PS5 Capabilities: A Playground for Players and Developers

The PS5 will boast increases in graphical and auditory fidelity, from ray tracing to 3D audio and a super-fast SSD that will change the landscape of gaming.

PS5 Capabilities: A Playground for Players and Developers

As one of the the biggest jumps in console tech since the PS2, the PS5 has us hyped, especially given they’ve yet to even have a solid release date. Nonetheless, the stream of information that was revealed at Sony’s PS5 event on June 11th is more than enough to keep us going until we can get our hands on the console.

Let’s review what we know about the PS5’s specs Sony has provided us with:

  • CPU: AMD Zen 2-based CPU with 8 cores at 3.5GHz (variable frequency)
  • GPU: 10.28 TFLOPs, 36 CUs at 2.23GHz (variable frequency)
  • GPU architecture: Custom RDNA 2
  • Memory interface: 16GB GDDR6 / 256-bit
  • Memory bandwidth: 448GB/s
  • Internal storage: Custom 825GB SSD
  • IO throughput: 5.5GB/s (raw), typical 8-9GB/s (compressed)
  • Expandable storage: NVMe SSD slot
  • External storage: USB HDD support (PS4 games only)
  • Optical drive: 4K UHD Blu-ray drive

All of this is hugely exciting, but for those interested in what these values actually mean for our gaming experience, let’s unpack what we have.


Image Credit: Unreal Engine

The main thing we’re all excited for is the graphical upgrades. Seven years of progress since the PS4’s release have seen some astounding graphical achievements, so it was about time for something fresh.

Many of us will remember the PS5 Unreal Engine 5 demo that showed some of the joint capabilities of the new hardware and software. Putting Unreal’s nomenclature of ‘Nanites’ and ‘Lumen’ to one side, this demo displayed some truly amazing capabilities. The ability to map billions of triangles across numerous objects allowed for near-photorealistic environments and object textures.

This opens up the doors for developers to not only up their graphical fidelity but also to bring an increasing number of real-world scans into their game creations. We’re finally at a point where both hardware and software are able to deal with the phenomenal amount of data being processed.

This is furthered by the capability for the entire lighting system to be processed in real-time. That means ditching baking lights altogether and providing the player with a reactive, responsive lighting system that can easily be integrated straight into the gameplay. For example, in the demo, they displayed swarms of hundreds of insects dynamically reacting to this new lighting system in real-time.

The PS5 also boasts Ray-Tracing capabilities, super-high resolutions of 4K and even 8K under certain circumstances, as well as HDR (high dynamic range) modes and 120 fps.


Image Credit: Sony

Occasionally, we may forget about the fidelity of audio while playing, when we’re too focused on the graphics. But the PS5’s new 3D audio capabilities are absolutely something to take note of. This builds on what PlayStation had developed for their PSVR system which itself supported up to 50 sources.

If that sounds impressive, the PS5’s audio engine—named the Tempest Engine—can support hundreds of sources. The console’s lead architect Mark Cerny discussed this with the example of raindrops by explaining that currently, rain is usually just a single audio-track but with the Tempest Engine the PS5 has the capability to hear individual raindrops, all as individual sound-sources in relation to the player’s location.

Now, rain might not be the most interesting example of this, but just imagine the depth and immersion that could be achieved by this system when applied to each and every sound you can find in a game world. One example could be a forest, where every chirp and rustle could create a truly lifelike environment.


Image Credit: Sony

A hard drive isn’t always the most exciting piece of hardware, as it is simply the place where our data goes. But the PS5’s custom and seemingly magical 825GB SSD says otherwise. It’s a massive upgrade from the PS4’s HDD, a hard disk drive, to an SSD, a solid-state drive.

SSDs provide significantly faster load times, meaning the PS5 will see, according to Sony, “near instant” load times—bringing you closer to a perfectly seamless gaming experience. Beyond that, as SSDs have far greater speed, they don’t need to preload in elements unnecessarily, allowing for real-time loading which eases the pressure on the RAM. All this will likely result in far fewer texture pop-ins while also allowing for far larger worlds to be traversed without loading screens.

Not only that, but Sony has also promised greater control over game installs, with the potential of installing individual segments of games. For example, a multiplayer-only download, giving you greater options when it comes to optimizing your storage—and with the ever-increasing graphical fidelity, boy we’re gonna need it!


Image Credit: Sony

Although we know very little about it, I’m excited to see the VR offerings the PS5 brings through it’s bulked up hardware and the currently expanding market for VR games. The PSVR was a success, selling over 5 million units worldwide. And with talk surrounding 3D audio, increased graphical fidelity, and a few rogue patents filed by Sony, it seems that PSVR 2 is somewhere on the horizon and definitely something worth looking forward to.

The PS5, and next-gen as a whole, is definitely shaping up to be a huge step forwards and one which developers and gamers alike will be exploring, enjoying, and pushing to its limits for the best part of the next decade.

Related: Stay on top of all the latest PS5 updates here!