Sony denies cutting PlayStation 5 production numbers [Updated]

Update: Sony provided a simple statement on Bloomberg’s report to GamesIndustry.biz.

The statement reads, “While we do not release details related to manufacturing, the information provided by Bloomberg is false.”

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“We have not changed the production number for PlayStation 5 since the start of mass production.”

The original post is below:


Bloomberg are reporting that “people familiar with the matter” have suggested that Sony are facing production problems with the PlayStation 5. The problem appears to be with custom built SoC which has production yields of just 50%, or in other words, half of the chips don’t work. It is reported that Sony have been forced to cut the predicted number of consoles available down by 4 million units, dropping from 15 million to 11 million for the fiscal year.

The news has “spooked” investors who fear a re-run of the problems that the PlayStation 3 faced – in that case Sony couldn’t get enough Blu-ray drives so production was slow and the console release was staggered. However, it’s worth remembering that 11 million is still a big step up from the 7 million PS4s that were sold in its own launch window.

The problems with the chips also leave Sony with another problem, with only half of the chips working, production costs are also higher than anticipated. That’s not good news ahead of the PlayStation 5 Showcase tomorrow where we expect a price, release date and more game announcements.

Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Masahiro Wakasugi suggests that the full fat PlayStation 5 could be priced as low as $449, which would undercut the price of the Xbox Series X by $50, and the discless all digital version would be slightly below $400. Take that with a pinch of salt since this is in the exact same report that production costs are higher, meaning that Sony would be taking a big, big hit per console sold until yields improve.

It’s not all bad news for Sony; the Covid-19 pandemic has lead to a huge surge in PlayStation Plus subscriptions.

The PlayStation 5 Showcase will be taking place on Wednesday September 16th, with the timings being 1pm PDT/9pm BST/10pm CEST. The PlayStation 5 Showcase will last for approximately 40 minutes and will include updates on the games and input from some of the development partners. Many of the developers and artists working on Horizon Zero Dawn Forbidden West have been tweeting about the showcase so expect to see more from that game, and unconfirmed rumours suggest Final Fantasy XVI may also make an appearance.

Here are the hardware specifications for the new console.

CPU 8 Zen 2 Cores @ 3.5Ghz w/ SMT (variable)
GPU 10.28 TFLOPS – 36 CUs @ 2.26Ghz (variable)
Memory 16 GB GDDR6 (448GB/s)
Internal Storage 825 GB Custom NVME SSD
I/O Throughput 5.5 GB/s (Raw), 8-9 GB/s (Compressed)
Expandable Storage Approved M.2 third party SSDs in dedicated expansion bay
External Storage USB External HDD Support for PS4 games
Optical Dirve Ultra HD Blu-ray, up to 100GB/disc
Video Output HDMI 2.1 – Up to 4K at 120Hz, 8K, VRR
Audio Tempest Engine 3D audio

Source: Bloomberg

 

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11 Comments

  1. So the same article says they’re making less PS5s due to problems with the SoC yield, and the PS5 will cost less than the Series X, but you’re randomly believing only one of these things?

    I’d be surprised if the PS5 cost more than the X, and slightly less surprised if it cost the same. After what happened with the PS3 launch, and what happened to MS with the XBone, they’d be stupid to not try and beat MS on price. Especially after the long waiting game MS just lost last week.

    I’m still guessing at £349 and £399 for the 2 models. Maybe £449 for the full fat version, giving the digital version an even bigger price advantage.

    • It’s not random. We’re believing the Bloomberg report on production being reduced and costs increasing because of low yields, and then saying that an analyst claiming that the PS5 “may be priced as low as” $449 is a pretty vague and woolly claim that runs counter to the firm statements elsewhere in the story.

  2. I’ve heard previously that both Sony and Microsoft had achieved higher chip yields than they had initially expected with PS5 and XB1X , so this is surprising news so late in the day. Not good if true.

  3. There was a report on Gamesradar that said:

    “Delta Air Cargo head Jerry Tai, Ahmad claims that October will see 60 flights (or 60 aircraft, as the booking details are unclear) carrying PS5 systems.”

    That’s a heck of a lot of consoles just for North America, plus even more are being sent by sea freight so production must be going well.

    • Quick bit of maths time, with random Googling of things because I know nothing about aircraft, really.

      If one flight can carry 130 tonnes of PS5s (and that seems to be a big plane), and a PS5 weighs 5kg, that’s 26,000 PS5s per flight. Or about 1.5m for 60 flights. If that’s just for one month, that makes 36m PS5s in the first year. And if that’s just for the US, then I guess they’ll have enough, before you even start counting how many are being shipped in other ways.

  4. I’m surprised they’re having issues with Zen 2 as it’s not a brand new architecture? Or could it be the custom stuff they’ve added is causing difficulties?

    • There’s no indication which part of the chip is causing low yields, but if I had to guess, it would be a GPU and its high boost clock – this is far higher than the XSX GPU and even the top end 5700 XT on AMD’s current GPU architecture. There’s less room for error with a large APU like in XSX and PS5, and if a chip can’t hit the target clocks, it’s worthless. There’s no chance to reuse those chips for lower-end products as in AMD’s own business.

      • MS might have more room for error if rejected XSX (have we settled on calling it that now?) can be recycled into the XSS. Sony can’t do that if the 2 PS5s are exactly the same apart from 1 missing part.

      • I doubt that. It would be very extreme to block off over half of the chip and not really suitable in the long run as yields improve. The XSX has much more conservative clock speeds, so should be a safer bet for yields anyway.

        My guess all depends on AMD’s RDNA 2 architecture and what the design is able to push to. If 2Ghz makes it to their mid-range cards then a 2.25Ghz boost clock might not be that unreasonable. If 2Ghz is reserved only for their highest end, most expensive, binned special edition cards, then Sony are really pushing it.

  5. Well that validates my decision to wait for the PS5 slim/pro/gta6 (whichever happens first), by which time they’ll hopefully have got a grip on these and any other production issues.

  6. Bloomberg reported in April that Sony “Told assembly partners it would make 5 to 6 million units of the PS5 in the fiscal year ending March 2021”

    In July they were the ones to report that production was doubling to 10 million

    And now in September they are saying it’s down 4 million to 11 million

    There’s some inconsistencies there, for one, for it to be true, there was a further boost to 15 million units between July and September, and they dropped it back down again. Either way, after today’s figures it’s still double what they initially reported in April…

    I am no expert in technology supply chains but I am not sure it is possible to change by so much so quickly. Particularly with the APU, you have to buy fab slots at TSMC quite a long way in advance because they are pretty much sold out there, but also for some the other components like RAM

    And I think they would have known about yields well before now

    So I think at least some of these reports are not true

    Possible technical reasons I can think of for low yields (but I was still surprised when I first read this as the TSMC 7nm process is fairly mature and has very good yields):

    Ultra High Frequency GPU (more demanding on the silicon being high quality)
    RDNA2 itself (still an unknown – these gpu’s have no release date yet)
    Sony’s customisations (adds unknowns)

    I can’t imagine it would have anything to do with the CPU as that is pretty much off the shelf as I understand and Zen2 should give no surprises – they’ve been making PC APU’s with these cores in for a while now

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