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What Will Replace the PlayStation 4?


Jack Gardner

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The console that will replace the PlayStation 4 has officially been glimpsed on the horizon. While none of the next-gen consoles have been officially announced, a number of details have come out regarding what they might be capable of achieving and what the gaming landscape will look like in the next few years. Now, tantalizing new information has been revealed about what Sony has been working on courtesy of Mark Cerny, the device's lead systems architect. 

 

In an interview with Wired, Cerny revealed a treasure trove of new information and even displayed the capabilities of one of the early development kit units that have been sent out to a number of developers currently working on titles for the next-gen system. Perhaps coming as a surprise to many, the name of the new console was not confirmed to be the PlayStation 5, though perhaps Sony's track record with their console naming convention would make that a safe assumption. The new machine won't be releasing this year and it might even be a 2021 release, but even so, what we know about it so far seems fantastic. 

 

Standing in stark contrast to the move away from physical media in Google's Stadia, Apple Arcade, and Microsoft's continuing inclination toward phasing out of discs, PlayStation's next console will play discs. In fact, due to its foundations resting in the design of the PlayStation 4, it will be backwards-compatible with physical PlayStation 4 titles. Also, the next console will support PlayStation's current iteration of PSVR, even if a new version of that hardware releases at a future date.

 

On top of that, the PlayStation 5 will possess the things people most expect from a new console: Improved GPU, an enhanced CPU, more memory, and a greatly increased storage capacity. These improvements will make the device able to support ray tracing, the hot new technique in game development that helps light to reflect more realistically in-game. Cerny expects that ray tracing will have wider applications as more developers make use of it, allowing an increase to audio quality, too.

 

However, the biggest feature the new console will bring to the table is a solid-state hard drive enhanced with proprietary software that makes it perform faster than anything available for PCs. Cerny demonstrated the "low-speed" development kit of the PlayStation 5 for Wired;  the dev unit performed 19 times faster than the PS4 Pro. It reduced load times on the same game from 15 seconds to 0.8 and was able to render the same files in a fraction of the time it took the current hardware. That improvement is largely due to the improved ability of the hard drive to pull data efficiently, aided by the specialized software. Though the current unit was connected to a 4K television, it will be able to output up to 8K resolutions. 

 

Though no new software or cloud gaming strategies were revealed during the interview, Cerny hinted that Sony has plans to compete with Microsoft and Google on that front. Perhaps PlayStation Now might merely be a test run for what the gaming giant has in store for the next generation of hardware? 

 

What features would you like to see included in the PlayStation 5 (or whatever it winds up being called)?

 

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