen Navi GPU, Zen 2 CPU
- 8-Core, 16-thread Zen 2 CPU at 3.5GHz
- Navi 2X GPU with 36 CUs on RDNA 2 at 2.23GHz
- Ultra-fast 825GB SSD with up to 9GB/sec speeds
- Support for 4K 120 Hz TVs
- Ray-tracing enabled
- 8K output support (for gaming)
- Plays PS4 games, BC is on a title-to-title basis
- Separate games that ship on BD-XL Blu-ray discs
- New controller with extensive haptic and tactile feedback
PlayStation 5 Coverage:
- Sony's PS5 talk wasn't enough--for next-gen, seeing is believing
- Only PlayStation 5 next-gen exclusives will tap SSD's full potential
- PlayStation 5 may play thousands of PS4 games at launch
- PS5's boost mode is so powerful that some PS4 games can't handle it
- PS5 won't play PS1, PS2 or PS3 discs, 100 PS4 games supported at launch
- Understanding the PS5's SSD: A deep dive into next-gen storage tech
- PlayStation 5 won't use memory cards, supports third-party SSDs
- PlayStation 5 specs: 10TFLOPs Navi RDNA 2 2.23GHz GPU, 3.5GH Zen 2 CPU
- PlayStation 5 SSD speeds hit 9GB/sec with custom 12-channel controller
- PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X ray tracing is easily scalable for devs
- Report: PlayStation 5 Pro and base PlayStation 5 coming in 2020
- 60FPS on next-gen PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X 'is much easier'
- PlayStation 5 specs confirmed by Sony: 10TFLOPs Navi RDNA 2 2.23GHz GPU, 3.5GH Zen 2 CPU
- PlayStation 5 could use Samsung's 980 QVO SSDs
- PlayStation 5 is beating Xbox Series X in dev kit form right now
- Hardly any devs are making next-gen PS5, Xbox Series X games
- Sony working on new horror IP for PlayStation 5
- PlayStation 5 devkit UI possibly leaked
- Leaked PlayStation 5 concepts show weird X-shaped case
- Sony's first-party PS4 exclusives are coming to PC
- PlayStation 5's new DualShock 5 may be usable on PS4
- Sony skips E3 2020, has two major events planned for February
- Next-gen console exclusives will be few and far between through 2021
- PlayStation 5's biggest features have yet to be announced, Sony says
- PS4 has sold over 1 billion games and 106 million consoles
- PlayStation 5 backward compatibility should support every PS4 game
- Sony reveals the PlayStation 5...logo
- New trapezoidal PS5 render is an expensive accident waiting to happen
- A $399 PlayStation 5 will conquer next-gen
- PlayStation 5 to outsell Xbox Series X in 2020, analyst predicts
- PS5 may only enhance PS4 games, legacy PS1, PS2 and PS3 games unlikely
- PlayStation 5 prototype dev kit console gets V-shaped clean
- Sony: The future is coming at CES 2020
- PlayStation 5 GPU: 9.2 TFLOPs with 36 custom Navi compute units
- PlayStation 5 GPU emulates PS4, PS4 Pro with special modes
- PS5, Xbox Series X SSD may use software-defined flash to boost speeds
- PS5's SSD is 'exceptionally powerful,' may beat Xbox Series X speeds
- DualShock 5 renders show new trigger design, USB-C, ergonomic shell
- PlayStation 5 to support 8K gaming, Sony confirms
- New PlayStation 5 renders show off radical different design, again
- Leaked PlayStation 5 ad prices console at $1,000, is totally fake
- Sony seeks a new Head of Strategy for Worldwide Studios
- Leaked PlayStation 5 devkit photos show new DualShock controller
- PS5, Xbox Scarlett SSD may use Optane-like ReRAM to supercharge speeds
- NVIDIA G-Sync monitors to improve PlayStation 5 and Xbox Scarlett
- PlayStation 5: Everything We Know So Far
- PlayStation 5 confirmed to have 8C/16T Zen 2 CPU from AMD
- PS5, Project Scarlett may use Samsung's 6th gen V-NAND NVMe SSDs
- PS5 backward compatibility confirmed, will play PS4 games
- Sony's next-gen PlayStation 5 has 4K 120Hz output support
- PS5, Project Scarlett to hit over 10TFLOPs of power, sources say
- PS4 will be supported into 2022, to live alongside PS5
- Sony: ultra-high-speed SSD is 'the key' to next-gen PS5
- PS5 dev kit rumor: 'ultra-fast RAM', Navi GPU with 13 TFLOPs
- PlayStation 5 rumored to ship with 2TB of super-fast SSD for $499
- Insider: PlayStation 5 dev kit faster than Xbox Scarlett right now
- PS5 cartridges aren't real, patents are for Sony kids toys
- PS5's SSD may benefit PS4 games the most
- PS5 powered by Navi in 2020, AMD making Navi with Sony input
- Cloud-powered PlayStation controller may let you play free game demos
- Gran Turismo 7 is a PlayStation 5 launch title: launches Nov 20, 2020
- PS5 confirmed to support 8K video, ray tracing, all on Navi
- PlayStation 5 rumored to cost $499, launches November 20, 2020
- PlayStation game demos are coming back with Sony's ambitious new plan
- PS5 controller: Built-in mic, USB-C, no lightbar, ergonomic design
- PlayStation 5 concept video shows totally new design
- Sony solves PS5's biggest issue
- Sony: PS5 development going according to plan
- New Viking Assassin's Creed may be next-gen console launch game
- AMD working on 'secret sauce' for next-gen Xbox/PlayStation
- The first real photo of a PlayStation 5 dev kit appears
- Next-gen PS5/Xbox Scarlett open-world game: 'best real-time graphics'
- Sony restructures workforce to prepare for PS5
- PlayStation VR 2: built-in cameras, wireless, ready for PS5
- PS5 games will ship on 100GB Blu-ray BDXL discs
- PS5 and Xbox Scarlett will both handle ray tracing differently
- PlayStation 5 could feature AI-powered 'PlayStation Assist'
- Sony won't abandon singleplayer story-driven games on PS5
- PS5 rumor: GPU is nearly as powerful as RTX 2080, GPU clocked at 2GHz
- PlayStation 5 rumored to be unveiled on February 12, 2020
- Sony to raise PS5 cost thanks to U.S. tariffs