Seeing as Sony isn't planning on attending E3 this year and also cancelled their PlayStation Experience event for 2018, we hadn't been expecting any news on a new console. Imagine our surprise when Wired has today published an interview with PlayStation's Lead System Architect Mark Cerny as he goes into detail on what players can expect from the next PlayStation console, including backward compatibility with PS4 games and SSD storage — though the console definitely won't be arriving in 2019.
Firstly, the "PlayStation 5" moniker is certainly not definite, nor will we see it at any point this year despite the fact the console has been in development for four years already. The console will not just be an upgrade like the PlayStation 4 Pro — it will be a separate console generation. Cerny has dropped more specifics on what we can expect. In terms of technology:
The CPU is based on the third generation of AMD’s Ryzen line and contains eight cores of the company’s new 7nm Zen 2 microarchitecture. The GPU, a custom variant of Radeon’s Navi family, will support ray tracing, a technique that models the travel of light to simulate complex interactions in 3D environments.Sound will also be getting a significant upgrade because the "AMD chip also includes a custom unit for 3D audio" as sound comes at players from all directions even if only using the TV audio and "visual surround sound". Headphone audio is being considered as the “gold standard”.
The console will also make use of a very fast high-end SSD drive with a "raw bandwidth higher than any SSD available for PCs". Cerny demonstrated the difference between the new SSD and the current capability of the PS4 Pro by fast-travelling within Marvel's Spider-Man. What took 15 seconds on the PS4 Pro took just 0.8 seconds on the new console. The in-game camera could move much faster. The graphics are also much crisper. The console will be able to support 8K graphics, even though TVs that can handle this are hard to come by.
Of course, the above demonstration shows that the new console will at least be backwards compatible with PlayStation 4 titles because it is based in-part on that console's architecture. Backwards compatibility with other systems was not confirmed. The console will not be digital only — there will still be physical games. Also, like all console launches, the first few games to arrive on the system will be available on both PlayStation 4 and the new console. One of the possibilities for this is Hideo Kojima's DEATH STRANDING. As Cerny states:
A number of studios have been working with [the new console], though, and Sony recently accelerated its deployment of devkits so that game creators will have the time they need to adjust to its capabilities.Finally, Cerny wouldn't be drawn on whether there would be a new PlayStation VR headset to accompany the console, but he did say that the current PSVR headsets would still be supported on the new console. As for cloud gaming, Sony's strategy for that remains to be seen, but more news has been promised on both PSVR and cloud gaming in the future.