Sony's PlayStation 5: Price, Release Date, Specs And Rumours

playstation 5 news announcements leaks

The next generation of consoles launches at the end of the year, but there are plenty of key questions to be answered before release. While exact details of Sony’s PlayStation 5 are yet to be confirmed outside of a snazzy logo, there is still a tonne of information out there. Here's what we know so far.

PlayStation 5: Release Date

playstation 5 release date

The PlayStation 4 launched in Australia in November 29, 2013, mirroring the console's worldwide release. It was a return to a familiar pattern for Sony - the PlayStation 3 was meant to launch concurrently worldwide, but a shortage of components for Blu-Ray drives meant the console didn't arrive in Australia until March 23, 2007.

Barring the PS3, the holidays are when Sony puts new hardware into the wild. The PlayStation released in November 15, 1995, having originally launched for the 1994 holidays in Japan. The PS2 launched on November 30, 2000, and slim versions of the PS2, PS3 and PS4 have launched in the September/October/November busy period.

So there's a long-standing pattern of releasing hardware just in time for Christmas. But extra confirmation came from AMD, the makers of the semi-custom chip that will be in the PS5, Xbox's next console, and the current console generation.

In a quarterly earnings call, AMD confirmed that revenues in their semi-custom business - the part of AMD that makes bespoke chip designs, and the unit whose earnings are mostly driven by console sales - would be down for the FY2019-2020 financial year.

"As we go into 2020, without talking about any specific customer, we believe that semi-custom will return to a growth business for us in 2020 and beyond," AMD CEO Dr Lisa Su said.

Lead Sony engineer Mark Cerny also confirmed that the PS5 wouldn't release in 2019, but it's also unlikely that we'll see it in early 2020. The console uses the 7nm manufacturing process that AMD's new Ryzen and Navi CPUs/GPUs are built with. But the amount of units that have to be made for a simultaneous worldwide console release is well beyond the amount of new desktop CPUs and GPUs that go into the wild.

And while manufacturing silicon gets more efficient over time, the sampling and testing process that follows can take several months, especially at the quantities that a Sony or Microsoft would require.

While the price is currently unconfirmed, it's likely to launch around the $US499 ($730) mark according to the latest rumours, and console pricing trends of the past.

Console Load Times

Sony, Microsoft and other executives have already spoken about some of the things that annoy gamers. One of the easiest wins is with loading times, especially since the current generation of consoles are still built using older SATA-based hard drives, instead of the lightning quick NVMe drives in newer laptops, or the still-quite-fast SSDs that have become commonplace in most gaming rigs.

The PlayStation 5 will ship with an SSD, which translated into a sub-second loading time in Insomniac's Spider-Man, as demonstrated by Sony recently. (You can see the demo shown to select Japanese press above.)

The exact SSD that will ship in the PS5 will be custom-made, supporting more raw bandwidth than what you'd supposedly get in today's gaming rigs.

Cerny wouldn't confirm to Wired whether the PS5 was supporting the higher-bandwidth PCIe 4.0 standard, which just became commercially available this week with the new AMD Ryzen platform, but he did mention that the "details of the I/O mechanisms and the software stack that we put on top of them" were just as crucial to the console's performance as the console's raw read/write speeds.

PlayStation 5: Ray Tracing

playstation 5 ray tracingAMD CEO Dr Lisa Su holding up a piece of 7nm silicon from the Navi GPU generation. Image: Alex Walker (Kotaku)

While the Radeon 5700 and 5700 XT cards that just launched don't have any on-board support for AI or real-time ray tracing, it'll definitely be a feature of the PS5. AMD was very tight lipped about ray tracing before E3 - understandable, given that it wasn't supported in the products that launched - but Lisa Su did say they had made specific optimisations for the PS5.

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"We certainly have done very specific optimisations for Sony," Dr Lisa Su said in a roundtable interview at Computex, as transcribed by Anandtech. "What you should expect though is ray tracing is important technology, and you will see it across our portfolio. Particularly working with the ecosystem will ensure that there will be strong ecosystem support."

But another key element of ray tracing is audio. "With the next console the dream is to show how dramatically different the audio experience can be when we apply significant amounts of hardware horsepower to it," Cerny said in the PS5's Wired reveal.

"If you wanted to run tests to see if the player can hear certain audio sources or if the enemies can hear the players’ footsteps, ray tracing is useful for that... It's all the same thing as taking a ray through the environment.”

As Cerny noted, using ray tracing for audio has been done before. The best visual example of this is in a demonstration of Battlefield 4's audio obstruction system, which indicates whether there's an object between the player and the source of sound.

PlayStation 5 Backwards Compatibility

spider-man playstation 5 backwards compatibility

The biggest problem with playing PS3 games was the console's custom-built processor - the 8-core Cell CPU, which cost around $400 million to develop.

So when Sony threw that out the window and went with an AMD semi-custom design for the PS4, older games had to be rewritten, or emulated, to work on the new console. The next-gen PlayStation uses the same architecture as the PS4, so if you want to see what your PS4 games looks like at 8K or with a more stable frame rate, you'll be able to.

You'll undoubtedly get the other hardware benefits, like the faster loading times mentioned above, but precisely how far the new console can push older games is unknown. Traditionally, Sony lets developers decide how best to use new hardware.

The PS4 Pro eventually received a Boost Mode letting the console run games a little bit faster, a half-step for instances where developers hadn't released a patch utilising the beefier hardware. It's logical to expect a similar approach with the next-gen PlayStation, as not all developers are seeded with devkits at the same time, and the nature of development means many won't have a next-gen patch ready by the time new consoles launch.

It's worth noting that the next-gen PlayStation will also play physical media, a requirement if you're to play older PS4 games with the console. That'll undoubtedly make a lot of local gamers happy - retail stores are generally still cheaper than the digital pricing at launch for new games, although deals on places like PSN have become much better these days.

Speaking of backward compatibility support...

PlayStation 5 will have PSVR Support

psvr playstation 5 supportImage: Gizmodo

For those who invested in PSVR, hold onto it. Mark Cerny confirmed PSVR would be "compatible with the new console", but was very strict about saying anything further. "I won't go into the details of our VR strategy today," Cerny said.

A second generation PSVR, however, is definitely coming. The company's global head of research and development, Dominic Mallinson, told CNET this year that PSVR has to evolve. "It's not quite there yet as a mass market proposition... we do want it to be lighter weight, and easier to put on, less cables, less mess," Mallinson said.

Whether Sony opts for a wireless VR future, which most consumers would want, is another thing. Removing wires ramps up the cost of materials significantly, and a huge element of PSVR's appeal was that it made VR more affordable. But Sony has taken out a patent for a wireless VR headset, which shows the headset communicating with the PS4 via a breakout box (similar to what the PSVR has now).

Sony's also filed patents recently for other VR peripherals, including new controllers with analogue sticks and a control system that's "capable of presenting the sense of force for the movement of each finger of the left and right hands of a user".

PlayStation 5 Supports 8K

samsung 8k tvs ps5 fpsImage: Samsung

There's not much detail on this one, other than the initial confirmation that the next-gen console will support 8K graphics. It's supremely unlikely that you'll get 8K/60fps out of the gate, much in the same way 4K consoles now generally target 30fps instead of 60fps.

But what is more likely, since nobody owns an 8K TV yet and plenty of people only just upgraded to 4K HDR TVs, is support for higher frame rates at 4K. The latest HDMI standard, 2.1, allows for up to 120Hz refresh rates and, consequently, justification for consoles to support frame rates beyond 60fps. The new standard also supports the following:

  • Dynamic HDR, which is capable of changing HDR settings on a frame-by-frame basis.
  • Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC), which enables the use of object-based surround sound formats, such as Dolby Atmos.
  • Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Quick Frame Transport (QFT) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), which are helpful for video games since they reduce input lag, latency, and refresh rate for smoother, more accurate gameplay.
  • Quick Media Switching (QMS), which removes the delay when switching between resolutions and frame rates.

Variable refresh rate will be a massive boost for games with unstable frame rates or inconsistent frame timings. But just as interesting is dynamic HDR. An upgrade to the existing HDR support in TVs and certain monitors, dynamic HDR adds additional metadata that allows for frame-by-frame or scene-by-scene adjustments, meaning that each individual scene or shot can be optimised for the content in it.

8k refresh rate playstation 5Image:

The kicker is you'll need a new HDMI cable for all the good stuff. Older HDMI cables won't support the additional bandwidth in the new standard, so get ready for another couple years of knock-off HDMI cables filling up the aisles of JB Hi-Fi and co.

PlayStation 5 Controller May Feature In-Built Mic

Patents spotted in the wild indicate that the new PlayStation 5 controller could have an in-built mic. The mic is rumoured to tie into the PlayStation Assist AI voice assistant, another new development which popped up last year.

While the existence of the mic is yet to be confirmed, it would be a great change from having to purchase external technology like the PlayStation Camera, or an all-in-one headset.

PlayStation 5: Cloud Streaming

Sony has dabbled in the cloud gaming space for years, even if its PlayStation Now service stubbornly hasn't made it to our shores. But with the recent strategic partnership between Sony and Microsoft, which allows the former to use the latter's Azure data centres for "game and content-streaming services", Sony's cloud streaming should be more of a possibility.

You can, after all, already use your PS4 or PS4 Pro to stream games to phones and PCs. It's called Remote Play, and while it's best with a PS4 Pro connected via Ethernet, it works pretty damn well. The limitations of the consoles, however, meant you could only stream at 1080p and 60fps with a PS4 Pro, or 720p from a base PS4.

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In a release sent out on the corporate Sony website this year, Sony said streaming was one of the main pillars for the "future direction of PlayStation". "PlayStation streaming: Through the evolution of 'Remote Play' and 'PlayStation Now,' provide a seamless game experience anytime, anywhere."

Precisely what the evolution of Remote Play looks like is anyone's guess, although the direction Microsoft is going with Project xCloud provides a useful guide.

"Imagine that you just began a single-player campaign the day before heading out of town and want to keep playing from where you left off," Microsoft said in a xCloud blog post. "Maybe you just need a few more minutes to wrap up that weekly challenge before you head into work, but your bus just won’t wait."

That's undoubtedly what Sony is thinking as well, especially since they partnered with Microsoft specifically to help fuel their cloud gaming aspirations. Exactly how much processing is done in the cloud, and how much is done on a local device or the local console, is another matter.

Before the next-gen PlayStation launches, expect Sony to talk a lot about playing Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Last of Us Part Two and probably Death Stranding on a train or bus.


    AMD is clearly the big winner next year.

      God I wish i bought AMD shares in 2016 :(

        Oh god, I looked at that rise :(
        I'm wondering if it is still worth it considering their market cap is only around 20% of intel.

          It's tough to see how they could go anywhere but up from here. Unless of course I invest - in which case they will be declared bankrupt within 3 weeks because I am cursed ;)

    It seems like a less significant thing when you throw around catch terms like 8K gaming, Dynamic HDR, 120Hz refresh rates etc... but initially I think the improved load times will be the biggest 'experience changer' for console gamers.

      Who doesn't install SSD? Warranty, schwarranty. Project development times and game prices are not mentioned in article, unsurprisingly.

        That would well beyond the rubicon in terms of rampant speculation. There's nothing to suggest that game prices will change at this stage, but if something firms up that would indicate otherwise, that'd be worthy of a breakout piece.

          I recall talk of game prices going up several generations ago as Devs had to put in 'so much more work' but it seems they have gotten cheaper.

            Not to mention the "putting in way more work" thing seems to be not really the case for the majority of titles.... I swear most games are getting smaller in length etc these day (not all mind you)

              There is a bit of a trend for very focused but shorter games. Nothing wrong with them if they are good.

            easy way to understand how games have gotten days of old games came on a disc complete,there was very little in the way of DLC's etc.nowdays just about all games come half complete,and stacked to the hilt with DLC's at an added expense of course.simple way of looking at the scourge of the gaming industry DLC edit forgot to add loot boxes and such into the mix,pay to win as most games are nowdays,also a lions share of games today are also online,so not as much coding needs to be put onto a disc,if you can still track a pc game disc down.which in turn leads to the next part of electronic content downloads as to physical all these factors make the game cheaper,as you are paying a smaller price initially but paying later as you want more and more content etc.

            Last edited 23/01/20 9:11 am

    Looking forward to the load time improvements, but also crossing my fingers that game devs will start building with options to let us choose between 60+fps or 4K+. I don't foresee replacing my 1080p Bravia until it dies, so 4K/HDR aren't selling points for me.

      I have a 4K TV, but given the option, I'll still choose silky smooth frames. Once you get used to 60fps, 30fps makes even brand new games feel somehow... dated, like they're struggling.

    I hope the "custom" SSD doesn't mean we can't upgrade it anymore? Are external USB SSD's quick enough to be a viable expansion option otherwise?

      If these consoles come with USB4.0, then yes it will be very viable as it has reduced latency and higher bandwidth.

      It will likely be similar to the M.2 SSDs we get on PC motherboards. That's my guess. They are faster than 2.5" SSDs and take up less space. Whether its soldered onboard or replaceable is another question..

      Iirc, they said the SSD was proprietary tech - they were talking speeds faster than current NVMe drives - so I wouldn't expect it to be as easy to upgrade as Playstations past. But USB tech's come a long way, so an external secondary drive might be a viable (if somewhat slower) option.

        I'd be surprise if they are not leveraging the PCIE 4.0 standard that AMD has bought in with the new Ryzen chips, albeit probably on a custom PCB. This was on the drawing board around when Sony would have been working on their architecture.

      The SSD is using an AMD technology that allows the GPU to directly access data on the SSD as though it were RAM. I'm not 100% across the exact details of how it works, but AMD has talked about it as far back as 2017.

      Microsoft also mentioned it in their E3 trailer last year (look for the part where one of the people in the video says something like "we can use the SSD as though it's more RAM" or words to that effect).

      It's definitely not NVMe, and it's highly likely that the SSD will be chips soldered to the motherboard, as this is both cheaper to produce and allows for faster access times than using a separate, removable, SSD unit.

      There's no reason you shouldn't be able to whack on an external drive to the system via USB, though.

    I do wonder if the these next-gen consoles will have 8 or 16 GB of VRAM, maybe its going to be some sort of 24GB of GDDR5x/6 system memory instead of dedicated memory for CPU/GPU.

    I was always a 2 console home (e.g. last 2 generations I bought both Xboxs and PS consoles) but when I looked at my gaming shelf (where I store all my games) I had noticed I had bought way more Ps4 games them Xbox 1 games.... which led me down the path of next gen will just be Ps5 only.

      If you have a relatively good gaming PC, then there's literally no reason you'll need to buy a Series X.

        Yep. PS5 for exclusives and PC for everything else!

          PS5 AND Switch for exclusives.

          PC for everything else!

    I want to hear their backwards compatibility strategy before I even think about getting enthusiastic. I know they plan to do something with letting you play PS4 games on PS5 but what I want to hear is that I won't need to purchase my entire digital library again, even at discount, and it will just be there for me at launch. If they can't do that then I'm going to be thinking verrrry carefully about whether another console in the living room is worth it.

    "Imagine that you just began a single-player campaign the day before heading out of town and want to keep playing from where you left off," Microsoft said in a xCloud blog post. "Maybe you just need a few more minutes to wrap up that weekly challenge before you head into work, but your bus just won’t wait." Which is already achievable with suspend mode and internet streaming. (from your PS4 at home) I know the difference is dedicated hardware centres but it's kind of funny they're positing something already available as future tech.

      I call marketing BS on that second point, both for your reason and just, like, press pause?
      And on backwards compatibility - I hadn’t even considered your points! Now I’m worried!

    The way i understand it is that only the every latest and best tvs support it Dynamic HDR. Plus we should be able to get 4k 60fps through HDMI 2.0 which is a great new standard consoles should aim for.

    Whats really cool is that it seems like both Sony and Microsoft have sort of future proofed the consoles in some ways like this and 8k content. We hope... ha


    Good one, you almost had me.

      It's actually a real thing. With a backlit LCD screen, the liquid crystal part selectively blocks light from the backlight to form the image. So the backlight needs to be at least as bright as the brightest pixel in the image.

      With a "static HDR" system, this maximum brightness is configured once during mode setting, and the backlight will remain at that brightness for all subsequent frames. What "dynamic HDR" does is add some extra metadata to continuously vary the maximum brightness value so the panel can ramp up the brightness before the bright scenes, and reduce it again afterwards.

      The main benefits of this is that a dimmer backlight consumes less electricity/generates less heat, and that the panel can represent more colours if the maximum brightness is configured correctly. Imagine that the panel can block the backlight to one of 1024 evenly spaced increments (i.e. 10 bits per channel): the brighter the backlight, the greater the spacing of those increments.

        I don't doubt its a real thing, I was more having a dig at adding "Dynamic" to an acronym that already uses the word dynamic. TWICE THE DYNAMISM.

        Call it Variable HDR... Vigorous HDR... Interspersal HDR... Ambient HDR... Ultra HDR.

          The industry has a long history of writing themselves into a corner with names. For example, branding 720p TV sets as "high definition", and then needing to come up with names for all the higher resolution standards that came after it, making sure they sound better than "high".

          Similar to terms like "LCD", I suspect you'll get a lot of people who have some idea of what the acronym refers to without knowing what it expands to. In that case, "Dynamic HDR" isn't the worst marketing name around.

        great explanation on how this works in a simple to understand way.thank you and have a great day

    While the price is currently unconfirmed, it's likely to launch around the $US499 ($730) mark according to the latest rumours, and console pricing trends of the past.
    The article you linked in this sentence is from April 2019, I highly doubt it's the "latest rumours". The article itself calls the rumour "dubious".
    Surely you could have found something a little more recent in regards to pricing?

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