Sony knows a few things about making video game consoles. Their latest on the market, the PlayStation 4 is a pretty powerful machine, but is also getting old. It was released in 2013, that’s 6 years ago! Lord the time flies fast when having fun. Much has happened on the hardware front since then, and the company has now confirmed the new PlayStation 5 release date to just in time for Christmas next year. My guess is November.
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The PlayStation history
The previous versions with some hardware facts:
PlayStation (also known as PS1 or PSX)
- Released in 1994/1995 (Japan/rest of the world)
- 32-bit RISC MIPS R3000A processor
- 2 MB main memory, 1 MB video memory
- MDEC (motion decoder) for FMV playback
- GPU and Geometry Transformation Engine with 2D rotation, scaling, transparency and fading, and 3D affine texture mapping and shading
- 16,7 million colors
- 4000 sprites
- 180.000 textured polygons per second, 360.000 flat-shaded polygons
- 256×224 to 640×480 pixels resolution (480i)
- 16-bit, 24-channel audi
- CD-ROM based
- New editions released in 2000 (PS One) and in 2018 (PlayStation Classic)
- The original version sold over 102 million (!) units
PlayStation 2 (also known as PS2)
- Released in 2000
- Standard memory card of 8 MB, larger ones were available
- 2 USB ports (FireWire on some models)
- Hard disk drive could be attached on some models
- Emotion Engine CPU, MIPS-based with a floating-point performance of 6.2 Gigaflops
- Custom designed Graphics Synthesizer GPU
- 3-16 million polygons per second, accounting for features like lighting, texture mapping, artificial intelligence and game physics.
- 2.4 gigapixels/second fillrate
- Native output on SDTV and HDTV from 480i to 480p.
- Digital (S/PDIF) audio via TOSLINK (2.0 PCM and 5.1 channel Dolby Digital DTS)
- CD and DVD-ROM based
- Best selling console of all time, over 155 million units (!)
The PlayStation 2 was quite a step up on the hardware front, compared to the PlayStation 1.
PlayStation 3 (also known as PS3)
- Released in 2006/2007 (Japan,US/Europe,Australia)
- 20-500 GB 2.5″ SATA harddrive, user replaceable/upgradeable
- Cell microprocessor (3.2 GHz PowerPC-based)
- 256 MB memory
- Graphics by Nvidia RSX Reality Synthesizer (256MB GDDR3 video memory)
- Resolutions from 480i up to 1080p HD
- Bluetooth 2.0, supporting up to seven devices
- Gigabit ethernet
- USB 2.0
- HDMI 1.4
- WiFi (most models)
- Blu-Ray based
- Sold over 83 million units
The PS3 hardware has also been used for building supercomputers. In 2010 the Air Force Reasearch Laboratory joined 1760 units together to produce 500 Teraflops (!) of computing power.
- Released in 2013/2014 (US,Europe/Japan)
- Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) developed by AMD in cooperation with Sony. Combines the CPU, GPU and other components.
- CPU consisting of two quad-core Jaguar modules, totaling 8 x86-64 cores. 7 of them can be utilized by game developers. Peak performance of up to 1.84 Teraflops
- 25.6 Gigapixel fillrate
- 57.6 Gigatexel texture fillrate
- 8 GB GDDR5 memory (16 times that of the PS3)
- Blu-Ray based
- Can output movies in 4K, but not games (max full-hd 1080p)
- 500 GB harddrive, upgradeable by users
- External USB hard drives of up to 8 TB possible
- 2 USB 3.0 ports
- Optical S/PDIF audio
- Can download content and updates while in “rest mode”, a low power state
- Sold (and still selling) around 100 million units (!)
If you have read through the models so far, you see a significant increase in computing power for each model released. That brings us to the next section – what will number 5 bring to us gamers?
The confirmed specifications
According to Sonys own PlayStation blog, they confirm several goodies coming in their new machine.
- SSD hard drive (previous consoles have used traditional mechanical hard drives). SSD will significantly cut back on loading times
- Games will be published on 100GB discs
- Adaptive triggers (L2/R2 buttons on the controllers) – A new functionality with haptic feedback, where the game developers can program the level of haptic feedback for you to feel the difference between crashing into a wall or drawing a bow
- Hardware graphics acceleration with ray tracing
- Likely to run on an AMD based 3rd generation Ryzen processor with 8 cores, Zen 2 architecture
- Backwards compatible with PlayStation 4
- Up to 8K resolution (Maybe not games in 8K, but capable of outputting that resolution)
Unconfirmed rumors state that it can emulate earlier consoles, like PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2 and the initial PlayStation. Shouldn’t really be a problem, considering the processing power the new console will have. VR is another thing that might get beefed up. The PlayStation 4 VR stretches it somewhat beyond what the console is capable of, perhaps this will be improved in the new Sony PlayStation 5.
PlayStation 5 prices
Fierce competition between Sony and Microsofts Xbox system kind of dictates the pricing level. If one of the competitors prices their console way higher than the other, it will surely make a great dent in the sales curve. The hardware itself says this console should be priced at about 500 us dollars. But if Microsoft launches their new console for 400 us dollars, Sony would follow suit.
Releasing the console for 400 us dollars could likely be selling with loss, and neither of the competitors would be very much interested in that, if their main goal is making money on selling consoles. (And not relying on other income related to selling the consoles). It all depends on the margins they want, and the cost of manufacturing the consoles.
You may say that 500 dollars is a bit steep for a console, but if you examine what is inside it, and then compare it to what it costs to purchase a gaming PC for example, things might just look a bit different. The Nvidia graphics card alone for the PC will easily set you back 400 bucks alone, if you are looking for the ray tracing features.
Looking at the previous launches can also give some hints. Launching the PS3 at 600 dollars flopped, and Microsoft had to drop its Kinect to get the price down to 400 before it started selling.
And speaking of selling…
Top 10 best-selling consoles of all time
- PlayStation 2 (2000) – 155 million units
- Nintendo DS (2004) – 154.02 million units
- Game Boy/Game Boy Color (1989/1998) – 118.69 million units
- PlayStation 1 (1994) – 102.49 million units
- Nintendo Wii (2006) – 101.63 million units
- PlayStation 4 (2013) – 91.6 million units
- Xbox 360 (2005) – 84 million units
- PlayStation 3 (2006) – 83.8 million units
- PlayStation Portable (2004) – 82 million units
- Game Boy Advance (2001) – 81.51 million units
That is truly a LOT of consoles. Did you know that if you put all of them next to each other around the globe, many of them would get wet?
With the specs confirmed and rumored for the new console, it is hard not wanting to buy PlayStation 5. Currently I have PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3, the latter being used almost daily. Haven’t picked up number 4 yet, but it should drop significantly in price used, when the new one is available.
Which ones do you own, or have owned? Comment below.