A combination of new and old leaks have potentially revealed the hardware that will be found in the next generation PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, revealing a potentially huge power lead for Microsoft’s towering new console.
As Microsoft and Sony both build up to the release of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X at the end of 2020, they’ve been pretty coy when talking about what exactly is within their respective gaming boxes. We’ve heard about the SSDs, heard about the ray tracing, heard about the next-gen Zen 2 and Navi architectures, even seen the outer design of the Xbox Series X, but both have kept a lid on the internal specs.
With fresh information, Digital Foundry have put all of the pieces together, going back to re-confirmed hardware leaks from all the way back in April for the PlayStation 5 and drawing on new, but somewhat less reliable details about the Xbox Series X. The source of the new leak is a GitHub repository created by someone at AMD’s ASIC validation department, including not just data on the games consoles, but also future AMD desktop and mobile APUs. While somewhat dated, there’s not much room to manoeuvre with chipset design outside of tweaking clock speeds. So, combined with a healthy bit of speculation on Digital Foundry’s part, it points to Microsoft’s absolute unit being almost 1.3x the power of Sony’s console.
The PlayStation 5, as we already know, combines a Zen 2 CPU with a Navi GPU core. The leak confirms that we should expect the CPU to be an 8 core design running at 3.2Ghz, while the Navi GPU is now expected to feature 36 compute units (clusters of tiny processors) running at 2Ghz, a step up from the previously rumoured 1.8Ghz. That points to a 9.2 teraflop GPU for the PS5, more than twice the 4.2 teraflops of the PS4 Pro before accounting for the efficiency improvements of the new GPU architecture.
One interesting facet is that there’s hardware backward compatibility to the Playstation 4. When playing games originally designed for PlayStation 4 Pro or PlayStation 4, the chipset steps down to lower clock speeds and reduces the number of compute units to match the older hardware designs.
The Xbox Series X leak, meanwhile, shows a dramatically more powerful hardware design extending their processing power lead from the Xbox One X. Again with an 8 core Zen 2 CPU, the leak suggests a GPU with a huge 56 compute units, which DF expect to be clocked around 1.7Ghz to meet the 12 teraflops of processing power that Microsoft have been hinting at. However, this is much sketchier information, and there’s oddities surrounding the potential amount of RAM to be included, with the Project Scarlett reveal video seeming to show both 1GB and 2GB chips of GDDR6 RAM in use.
Here’s the two stacked up against each other:
|Xbox Series X||Playstation 5|
|CPU||8-core AMD Zen 2||8-core AMD Zen 2 at 3.2Ghz|
|GPU||AMD RDNA with 56 CUs at 1.7Ghz||AMD RDNA with 36 CUs at 2Ghz|
|RAM||GDDR6 at 560GB/s||GDDR6 at 448GB/s|
The real takeaway here is just how much more powerful the Xbox Series X appears to be, leaning heavily on high-end cutting edge GPU designs and justifying the large size of the console design to keep it cool. By contrast, the PlayStation 5 feels like a more straight forward evolution of the PlayStation 4, logically updating each component and dipping into AMD’s future toolkit for its ray-tracing.
The benefit for Sony might come at the tills, as the PlayStation 5 could be significantly cheaper than the Xbox Series X, and closer to the magic $399 launch price point that the PS4 and PS4 Pro had while still targeting the same native 4K at a loss of some visual fidelity. Then again, Microsoft reportedly have a second hardware design planned, codenamed Lockhart, that is intended to be less powerful and more competitive on price.
Take all of this with a pinch of salt, but the next generation could be much feistier than we all expected.