"Sony rules with an iron fist": PS5 Pro leaks and more with Moore's Law is Dead

By Kes Eylers-Stephenson,
Tom from Moore's Law is Dead talks hardware day in, day out. He is always hunting insider information related to semiconductor manufacturing from companies to enhance his opinions on future technology. It should be no surprise, then, that he has sources that confirmed the PS5 Pro is being worked on and that he has plenty of insight into what this machine could look like. Having heard Tom speak with his brother about the topic on the Broken Silicon podcast and having written an article on his words, we reached out and he kindly agreed to an interview with us to talk about all things PS5 Pro.

moores law is dead ps5 pro interview

"My understanding is that Sony rules with an iron fist with their partners and they can be — this will surprise nobody — arrogant sometimes," Tom says. Throughout our interview, it is clear that secrecy is the crux of Sony's PlayStation operations. "Sony values secrecy more than Microsoft, or — at the very least — they act like they care more." That can make it very hard to get exact details out of the factories and offices where the products are made and designed, but it does give us plenty more to discuss. Please, bear in mind that Tom stresses that much of these details are applicable to the "Xbox Series X 2023 Edition. This isn't me hyping up PlayStation — Xbox is [also] working on a refresh."

When asked about the PS5 Pro hardware, Tom is very clear: "both [Sony and Microsoft] are working with AMD on next-gen APUs, and I’m sure." Tom is willing to confirm that "there will be at least one mid-console refresh two/three years from now." Tom has his source or sources that have apparently told him the machine is being made with a target of two to three years from now. His opinion is that 2023 is the likely year for the PS5 Pro, but it is still early in development.

There are several key barometers for Tom's opinion. "This year Sony is doing a redesign for cost. Next year, I think there is evidence there could be a slightly slimmer console, or at least a 6nm chip-based cost reduction — although, I can't confirm it. 2023 is the year, then, that it makes sense to bring in a stronger unit — this would be after RDNA 3 is out on PC, and near enough to RDNA 4 for some updates to be considered from that architecture, like Sony used some of 2017's Vega in the 2016 PS4 Pro."

There has been scepticism around the mere principle of a PS5 Pro, mostly based on Sony releasing a console refresh when, at this moment, stock trouble and shipping issues are preventing access to the device for many gamers. When asked about it, Tom doesn't even blink. "What you are saying is quite funny. Me and my brother, on Broken Silicon, talk about this all the time. It just seems that most people have trouble following moving targets. I didn’t say that the Pro was coming out this year. Everyone says we have PS5 stock problems. Yeah, right now, not in 2023, guys!"



With a solid track record, it isn't just his sources and reasoning making sense: "[I leaked] Intel RocketLake and Cypress Cove, RaptorLake, my RDNA 2 leak from late last year where I was almost 100% accurate from start to finish of the entire AMD lineup. I would just say: look at that!"

If, or rather when, a PS5 Pro hits shelves, what does the well-versed podcaster think we are going to be purchasing? "I think you are looking at something 50% to 100% stronger. They aim for a $700 price point, though? I mean, I could see them really making something crazy powerful. It all comes down to higher resolutions and frame rates, I think."

"I expect [Sony] to at least double GPU performance, or even higher if they charged $700 and waited till late 2023. However, I wouldn't be sure they will go that higher. [I would expect them to] add more RAM, effectively increase bandwidth by at least 100% (this could just be an addition of an infinity cache), increase CPU performance by 20% plus," says Tom. "This would be enough for easy 4K/120fps with current graphics, and 8K/60fps in many games if Sony wants to market that for their new TVs." Remember, though: "games get more complex, games get harder to run. It is a moving target."

"However, we can't rule out a more modest upgrade if that's the direction they want to go. I know this sounds like I am saying a million things at once, but you have to understand that it's early and that Sony could be considering radically different designs," Tom goes on to say. "If Sony wanted to keep costs low and simply do a modest upgrade for a $499 MSRP, then I actually would only expect it to be 50-80% better, and possibly not even increase RAM. But if they went for a $599 price point, I think they could launch something quite powerful. In fact, a $599 PS5 Pro would look really good next to a $299 PS5 Slim Digital in 2023!"

ps5 console

That all being said, it is not even like Sony feels particularly happy about the idea of a Pro. "As far as I was told, as of a year ago, there were no plans yet for a PS5 Pro and that Sony hated the idea. And they hated launching the PS4 Pro too, they didn’t want to. It just made sense."

When asked if this was almost like a forced hand, where Microsoft and Sony push one another into technological iterations, Tom clarifies for me: "I don’t think it was forced, so much as they realised that it would be common sense. With the PS4 Pro, it cost almost nothing to die shrink the APU and fill up the saved space. From that perspective, it shouldn’t surprise anybody that the PS5 might have a Pro. Though, things have changed since last gen — a PS5 Pro that's 2-3x the performance of a PS5 Base would definitely cost more, due to TSMC 5nm costing more than 7nm," Tom reasons. "So, in two years the iteration will happen. Again, two years is a long time — what games were you playing two years ago?"

A big thank you to Tom for speaking to us! The Moore's Law is Dead team is up and running with a Patreon, so if you enjoyed his unique voice in the games industry, check out his content!

We have two more chunks of this interview coming out, one about the way games will be adjusting to new hardware and one about the state of Xbox backwards compatibility. The full transcript is readable down below with plenty of extra details about the PS5 Pro, the Series X, and Moore!

ps5 console design

TrueTrophies — Kes: Hello! So, what do you do on Moore's Law is Dead?

Moore's Law is Dead — Tom: I talk about whatever semiconductor hardware I want and usually, that means gaming. I call Broken Silicon a gaming hardware podcast. We talk about Intel Zion, AMD, Epic, and non-gaming stuff all the time, so it’s really just anything related to gaming or silicon we want to talk about, and usually, that means graphics cards or consoles.

When you talk about the video game industry with a hardware focus, how does it affect your coverage?

I wouldn’t be talking about any of [the hardware] if I didn’t like playing video games. That is obviously what made me curious. What got me into it, frankly, was just seeing people at school arguing about which console was better. Then going down a rabbit hole online looking at the specs, and yeah, 90% of these people have no idea what they are talking about. I just wanted to know what it actually is, what is actually better than what… and that translates into graphics cards and consoles. I’ve never tried to be a bridge [between tech and gaming] — I just talk about what I want to talk about. I know not to go too in-depth, to where, frankly, it would be above my head. I think that is why it acts as a good bridge for a lot of people. It’s not like I started out trying to do that.

[Focusing on tech] just makes me kind of understand why some of these decisions are made. [...] Most people have surface-level answers. Me focusing on hardware means that when people are like: “Why wasn’t the Xbox One stronger?” Well, it focused on having 8GB of RAM, Sony focused on performance. Microsoft didn't know that GDDR5 would have double the capacity at the prices it did at the last minute. Sony was able to double the RAM they had last minute; the PS4 was going to have 4GB [before they doubled it]. Microsoft couldn’t do anything. Once you have silicon designed for the actual APU, that’s it, you are locked in. [Microsoft] was forced to decide if they would remove the camera and make it $350, or [would they] just launch a weaker console? They were forced to launch a weaker console, they couldn’t just make it stronger. So, talking to industry experts like Daniel Nenni at SemiWiki.com people, who actually work at these foundries, it allows me to just tell you: yeah, the PS5 can’t easily do PS3 backwards compatibility. [Sony] are not just “lazy” like you usually see in the forums.

Previously, you have spoken about the PS5 Pro with such confidence in a 2023 release date. So, let's open with what you have heard about the PS5 Pro and when can we expect to see it?

Tom: There will be at least one mid-console refresh 2-3 years from now. Keep in mind it's still a bit early to be sure of the exact year both will have something stronger. This year Sony is doing a redesign for cost. Next year I think there is evidence there could be a slightly slimmer console, or at least a 6nm chip-based cost reduction — although, I can't confirm it. 2023 is the year, then, that makes sense to me to bring in a stronger unit — this would be after RDNA 3 is out on PC, and near enough to RDNA 4 for some updates to be considered from that architecture, like Sony used some of 2017's Vega in the 2016 PS4 Pro.

Yeah, it’s funny that you say “confidence with which I said it.” When I know something, that is kind of what makes a lot of my content stick: I just say it if I’m sure. Can I ask: from your perception, is anyone doubting it?

Kes: I think so, yeah. The educated guess, particularly from people who are already interested in the industry, is “yeah, of course, it will happen!” But, I don’t think anyone had thought why or when. Everyone is so fixated on the base PS5 hardware, it seems like — and I haven’t read everything — that there is almost a blank slate attitude: “let’s get over the PS5 base problems before we start thinking about the Pro.” So, you saying “it is coming in 2023,” was almost this shock to the system: “ah yes, of course, Sony are going to that!” I think that that is where the doubt comes from, because a lot of people haven't got their hands on even the basic hardware yet. So, the stretch to Pro raises questions. But, of course, it is already in Sony’s thinking even though I know they have said otherwise at some point.

Tom: What you are saying is quite funny. Me and my brother, on Broken Silicon, talk about this all the time. It just seems that most people have trouble following moving targets. I didn’t say that the Pro was coming out this year. Everyone says we have PS5 stock problems. Yeah, right now, not in 2023, guys! This type of thing keeps popping up over and over and over. In a now-deleted video back in 2018, I said that the PS5 is definitely going to have 16GB of RAM, it’ll have an 8-core zen processor, and it’s going to be at least as strong as a 2080, probably stronger. What happened? Well, [those specs] happened. Back in 2018, however, everybody said how is that possible? How could we have something with an SSD? They are so expensive. How could we have something this strong? A 2080 Ti is $1200 dollars. And it is like, yeah… then! Not in two years.

From my perspective, the only reason someone should be surprised is simply because people on the internet aren’t leaking it on the internet yet. Because the PS4 Pro happened, because the Xbox One X happened, I just kinda thought a year ago that we would for sure have rumours right away… almost that Sony would be planning ahead of time. As far as I was told, as of a year ago, there were no plans yet for a PS5 Pro and that Sony hated the idea. And they hated launching the PS4 Pro too, they didn’t want to. It just made sense.

So, the PS4 Pro was a forced hand, was it?

Well, it came before the One X. I don’t think it was forced, so much as they realised that it would be common sense. [With the PS4 Pro], it cost almost nothing to die shrink the APU and fill up the saved space. From that perspective, it shouldn’t surprise anybody that the PS5 might have a Pro, or that the Xbox Series X [might have an update]. I’ve been thinking that Microsoft might want to call it X2023, or something like that, just because the fact that [Microsoft] calls it an Xbox Series makes you think that they are just going to be just constantly iterating. Though, things have changed since last gen — a PS5 Pro that's 2-3x the performance of a PS5 Base would definitely cost more due to TSMC 5nm [chips] costing more than 7nm.

I don’t know why you’d be surprised that there would be an update — there was last-gen — and I don’t know why people would be that surprised that Sony would want to do it later rather than sooner. They kind of have to if Microsoft is going to, and 100% Microsoft is going to. So, in two years the iteration will happen. Again, two years is a long time — what games were you playing two years ago?

What is your confidence level in the source? What made you willing to say that this is a deadset?

Whenever I get asked a question like this, I’m not going to say who the source is, or how many there are [if assuming] it is not just one person. I’ll even go as far as to say that when I say he or she, you shouldn’t assume it is actually a he or a she. That is because if I was consistent in where these sources were — sometimes I am clear that this is the source from another leak — but if I always did that, these companies could pinpoint who that person is.

What I will say is I’m sure both [Microsoft and Sony] are working with AMD on next-gen APUs, and I’m sure. It’s not up to me if they actually release them, or when they come out, but I’m sure they are working on them and the current cycle is two to four years. Again, what you saw last-gen — anyone who doubts that, go look at WhoLeaked. [I leaked] Intel RocketLake and Cypress Cove, RaptorLake, my RDNA 2 leak from late last year where I was almost 100% accurate from start to finish of the entire AMD lineup. I would just say: look at that! I would hope that that speaks for itself, late 2020 and onwards I’ve got good at this. I was a bit clumsy in the beginning. That’s all I can say, I mean, why would you doubt it? They are working on [the PS5 Pro]!

With the 6nm chip, we are potentially looking at a PS5 Slim in 2022?

Those rumours didn’t come from me [they came from DigiTimes], so I can’t 100% confirm that I know anything about a 6nm PS5. What I can be 100% sure of is that it is public knowledge that TSMC has announced that they want their partners to move from 7nm to 6nm. They are design compatible, it’s cheaper, it’s more efficient. I don’t need a source to tell you that TSMC is telling Sony to do this, because they publicly said this. If they want everyone to start this transition at the end of this year, that would tell me that the PS5 Slim is probably coming mid-to-late next year, if not earlier.

It’s not even like the 12 to 10nm size of a leap, [the 6nm jump] should be enough that they can make [the PS5] slightly smaller if they wanted to, make it use 10 to 20% less energy. When you make a console for launch you want to make sure it looks cool and you want to make sure that it works; after that, you can start cost-cutting. ”The cooling: it works? Lock it in, don’t make it smaller! We need to launch by the end of this year, we will worry about making it cheaper later.” I just assume that by combining what they are learning now, redesigning some internals before the 6nm, combined with the 6nm itself: they could probably make it a slim unit on 6nm. Why would they not? So, I would expect it before the Pro, to answer one of your direct questions.

Later down the line, the expected performance leap for a PS5 Pro is double?


Okay, let me clarify that. It is not like someone told me that it is going to be double. No one wants to tell me anything [technical] about the PS5 Pro if they know it. My understanding is that Sony rules with an iron fist with their partners and they can be — this will surprise nobody — arrogant sometimes. I’ve heard they have very good engineers who are funny people, but they want what they want. If you make them mad, they will make sure you know they are mad. So no one wants to say anything, because it’s not like the specs in some one-off laptop got leaked. HP is probably not going to try and kill them… but Sony might. [Sony] will make them do an investigation. Sony values secrecy more than Microsoft, or at the very least they act like they care more.

So, I don’t know specifically that it will be double the performance.... but, [just] look at the PS4 Pro. It had double the compute units of the PS4, it had higher clock speeds, it had higher IPC — it was Polaris architecture instead of GCN 1.0 — and it increased bandwidth and could use it better. It doubled the ROPs from 32 to 64. So, they about doubled performance. Back then, AMD's generations were getting 50% better year on year, at most. Polaris — the architecture that the PS4 is based on — was not even stronger than the previous-gen flagship, it was just meant to be cheaper to produce architecture. So, right now, AMD has doubled performance with RDNA 1 to RDNA 2, and I expect RDNA 3 to double performance again, roughly. We will see what that means, though, if it means plus 80%, plus 120%... but that is what I expect. I don’t know much about RDNA 4, but why would it not be another big boost!

AMD is firing on all cylinders, [go and] look at their stock price now compared to 2014! I think it got close to two dollars and now it is over $100 per share. AMD is a much more formidable company now. So, my answer to your question is: if [AMD/Sony] could double performance back then at the same price, why the heck couldn’t they now? I just expect them to charge more because things are getting more expensive to produce.

Would the leap in tech just affect visuals and performance like PS4 Pro? Is that the moment you think game designers could leverage next-gen and forget about the past console architecture?

Tom: Let’s say [Sony] make a $1,000 dollar console — they are already profiting on a $500 console, they can afford to make this [Pro] way stronger if they sold this at cost for $1,000, but I don’t think they will. [...] It just depends on the price point. If they try to make something $500 again, as they did with the PS4 Pro, I think you are looking at something 50% to 100% stronger. They aim for a $700 price point, though? I mean, I could see them really making something crazy powerful. It all comes down to higher resolutions and frame rates, I think.

I expect [Sony] to at least double GPU performance, or even higher if they charged $700 and waited till late 2023. However, I wouldn't be sure they will go that higher. [I would expect them to] add more RAM, effectively increase bandwidth by at least 100% (this could just be an addition of an infinity cache), increase CPU performance by 20% plus.

However, we can't rule out a more modest upgrade if that's the direction they want to go. I know this sounds like I am saying a million things at once, but you have to understand that it's early and that Sony could be considering radically different designs. If Sony wanted to keep costs low and simply do a modest upgrade for a $499 MSRP, then I actually would only expect it to be 50-80% better, and possibly not even increase RAM. But if they went for a $599 price point, I think they could launch something quite powerful. In fact, a $599 PS5 Pro would look really good next to a $299 PS5 Slim Digital in 2023!

This would be enough for easy 4K120 with current graphics, and 8K60 in many games if Sony wants to market that for their new TVs. Again, though, games get more complex, games get harder to run. It is a moving target. In terms of new types of games? It is going to be higher frame rates and resolutions [exclusively], I think. If I was Sony I would focus on 120hz because I think [gamers] will notice that more than 8K.

Kes: Yeah, no one is going to be rocking an 8K display even in the next few years.

Tom: Maybe [Sony] could use [the PS5 Pro] to market 8K TVs? I don’t know. But, I don’t think there is a new type of game that they will be able to do. Unless… the next big bottleneck in the system is definitely RAM. So, maybe if they put 64GB of RAM in it, they could? But, I don’t think that is happening. So, I think it is going to be higher frame rates, higher resolutions… the PS5 Base is not going to hold anything back.

A huge thanks to Tom again for speaking to us! Please note several corrections and updates were issued by Tom after the original interview. Part 2 should be up next weekend with details about how video games will be changing with the tech. See you then!
Kes Eylers-Stephenson
Written by Kes Eylers-Stephenson
Hey, I'm Kes! I'm a Staff Writer, and I've been here since 2021. What do I like? The Outer Wilds is top notch. The Witcher 3 blew my mind over the course of five years completing it. I want Burnout back — I really miss crunching mechanical wonders into walls to the sound of Guns N' Roses. Cool, now we are acquainted, I'll see you around.