We finally have the full next-gen picture.
Mark Cerny PS5

As Sony's Mark Cerny wraps up his promised PlayStation 5 deep dive, the specs and other details for the PlayStation 5 have been released. So far, we know that the PlayStation 5 will be backwards compatible with most PlayStation 4 titles. Cerny seems to have stopped short of saying it will be backwards compatible with other generations, which is unfortunate.

We also learned today that Sony is putting a lot of effort into their SSD tech that is being used in the PlayStation 5. The good news here is that Sony will allow you to expand that storage with off the shelf SSDs! The bad news is that Sony will need to certify that they work. The even worse news here is that according to Digital Foundry's John Linneman, there are "no drives available today that are fast enough for PS5." This also means that you should not run out and grab a new SSD now and expect it to work on the PS5.

Cerny has also already touched upon something you may notice. The GPU will be able to clock up to 2.23GHz at max speed across its 36 compute units (CU). Compare this with the Xbox Series X, which utilizes 52 compute units but clocked only at 1.825GHz. There are a lot of factors here to consider, so don't just take it to mean that "one number bigger means it's better" in these cases. It's just something to note about the different approaches Sony and Microsoft are taking to their next-generation consoles.

Just as with the Xbox Series X reveal, let's take a look at the full specs for the PlayStation 5:

Xbox Series X PlayStation 5
CPU 8x Cores @ 3.8 GHz (3.6 GHz w/ SMT) Custom Zen 2 CPU 8x Cores @ 3.5 GHz (variable frequency) Custom Zen 2 CPU
GPU 12 TFLOPS, 52 CUs @ 1.825 GHz Custom RDNA 2 GPU 10.28 TFLOPS, 36 CUs @ 2.23 GHz (variable frequency)
Die Size 360.45 mm2 ~
Process 7nm Enhanced ~
Memory 16 GB GDDR6 w/ 320b bus 16 GB GDDR6 (256-bit)
Memory Bandwidth 10GB @ 560 GB/s, 6GB @ 336 GB/s 448 GB/s
Internal Storage 1 TB Custom NVME SSD 825 GB Custom SSD
I/O Throughput 2.4 GB/s (Raw), 4.8 GB/s (Compressed, with custom hardware decompression block) 5.5 GB/s (Raw), Typical 8-9 GB/s (Compressed)
Expandable Storage 1 TB Expansion Card (matches internal storage exactly) NVMe SSD Slot
External Storage USB 3.2 External HDD Support USB HDD Support
Optical Drive 4K UHD Blu-Ray Drive 4K UHD Blu-Ray Drive
Performance Target
4K @ 60 FPS, Up to 120 FPS ~

Again, a direct 1 to 1 comparison of the above specs don't necessarily paint the entire picture. For instance, both machines have support for hardware based real-time ray tracing despite the different specs between their GPUs. It's also interesting to see that one company is taking the approach of a higher GPU clock than the other. How that will translate to actual gaming performance remains to be seen. We really won't know about how these small differences play out until the systems are launched and multi-platform titles are released.

Sony does seem very keen on talking up their 3D audio efforts though. They're using something called the Tempest Engine and, well, I'm just going to let Digital Foundry by way of Eurogamer explain it to you.

In games today, rain is a simple, single sound. With the Tempest Engine, PlayStation 5 aims to engender the feeling of actually being in the middle of the shower by simulating the sound of individual raindrops hitting the ground around you. Locality? This is more about being able to precisely track where objects are located - and the science in delivering this is simply astonishing, having to taken into account the shape of your ears and even the size and shape of your head.

To precisely simulate accurate positioning, Sony needs to generate a table called the Head-related Transfer Function - HRTF - ideally on a per-person basis. How you perceive audio can be simulated by processing the soundscape through that table - a computationally expensive task to say the least. The Tempest Engine is effectively a re-engineered AMD GPU compute unit, stripped of its caches and relying solely on DMA transfers - just like a PS3 SPU. In turn, this opens the door to full utilisation of the CU's vector units.(...)

In short, the Tempest Engine opens the door to a genuine revolution in game audio - and while there are challenges ahead in seeing the system reach is fullest potential, one thing you don't need to worry about is buying into high-end audio hardware to enjoy the experience. In the short term, the simple solution will be to use headphones: two ears, two speakers - it's all you need and the Tempest Engine will handle the rest. Going forward, Sony is optimistic about great results from virtual surround from TV speakers and sound bars, with multi-speaker systems also due for support.
In more simple terms, it sounds as though this new approach to audio will be a multi-layered attack. First, they are going to have far more processing power utilized for audio than the PS4 had. Cerny notes that in the PlayStation 4, audio was limited to a fraction of a single CPU core in order to deliver 7.1 surround sound. This actually comes out to be worse than the audio power granted during the PS3 era.

Unlike Microsoft, Sony still hasn't showed off the actual design of the PlayStation 5, nor have they shown off any games running on the actual hardware yet.