Wednesday, March 18th 2020

Sony Reveals PS5 Hardware: RDNA2 Raytracing, 16 GB GDDR6, 6 GB/s SSD, 2304 GPU Cores

Sony in a YouTube stream keynote by PlayStation 5 lead system architect Mark Cerny, detailed the upcoming entertainment system's hardware. There are three key areas where the company has invested heavily in driving forward the platform by "balancing revolutionary and evolutionary" technologies. A key design focus with PlayStation 5 is storage. Cerny elaborated on how past generations of the PlayStation guided game developers' art direction as the low bandwidths and latencies of optical discs and HDDs posed crippling latencies arising out of mechanical seeks, resulting in infinitesimally lower data transfer rates than what the media is capable of in best case scenario (seeking a block of data from its outermost sectors). SSD was the #1 most requested hardware feature by game developers during the development of PS5, and Sony responded with something special.

Each PlayStation 5 ships with a PCI-Express 4.0 x4 SSD with a flash controller that has been designed in-house by Sony. The controller features 12 flash channels, and is capable of at least 5.5 GB/s transfer speeds. When you factor in the exponential gains in access time, Sony expects the SSD to provide a 100x boost in effective storage sub-system performance, resulting in practically no load times.
The secret sauce here is that Sony is using its own protocol instead of NVMe, in supporting 6 data priority tiers versus 2 on NVMe. Each PlayStation 5 ships with an 825 GB SSD, which is expandable using external HDDs over USB, or a selection of third-party M.2 NVMe SSDs certified by Sony. PlayStation 4 games can run directly off your external HDD, but PlayStation 5 games have to be transferred from your HDD to the console's main SSD. Past generations of PlayStation implemented ZLib data compression on Blu-ray and HDD media. PlayStation 5 is implementing Kraken, with hardware-accelerated de-compression via fixed-function hardware built directly into the main SoC.

SoC is where Cerny sounded restrained in what he wanted to disclose. The SoC is a semi-custom chip designed by Sony and AMD, possibly on a 7 nm-class silicon fabrication process. Sony won't specify if it is a monolithic silicon or an MCM, but there are three building-blocks to it: CPU, GPU, and I/O complex. The CPU is based on AMD "Zen 2" x86-64 microarchitecture, and the GPU is based on the company's upcoming RDNA2 graphics architecture.

There are eight "Zen 2" CPU cores, although the company didn't mention if SMT is featured. The maximum CPU clock speed is 3.50 GHz. The GPU is a whole different story from the one on the Xbox Series X Velocity Engine semi-custom chip. Sony decided to go with 36 RDNA2 compute units ticking at up to 2.23 GHz engine clock, compared to 52 compute units running at up to 1.825 GHz on the upcoming Xbox. Sony's GPU ends up with up to 10.3 TFLOPs max compute throughput, compared to Microsoft's 12 TFLOPs.

Sony also shed some "light" on the hardware-accelerated real-time ray-tracing approach AMD is taking with RDNA2. Apparently, each compute unit features a hardware component called "Intersection Engine," with roughly the same function as an RT core on NVIDIA "Turing," which is to calculate the intersection of rays with geometry (such as triangles or polygons) in a scene. This combines with a fairly standardized bounding volume hierarchy (BVH) model to achieve a hybrid of ray-traced elements in an otherwise conventional rasterized 3D scene (pretty much where NVIDIA is right now with RTX). On PlayStation 5, RDNA2's ray-tracing hardware is leveraged for positional audio, global illumination, shadows, reflections, and full ray-tracing.

The third key component of the SoC is the I/O complex. This handles all of the chip's I/O, not just with peripherals and video output, but also storage and memory. There are dedicated I/O co-processors on-silicon designed to reduce the various I/O's processing stack on the CPU cores, and reduce latencies at various stages. There's also a certain amount of SRAM that caches transfers between the various components on the I/O complex. The custom chip leverages AMD SmartShift in power-management.

PlayStation 5 uses 16 GB of GDDR6 memory. Sony did not mention the memory clock, bandwidth, or even the memory bus width. It did drop some hints about memory management. It appears like PlayStation 5 does not partition memory the way Xbox Series X does, and possibly sticks to the hUMA model of the PlayStation 4 (using a common pool of physical memory for system- and video memory).

Lastly, a large chunk of Sony's presentation focused on the next frontier for hardware innovation: positional audio. Sony is investing heavily on positional audio that takes into account the gamer's physical HRTF (head-related transfer function). The company is leveraging the vast amounts of CPU power gained from the upgrade to "Zen 2," to achieve this.
We still don't know what a PlayStation 5 console will look like. Source: Sony Computer Entertainment (YouTube)
Add your own comment

169 Comments on Sony Reveals PS5 Hardware: RDNA2 Raytracing, 16 GB GDDR6, 6 GB/s SSD, 2304 GPU Cores

#51
rutra80
So, Xbox is high throughput and PS is low latency...
Posted on Reply
#52
Fluffmeister
It's hard to get too excited about consoles that won't hit the market until the end of the year, but good to see both ray tracing and VRS are a thang in all our futures.
Posted on Reply
#53
Assimilator
Anyone know when Nintendo will complete the trifecta of trash that will hobble games for the next decade?

ARF
On PC, a SATA SSD is faster in gaming than a PCIe NVMe SSD.
wat
Posted on Reply
#54
ARF
Assimilator
wat


Posted on Reply
#55
LAN_deRf_HA
P4-630
To expand storage you can use regular m2-nvme-ssd's.
It's about the farthest thing from a regular m2. You'll need some currently non-existent gen 4 ssd that's faster than the internal drive and it will have to sustain that performance. Gen 4 drives have been terrible at sustained performance so far. I doubt the new wave of gen 4 controllers will be any better at that.
Posted on Reply
#56
Totally
ARF



When the split is a couple seconds ( 5% ) does it matter in the context of gaming? those seconds saved don't really add up in a meaningful way over time.
Posted on Reply
#57
seronx
But, will the PS5 have Knack 3? All this hardware and no Knack 3?!
Posted on Reply
#58
Flanker
TheLostSwede
Same, yet so different. It's strange that Sony has put so much importance on storage and the SSD, while having what appears to be a much weaker GPU, compared to Microsoft. I guess it's possible that Sony's API (Vulcan?) is more efficient than DirectX, so they don't need as much raw GPU power?
DirectX12 and Vulkan are practically identical, PlayStations have used their own Gnm, which is equally low level as the other two. I'm guessing Sony considers latency and loading times an important part of the gaming experience, at least more than Microsoft does.
Posted on Reply
#59
Rahnak
oxrufiioxo
Sony going with variable clocks at least from my point of view means developers can't depend on those max clocks in all scenarios whether that be power draw or someone sitting in a 30c room vs a 20c room.

it adds a variable to development that doesn't exist on the other console.
Oh, I see. Cerny said temperature won't be a factor to the variable frequency, only workloads, so different ambient temperatures will get the same performance. And he didn't expect them to drop by much, in any case.

[quote=Eurogamer"]
It's really important to clarify the PlayStation 5's use of variable frequencies. It's called 'boost' but it should not be compared with similarly named technologies found in smartphones]
Posted on Reply
#60
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
Well Here comes RDNA RT to PC...
Posted on Reply
#61
gamefoo21
Bah!

Bah!

Apple style SSDs are evil douche moves.
Posted on Reply
#62
dicktracy
RTX 2080 is now the lowest level of performance @ cheap prices from here on out. I wouldn't buy any graphics card today that doesn't exceed that performance with RT capability. Facts.
Posted on Reply
#63
Athena
Funny thing is, AMD had 3D audio a LONG time ago... kicker is, hardly NOBODY EVER USED IT!

It was called AMD TrueAudio. From back in 2013!

Then the newer one was called TrueAudio Next.

A new version of TrueAudio, TrueAudio Next, was released with the AMD Radeon 400 series GPUs. TrueAudio Next utilizes the GPU to simulate audio physics.
Posted on Reply
#64
lynx29
oxrufiioxo
Same here PS5 regardless for me... I personally just like the route at a hardware level Microsoft took. At the end of the day only one of them plays Playstation exclusives so that will be my choice.


Sony going with variable clocks at least from my point of view means developers can't depend on those max clocks in all scenarios whether that be power draw or someone sitting in a 30c room vs a 20c room.

it adds a variable to development that doesn't exist on the other console.
the variable clock also means we are open to stuttering and screen tearing. one benefit consoles have over PC is that everything is a smooth solid experience, until now anyway. I'm leaning towards not buying any console and just getting a rtx 3080 ti and going balls to the wall PC
Posted on Reply
#65
R0H1T
mechtech
16GB GDDR6 ram, whats the current market price on that? GPU, CPU, psu, controllers, SSD size? etc.

Random guess $550 US$ at least
Sony can't sell this at anything below $500 (or just a cent under that) unless they're willing to take massive losses on the BOM. The SSD itself is top of the line & will cost a pretty penny,
Posted on Reply
#66
k3wld00d1
The big difference is 36cu PS5 vs 52cu on the Series X.
Posted on Reply
#67
lexluthermiester
ShurikN
Well, now we definitely know which console is going to be cheaper.
And which one is going to kick the other in the goolies. PS5 looks like the winner on paper.
Posted on Reply
#68
k3wld00d1
ARF
You can't know this. Xbox has 10 GB VRAM + 6 GB system RAM, while normal PCs go ****today**** with 16 GB system RAM and 8 GB VRAM.
It will be particularly interesting to see these consoles in 3-4 years when the games will become more demanding for hardware resources.

12 vs 10.3 is not much of a difference, especially when you have a locked FPS at 60 or so.
do you really believe the PS5 gpu running at 2.23ghz core clock. I don't believe it. PS5 actual 9TF. I'm buying an XSX.
Posted on Reply
#69
notb
R0H1T
Sony can't sell this at anything below $500 (or just a cent under that) unless they're willing to take massive losses on the BOM. The SSD itself is top of the line & will cost a pretty penny,
Since it's a "custom SSD", Sony can always replace it with something cheaper. As long as it offers the same interface and performance - no one is going to complain.
And it's still almost a year until these consoles hit the shelves.

The expensive 7nm CPU/GPU is what really pushes the price up - and the impact is and will remain larger in the Xbox.
Posted on Reply
#70
lexluthermiester
k3wld00d1
I'm buying an XSX.
Ok cool dude, have fun with that...
notb
The expensive 7nm CPU/GPU is what really pushes the price up - and the impact is and will remain larger in the Xbox.
That remains to be seen on both points..
Posted on Reply
#71
ratirt
So Xbox is faster. Maybe Sony is making room for PS5 Pro at some point? Never underestimate the marketing :)
Posted on Reply
#72
ppn
It is a certainty, expect 5, 3nm shrinks every 2 -3 years, PS5 pro, slim, and up to 4608 enabled of 5120 total. PS6 in 2027.
Posted on Reply
#73
Rahnak
k3wld00d1
do you really believe the PS5 gpu running at 2.23ghz core clock. I don't believe it. PS5 actual 9TF. I'm buying an XSX.
Yes, because lying to everyone and them being found out about during early reviews would be a great idea. /s
Posted on Reply
#74
Jism
I wonder why sony choosen for a 825GB model SSD while MS has a 1TB model. Is it perhaps due to overprovisioning and sony wanting to have the SSD a longer life then Microsoft wants?

Many of the tech details are just AMD IP. A Zen+ chip with a RDNA2 feature set GPU. Nothing special.

But it's good for AMD in this as well; its bound to sell millions of consoles with their hardware inside of it. The whole gaming ecosystem will be based upon AMD hardware.
Posted on Reply
#75
Rahnak
Jism
I wonder why sony choosen for a 825GB model SSD while MS has a 1TB model. Is it perhaps due to overprovisioning and sony wanting to have the SSD a longer life then Microsoft wants?
It was just a better fit for their custom 12 channel controller without being too expensive.
Posted on Reply
Add your own comment