Gaming fans have had to wait a long time for news about the next console from PlayStation. But the company’s chief architect, Mark Cerny, who was instrumental in the development of the PlayStation 4, has finally provided some details hinting at what we can expect.
The console – widely referred to as the PlayStation 5, although an official name has yet to be announced – is not due to be released in 2019. When it does arrive on the market, however, the PlayStation 5 will have much reduced loading times, immersive audio capabilities and a special effects system that will better simulate complex 3D situations.
One of the most exciting revelations is the addition of a storage device known as a solid-state drive (SSD), which allows games to load faster. Cerny estimates that, in some circumstances, what might once have taken 15 seconds to load could be reduced to 0.8 seconds. In a statement, Sony said: “An ultra-high-speed SSD is the key to our next generation, and our vision is to make loading screens a thing of the past, enabling creators to build new and unique game-play experiences.”
The console will be fitted with an eight-core GPU, based on the third generation of AMD’s Ryzen line. This supports ray tracing, a system used by many of Hollywood’s special effects teams. This will be the first time the technology has been incorporated into a games console.
Ray tracing creates more realism, as it mimics the way light moves from object to object and off reflective surfaces. But the benefits are not purely visual. "If you wanted to run tests to see if the player can hear certain audio sources or if the enemies can hear the players' footsteps, ray tracing is useful for that," Cerny said in an interview with Wired. "It's all the same thing as taking a ray through the environment."
The audio in general is expected to be much improved in the new console with sounds coming at you from all sides. “As a gamer, it's been a little bit of a frustration that audio did not change too much between PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4," Cerny said. "With the next console the dream is to show how dramatically different the audio experience can be when we apply significant amounts of hardware horsepower to it.”
But perhaps the best news for PlayStation fans is that PlayStation 4 games will be compatible with the console, so even though we don’t yet know how much the PlayStation 5 will cost, at least you won’t have to replace all your old games as well.