Sony has announced the first details of its next PlayStation console, but is yet to name it and has confirmed it will not be launched this year.
In an interview with Wired magazine in the US, system architect Mark Cerny, who was instrumental in the design of the PlayStation 4, revealed that the machine will feature an eight-core CPU based on the third generation of AMD’s Ryzen processors, and a custom graphics processor based on the forthcoming AMD Navi family, which will be capable of real-time ray tracing, an effect that simulates the path of light through a scene, allowing for incredibly realistic and complex reflections, refraction and shadows. The effect is common in CGI movies, but real-time ray tracing is only just appearing in modern PC graphics cards.
The next-generation PlayStation is also set to include a solid state drive, replacing the hard disc drive usually found in games consoles, which Cerny claims will lead to faster game downloads, faster graphics rendering and shorter loading times within games.
Cerny is also promising a custom AMD sound chip to provide 3D audio and says the new machine with support virtual reality, at first via the current PlayStation VR headset, but later possibly via a new next-gen headset. Support for 8K televisions is also likely.
While Google and Apple have announced cloud-based gaming subscription services, and Microsoft has its own Project xCloud streaming service, it seems Sony is committed to physical game sales – the next generation PlayStation will still have games on discs. It will also be backward compatible with PS4 titles, though there are no details on how many games will be supported and how.
A select number of studios are already working with development kits for the new console, though no titles or service details have yet been announced. For the first time, Sony is not holding a press conference at this year’s E3 event in Los Angeles, but may well hold its own press event later in the year.
In an industry increasingly moving away from dedicated platforms, filled with high-end hardware and supporting physical media, and towards digital-only streaming and subscription models, the next generation PlayStation seems at this stage to be something of an anachronism.
But as Sony showed at the famous E3 of 2013, just after the Xbox One was announced and seemed to be concentrating on a complex digital-first model, it is highly in tune with its core audience of dedicated players. With 90m PlayStation 4 units sold since the machine launched over six years ago, the old recipe of custom hardware, exclusive games and backward compatibility seems to still have legs.
This story originally appeared in The Guardian. Image courtesy of Toru Hanai/Reuters.