Welcome to our PS5 Specifications page, where we talk about the technology that will power the PS5. Our prediction puts the PS5’s release date at 2020. By the time this year rolls around, technology will be in a very different place. We will be capable of doing new and exciting things, and as the system ages, it will evolve more than any PlayStation console before it.
- CPU (Processing Power)
- GPU (Graphics)
- RAM (Memory)
- Hard Drive
- Disc Drive
- Operating System
- Future of Gaming
- Playstation Plus 2.0
- Security and Privacy
Part One: CPU Processing Power
The heart of the PS5 will be the processing power that it uses to create the experiences of the next generation. While we most certainly will address the debate between a physical and cloud-based console, we will first assume that it will be a box packed with hardware.
What hardware you ask? Let’s start with a technology that is aiming for a 2020 release. Known as optical computing, this new technology is set to power exascale optical supercomputers that perform calculations at the speed of light! The basic idea behind this technology involves computers using light instead of electricity for computing.
Internal wiring is replaced with optical waveguides, and transistors are powered by photons instead of electrons. What is more likely is that we’ll see a hybrid device, known as a optoelectronic computer, that will use a mix of the two technologies. The company pioneering this technology is a UK-based business called Optalysys. They plan on having exascale computers on your desk by 2020, which means the PS5 will most likely use this technology to some degree for massively enhanced processing power.
The technology works like so: light is directed through a liquid crystal grid in the same fashion that an LCD television displays images. The beam divides and then reforms on the opposite side, carrying the calculations with it. The process happens at the speed of light. This technology is exciting because it uses very little electricity while boosting performance by a large margin.
What does this power gain us, I hear you asking? Well, additional processing power allows us to fuel things like better graphics, more realistic lighting, and best of all, incredible physics. Yeah, I know what you're thinking: "Why are you so excited about physics? We've gotten them to work pretty well, haven't we?" Well, yes, we've done a decent job, but a limit on our processing power has kept us from truly utilizing real-world physics.
Right now, our games look real, but they don't feel real, and that's where PS5 is going to differentiate itself. Paul Ross, one of the co-founders of Three Fields Entertainment recently spoke about Planning for the next generation now and he made an excellent point about how physics engines haven't evolved in several generations.
"Physics engines haven't changed since I did the physics on TrickStyle for the Dreamcast. They're all about rigid bodies and solid objects. This is a real paradigm shift because it's about simulating physics at a molecular level. It's been a really hard problem to solve for quite a while."
The PS5's pure processing power will offer developers like Paul and his team to create worlds that look real, and more importantly, feel real. This is the kind of evolution we've been waiting for.
Let’s step back, though, and take a look at today’s playing field. With the release of the PS4 Pro, Sony is using AMD’s new Polaris architecture to power their systems. With the success of this generation, it seems like it would be a huge upset for AMD not to be contracted into developing the PS5.
So, assuming AMD does win the bid for the next generation console from Sony, what will they develop for its CPU? The answer could lie in the new Zen processors set to be revealed in 2017.
During a presentation in August of 2016, AMD CEO Lisa Su said “Our focus is on high-performance CPUs and GPUs.” AMD CTO Mark Papermaster also chimed in saying that the new Zen processors are built from the ground up with a focus on “performance, throughput and efficiency.”
They use a 14nm FinFET (3D Transistor) architecture. The engineers at AMD have increased the chip’s instructions per cycle by a cool 40%. They’ve also implemented Simultaneous Multithreading (SMT) which gives them their own version of Intel’s HyperThreading.
This new processor will be far better equipped to handle things like 4K gaming, and VR. While we don’t have clock speeds yet, we do know that the first iteration will be an 8-core, 16-thread desktop chip known as Summit Ridge. This first version is supposed to hit the market in the first quarter of 2017.
Intel is still planning on revealing their seventh-generation Core CPUs soon, which means that competition will continue to be fierce. Could we perhaps see a 12 core processor in the PS5? My current prediction thinks that AMD will spend the next couple years perfecting Zen and making a version of it that can run on consoles with their unique architecture.
Memory - RAM
Now, when I say memory, I don’t mean hard drive space. This is the kind that is used to rapidly store and access data. There are two types of emerging technologies in this field:
- 3D Xpoint (pronounced 3D cross point)
- 3D Stacked RAM
1. 3D Xpoint Memory
Starting with 3D Xpoint memory, let’s talk about how this stuff works. We’re looking at a 3D structured memory that doesn’t use electricity to store data like traditional RAM. Intel is working on this after unveiling it in July of 2015. Both Intel and Micron are working on this technology to make it reality.
This new type of memory is non-volatile and stackable. It can read and write operation without the need for transistor. While this type of memory can only hold one bit of data per cell, Intel is saying that is can create densities up to ten times greater than DRAM. Overall, they are promising 125 times more density than DRAM.
Ultimately, this type of memory allows for less power consumption and much more performance.
2. 3D Stacked Memory
While we’re still several years away from the PS5, there are already rumors swirling that the PS5 will included resistive RAM or 3D stacked RAM. Speculation points to Sony possibly partnering with Micron to add RRAM to the PS5. The argument says that Sony’s shares of stock will shoot up to $50 per share over the next ten years.
It also says that the PS3 will be discontinued within the next few years, which would result in those factories being given to Micron for PS5 RAM production. Research done by Rice University has found a way to manufacture this type of RAM without it being as expensive as it usually would be.
This type of RAM stacks multiple layers upon one another which offers more and more electrodes to store data. This kind of RAM will most likely evolve into a non-volatile version similar to the memory above. That being said, the ability to stack as many as 24 layers or more will be entirely possible by 2020.
Part Two: GPU Graphics and Hardware
Let's start with what we know. Sony just released the PS4 Pro, which brings a second GPU into the mix. The total power it can utilize from this setup is 4.2 teraflops. It uses this to reach resolutions close to 4K through techniques like checkerboard rendering, but it's not native 4K. Meanwhile, Microsoft is promising native 4K with 6 teraflops of power in Project Scorpio/Xbox 2.
So, does that mean PS5 will shoot for 6 teraflops of power as well to match Microsoft? Not quite. You see, Mark Cerny offered his own opinion in an interview, which we covered in a separate post. He believes that you need 8 teraflops for true 4K, so that could easily be the target Sony will aim to hit with PS5.
Of course, rumors are never that simple. We have yet another twist to share, in which analyst Damian Thong predicted that Sony would release a 10 teraflop PS5 system in 2018!
Ten teraflops of GPU power! Holy smokes, can we even do that with today's modern technology? As it turns out, the answer is a resounding yes! Nvidia's 2017 video card, the GTX 1080ti, is able to hit 10.8 teraflops!
Granted, it costs more than a console on its own, but if we're already at this capability, then the sky's the limit in the next few years. It makes me think that Damian Thong's prediction about PS5 could be true, at least in the specs department. Something tells me Sony won't release a new console a year after they released the PS4 Pro.
Assuming that these analysts may be a few year's off, let’s look at the specs we’ll be seeing in 2020:
1. Everything is in 4K UHD
By 2020, all digital content will be presented in 4K resolution. By the time the PS5 releases in 2020, everything from television, to movies, to streaming will be in this ultra high resolution. A recent survey of media executives showed that nearly two-thirds of the respondents said that 4K would be mainstream within the next five years.
Prices are high right now as this emerging technology is hitting the market. As time goes on, the cost of regulating and producing 4K content will go down, as will the prices. This puts the timeline directly in line with the PS5’s release. Given this, the PS5 will absolutely support 4K.
2. Holographic Displays
This may sound ridiculous, but it’s already happening. A California-based company named Ostendo is working on a chipset that has the ability to project video onto a 48-inch diagonal surface. With multiple projections, it could theoretically form complex images.
Let’s not forget about projection keyboards either. HP is also working on a 3D interface for smartphones. Combine this with the potential for the next iPhone to have a holographic interface, and suddenly this science fiction isn’t fiction anymore.
The PS5 can use this type of technology on the controller to showcase maps and messages by displaying them in front of your very eyes. Depending on how much the technology has evolved, you may be able to interact with these 3D projections as well.
3. Photorealistic Graphics
Graphics always take a huge leap forward with each new game console. When the PS5 releases, we’ll be looking at graphics that will possibly be indistinguishable from real life. We’re already seeing this line blurred with game environments, and that’s just the beginning. Games like The Vanishing of Ethan Carter are using a technique called photogrammetry to bring real life objects and settings into the game.
The biggest obstacle we’re facing is human faces. An observations known as the Uncanny Valley describes how we feel a sense of “uncanniness” when we look at someone that seems real, but isn’t quite right. In order to solve this, and other issues like realistic lighting, we’ll have to develop new and more powerful methods.
We’re already making progress with DirectX 12. This is a platform that developers use to make games, and according to Stardock’s CEO, Brad Wardell, DirectX 12 will bring CG-level graphics on PC by 2020. He makes a good point when he says that developers will learn to optimize development and better utilize the console’s resources as time goes on. This is true of any new development platform, but DirectX 12 is poised to bring us into the next level of graphics just in time for the PS5.
A recent interview with PlayStation’s architect, Mark Cerny, revealed his personal predictions for the power needed to run games at a native 4K. In his words, you would need at least 8 teraflops of power to achieve this goal. This could mean that the PS5 is going to have at least this amount of graphical power behind it, which would be impressive.
His comments also directly attack the Xbox 2 (Project Scorpio). This console is promising “true” 4K with only 6 teraflops of power. How are they going to do it? The answer to that remains to be seen, but teraflops aren’t everything.
Part Three: Hard Drive or the Cloud?
In terms of storage, we are at a crossroads. On the one hand, we could continue storing our games and DLC on hard drives. On the other hand, we can stream games from the Cloud and remove the need for a traditional console. It’s hard to say which way it’s going to go. The jump in game’s file size between the PS3 and PS4 was huge.
It’s not uncommon for games to be as large as fifty gigabytes! This number will most likely double or even triple as graphics improve. Looking at hard drive technology, if the PS5 does indeed choose physical storage, we’re looking at 40 Terabyte hard drives by 2020 and 128 Terabyte capacities for SSDs by 2018. Keep in mind, a Terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes!
It seems huge, but the issue with a hard drive is limited space. Sooner or later it will run out. If the PS5 decides to take on the form of a cloud-based console, then there wouldn’t be a limit on space because games would be stored on cloud servers. Think of a cloud-based console as a service like Netflix, but for games.
This would of course remove the need for discs, or even hardware. The downside of course, is that almost perfect internet would be required for something like this to work.
Part Four: Internet in 2020
Right now the major goal is to bring internet to everyone in the world. You may think of the internet as something everyone has, but there’s a majority of the world that still has yet to be connected. Google is already on the task with something called Project Loon where they plan to deliver 3G-speed wireless internet to even the most remote places on the surface of the Earth. The project involves launching balloons 20 miles into the atmosphere to create a global network.
This would be possible through the use of 180 satellites. Of course, other companies like SpaceX and Facebook have their own plans to do the same thing. Facebook, for example, wants to send solar-powered drones to fly around the Earth for years and beam internet access.
Now let’s talk speed. Cloud-based or not, the PS5 needs to have fast internet. The problem is that the current networks in place are hiding behind walls and walls of red tape and politics. The National Broadband Plan is being deployed by the FCC and seeks to get 100-megabit speeds to 100 million American homes by 2020. These kinds of speeds would be a good start. These speeds would also be doubled in large cities where there is a need for faster speeds.
Part Five: Television or VR?
Now that we’ve established the relative internet speeds and what’s going to be in the box, it’s time to start thinking about other specifications. The first that comes to mind is the question of whether we’ll be using televisions or virtual reality headsets to view our games? It’s more than likely that it will be a combination of the two, but let’s examine the future of these technologies.
PlayStation VR is still an infant technology, but it’s quickly showing more and more impressive games. Live demos have been mixed, but if virtual reality is gaining popularity on every front. Assuming it’s successful, the PS5 will most certainly feature a VR element. Again, this all depends on how the current headset performs.
Televisions have always been the primary method of viewing content. While VR may become popular, it will most likely act as a side experience with a television taking the main role. Luckily, televisions are quickly gaining ground with new and exciting technologies. Here are two trends we’ll see come to fruition when the PS5 releases:
1. LG Showcases Paper-thin, Flexible TVs
LG is developing incredible new types of televisions that are thin as paper and flexible as well. They’ve shown an 18-inch model that can be rolled up like a newspaper and sits on a wall using magnets. It’s incredible, and it looks like something out of a science fiction movie. The technology behind it is known as light-emitting organic diodes (OLED).
These are flexible enough to curve in any way that is needed. Think of it as a “wallpaper screen.”
2. Quantum Dot Technology
At its basis, Quantum Dot technology is a new type of LED-backlit LCD TV. While these won’t revolutionize televisions in the way that something like LG’s design could, they do provide an incredible potential for more vibrant colors, especially in 4K resolution. The dots have the ability to emit one color extremely well, and they can be finely tuned to reach whatever hue is needed.
Not only does this represent an increase in picture quality, but it’s also cheaper than an OLED television. This could result in cheaper 4K displays when the PS5 releases. Since the system will most likely use some sort of television screen, it’s important that something like this is in place to get the prices down to where they need to be.
Part Six: A Traditional Controller or Something Different?
The PlayStation’s dualshock controller has evolved into an almost perfect device with the PS4. The PS5 will have a hard time improving on this design, but with the advent of holographic technology, Sony could replace the touchpad with some sort of miniature projector, which would be incredible.
The DualShock 5 will improve on the previous controller with additional precision as well. Some possible changes will involve quantum locked analog sticks that can detect even the smallest movements. Combine this with a holographic projector, and touch-based buttons with tactile feedback, and you have the controller of the future.
The PS5 will most likely have a portable aspect to it. Imagine wearing a VR headset while using your controller as a smart device to control it regardless of where you are. With global internet, you’ll always be connected. A controller that doubles as a smart device is entirely possible when the PS5 releases.
One thing I’ve noticed when watching demos of PlayStation VR, is that they’re using PlayStation Move controllers. These are incredible devices for tracking movement, but they fell off the radar when there wasn’t support. Sony is repurposing them to help immerse you in virtual reality, and I couldn’t be happier.
It’s possible that the DualShock 5 will work in tandem with some sort of enhanced controller like the PlayStation Move. Again, the popularity of such a device has to improve over the years for this to be a possible outcome. Even so, Sony has been known to repurpose technology like the Move, or the Eye Camera in conjunction with new technologies.
Part Seven: Disc Drive or Digital?
The discussion around an optical disc drive for the PS5 revolves around the core concept that games have always been a physical thing. We’ve become more and more comfortable with digital downloads, which is leading people to believe the PS5 may ditch discs altogether.
Blu-Ray sales have been falling in recent years, and experts have declared them a dying format, but there doesn’t seem to be any rush to replace them. That hasn’t stopped new technologies from emerging though. Blu-Rays can hold up to 50 gigabytes, but we’re going to need more space for PS5 games.
Sony and Panasonic are developing a new replacement for Blu-Ray discs. The idea is to fight back against the rise of streaming content. These discs can hold more than 100 gigabytes a piece, which doubles the storage potential. Again though, we run into issues when games grow in size. Are we looking at a return to the days of multiple discs for longer games? The other option is, of course, digital downloads or streaming.
Sony has already been working on this with a service known as PlayStation Now. This is a digital streaming service where you can rent or buy games and play them over an internet connection. It’s not perfect, nor is it immensely popular in comparison to physical discs, but it does show Sony’s interest in the format.
It’s most likely that games will still come on discs for the foreseeable future, but we’re clearly leaning toward a digital-only future. It may not be here by 2020, but it is coming.
Part Eight: The Future of Online Gaming
I want to discuss two potential elements in this aspect of the PS5. Online gaming is huge, and Sony stepped up their game with the new network on the PS4. In order to stay ahead of the game, Sony will most likely go through another revolution when it comes to their online scene. Here are the two major specs for the next gen:
1. Further Social Integration
PS4 brought with it the ability to use a new “share” button to upload video, screenshots, and even stream live. This marriage of social media and gaming is only going to improve and grow over time. The PS5 will utilize the widely available internet of 2020 to keep you connected to your friends and fellow gamers better than ever before.
We’ll talk about how this is possible in a moment, but for now, expect your online life to be intertwined with your gaming life like never before.
PlayStation Plus began as a cool service that gave you free titles each month, but it become so much more since then. Now it fuels Sony’s improved online scene, and it has introduced new concepts like Vote to Play where players can choose which game they want to be the freebie that month.
Take this concept, and combine it with Sony’s willingness to support independent developers, and you have a recipe for the next stage in in PlayStation Plus’ evolution. The PS5 will allow gamers to vote on games they want to see made. If enough interest in shown, Sony will fund the title and give VIP access to Plus members as the game is developed. When it’s released, those who participated will get the game for free.
This kind of crowd-based development will allow for new ideas and games in the spotlight. It also involves gamers much more in the development process.
Part Nine: A Renewed Focus on Security and Privacy
One of the largest hot-button topics right now is the issue of privacy and security. The PlayStation Network has been hacked and taken down more than a few times. Sony will have to show a new and more stable type of security to win back the trust of the consumers.
Right now there are many different ideas in play, but one that has been getting a lot of interest, and funding, is a sort of verification to go online that involves you showing a digital passport. Once you’re online you can do as you like, but this extra step would add another layer of verification. This concept is being developed by DARPA as part of their National Cyber Range Security Programme.
The other option would be a form of two-step verification that uses biometric security. The popularity of biometric security skyrocketed in 2015 from 6 million users to 770 million. Fingerprint authentication is the major player, and this could easily be implemented into the PS5 in order to verify your identity when you sign in.
Part Ten: A Unified Operating System
The final specification ties everything together. Microsoft has been working hard to create a unified operating system in the case of Windows 10, and it’s working. Google Drive also allows you to keep your documents safe and on the cloud regardless of which device you’re using.
Sony has yet to do this on a large scale, but with the growing popularity of services that are device agnostic, Sony is going to develop their own operating system that can work across all kinds of Sony-made devices. Where did this idea come from? Sony recently posted a job for a Senior Game Designer.
The description of the job entailed working on an operating system which gave me this idea. Sony is going to create an operating system like Windows 10 that can work on your PS5, your VR headset, your smartphone, or any other device that Sony creates to work with the PS5.
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
- Arthur C. Clarke
Technology began as a man made idea, it was something that we had concrete control over. As much as we think we know and understand the flow and evolution of technology, we merely set it into motion. Now it has taken on a life of its own. While we're not quite at the stage where computers have more processing power than the human brain, we’re not far off either. The PS5 will be a powerful step in that direction.
Time for You to Weigh In!
We’ve outlined the specs for the PS5, but we’re not done yet! It’s time for you to weigh in and share your own thoughts. What are the top must have specs for you in the PS5? Leave a comment below with your own predictions and thanks for reading!