Is the Microsoft Scarlett project worth a fuss

 

After Microsoft, Sony has now announced the more or less complete hardware specifications of its NextGen console "Playstation 5" as part of a video stream event. Actually, this presentation should take place at the (now canceled) GDC - in this respect it was probably planned long in advance and is therefore not a reaction to the recent Microsoft disclosure of the Xbox Series X. Compared to this, the Playstation 5 is currently having a hard time in the eyes of the public because you get below the hardware data of the Microsoft console with the Playstation 5: The CPU is still roughly equal, but the GPU is with only 36 shader clusters and up to 10.3 TFlops of computing power on a 256 bit GDDR6 -Interface is apparently smaller than the Microsoft counterpart with 52 shader clusters and 12.1 TFlops of computing power on a 320-bit GDDR6 interface.

Sony Playstation 5Microsoft Xbox Series X
processor8C / 16T Zen 2 @ ≤3.5 GHz8C / 16T Zen 2 @ 3.6 GHz (without SMT @ 3.8 GHz)
Graphics solution36 CU RDNA2 @ ≤2.23 GHz (≤10.3 TFlops)52 CU RDNA2 @ 1,825 GHz (12.1 TFlops)
Memory interface256 bit GDDR6 @ 3500 MHz QDR (448 GB / sec)320 bit GDDR6 @ 3500 MHz QDR (Ø 476 GB / sec)
Storage16 GB GDDR616 GB GDDR6 (13.5 GB for games)
hard disk825 GB NVMe SSD @ 5.5 GB / sec (8-9 GB / sec with compression)1 TB NVMe SSD @ 2.4 GB / sec (4.8 GB / sec with compression)
Price range??????
Release"Holiday Season" 2020"Holiday Season" 2020

Sony, on the other hand, has advantages when it comes to connecting its NVMe SSD with 5.5 GB / sec, which is more than double that of Microsoft (XBSX: 2.4 GB / sec). The fact that the Sony mass storage device is a bit smaller with 825 GB should be less significant - especially since Sony offers an additional M.2 slot and commercially available SSDs can also be installed there. At Microsoft, on the other hand, the expansion cards that can be purchased separately run under a proprietary connection and are therefore under Microsoft's price control (the 1TB version is said to cost over $ 100). The "uniform" memory interface can also be rated as a certain Sony advantage, where each of the memory chips is connected with the same interface width and thus the same memory bandwidth of 448 GB / sec - not like Microsoft, where only 10 GB of memory with 560 GB / sec are connected, the remaining 6 GB of storage then only with 336 GB / sec.

These differences are certainly far less powerful than the difference in graphics computing power: Sony competes with up to 10.3 TFlops compared to Microsoft with 12.1 TFlops. Sony also uses a boost process (for the first time in game consoles), so ultimately cannot guarantee the (high) nominal GPU clock rate of ≤2.23 GHz. Of course, Sony has been making better use of the limit areas with this boost method, which has been common in the PC sector for years, while Microsoft, with its rigid clock rate, actually ignores possible performance. But in practice, the 12.1 TFlops are guaranteed at Microsoft, while the 10.3 TFlops at Sony are only reached at the top. In real terms, it might be (on average) around 9.5-10 TFlops, which then increases the real difference to the computing power of the Xbox Series X to around a quarter (or the PS5 has about a fifth less computing power compared to the XBSX).

However, at this point you can take a step back and introduce the fundamental consideration of how much this difference is really worth, especially in the console area. Looking back on the last generation of consoles, the Xbox One at the time came with only 1.31 TFlops of computing power, the Playstation 4 at that time with 1.84 TFlops. The difference at that time was therefore equal to + 40% (or -29%), therefore clearly higher than this year with + 24% (or -19%) are. In addition, the PS4 had an extremely clear advantage in the memory bandwidth of 68 GB / sec to 176 GB / sec (without the XBO's eDRAM), so offered a really better graphics solution. In practice, the console programmers have largely blurred this with their game titles, there were only marginal disadvantages with XBO games - mostly in the form of slightly lower (internal) render resolutions.

This year with a significantly smaller disadvantage in computing power, in fact hardly any real difference in memory bandwidth and the advantage of the clearly faster SSD, the technical disadvantage of the PS5 should result in even fewer practical consequences. If even the clear hardware advantage of Sony in the last console generation did not lead to fundamentally different games, then this will by no means happen in the same way with the at best mediocre hardware advantage of Microsoft in the next console generation. In practice, the console programmers should simply focus on the (each) lowest common denominator - and that is ultimately big enough to be able to provide really better games or game worlds. With roughly 10 TFlops of computing power you will be able to tear something - this is nominally 7x as much as (with the smallest model) of the last generation of consoles and computing efficiency-normalized more than 10x as much. In this respect, there is far more excitement at this point about the "lagging" hardware of the PS5 than would actually be appropriate in view of the real difference.

The (nominal) disadvantage of Sony in terms of hardware can ultimately be an advantage on the price side: After all, the Playstation 5 only comes with 69% of the number of shader clusters of the Xbox Series X (plus a slightly smaller one Memory interface), should therefore (in view of the almost identical CPU) consume noticeably less chip area or have lower SoC costs. Based on the well-known 360mm² chip area of ​​the XBSX SoC, the PS5 SoC can be estimated at a chip area of ​​roughly 300mm² or a little less - which does not result in a large gap, but it does make a difference in view of the still expensive 7nm production. It is therefore quite conceivable that Sony will ultimately be able to give its Playstation 5 the more attractive launch price - while Microsoft's Xbox Series X continues to question whether the price range of $ 500 can really still be achieved with this comparatively thick hardware approach.

    Sony Playstation 5 (official specifications)
  • "Custom" CPU based on Zen 2 with 8 CPU cores + SMT @ ≤3.5 GHz
  • "Custom" GPU based on RDNA2 with 36 shader clusters @ ≤2.23 GHz (≤10.3 TFlops)
  • (Known) graphic features: Hardware-accelerated RayTracing
  • 256 bit GDDR6 memory interface @ 3500 MHz (QDR)
  • 16 GB GDDR6 memory (448 GB / sec)
  • PCI Express 4.0 interface
  • 825 GB "Custom" NVMe SSD @ 5.5 GB / sec transfer rate (8-9 GB / sec with "Custom" hardware compression)
  • Use of the NVMe SSD both as mass storage and as virtual memory
  • Support for additional NVMe SSD via M.2 slot
  • External USB hard drive support
  • own "Tempest 3D" audio solution
  • UltraHD BluRay drive
  • Display features: HDMI 2.1, 8K support & Variable Refresh Rate (VRR)
  • Backward compatibility with the current PSVR headset
  • Backward compatibility with PS4 & PS4Pro games
  • announced for the "Holiday Season 2020", i.e. time frame November / December 2020
  • Sources: Sony advance notice in April 2019 & Sony tech presentation in March 2020

Addendum from October 7, 2020

Twitterer Rogame measures the PS5 SoC in Sony's official teardown video of the PlayStation 5 with a chip area of ​​approx. 308mm². This is comparatively close to the XBSX SoC (officially 360mm²) and therefore significantly larger than the XBSS SoC (officially 197mm²). For the fact that the PS5 SoC (physically 36-40 CU) In terms of hardware, it is more exactly in the middle between Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X. (physically 24 or 56 CU), this is a comparatively large chip area - which suggests that Sony's own adjustments to the RDNA2 architecture are either more significant than with the Microsoft consoles, or that the significantly higher clock rates of the Sony console require more mass transistors to achieve this clock rate also to be able to hold. Another difference could of course also lie in the chosen chip production, which Sony has not given any information about and Microsoft has only given incomplete information - so it is not certain whether the PS5 SoC can be compared that easily with the XBSS / XBSX SoCs.

Xbox Series SXbox Series XPlayStation 5
chip197mm² chip area (official)15.3 billion transistors on 360.45mm² chip area in the N7P production of TSMC (official)~ 308mm² chip area (unofficial)
technology8C / 16T Zen 2, 20 shader clusters RDNA2 (physical: 24), 128 bit GDDR6 interface8C / 16T Zen 2, 52 shader cluster RDNA2 (physical: 56), 320 bit GDDR6 interface8C / 16T Zen 2, 36 shader cluster RDNA2 (physical:?), 256 bit GDDR6 interface
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After Microsoft, Sony has now announced the more or less complete hardware specifications of its NextGen console "Playstation 5" as part of a video stream event. Actually, this presentation should take place at the (now canceled) GDC - in this respect it was probably planned long in advance and is therefore not a reaction to the recent Microsoft disclosure of the Xbox Series X. Compared to this, the Playstation 5 is currently having a hard time in the eyes of the public because you get below the hardware data of the Microsoft console with the Playstation 5: The CPU is still roughly equal, but the GPU is with only 36 shader clusters and up to 10.3 TFlops of computing power on a 256 bit GDDR6 -Interface is apparently smaller than the Microsoft counterpart with 52 shader clusters and 12.1 TFlops of computing power on a 320-bit GDDR6 interface.





Sony Playstation 5
Microsoft Xbox Series X





processor
8C / 16T Zen 2 @ ≤3.5 GHz
8C / 16T Zen 2 @ 3.6 GHz (without SMT @ 3.8 GHz)



Graphics solution
36 CU RDNA2 @ ≤2.23 GHz (≤10.3 TFlops)
52 CU RDNA2 @ 1,825 GHz (12.1 TFlops)



Memory interface
256 bit GDDR6 @ 3500 MHz QDR (448 GB / sec)
320 bit GDDR6 @ 3500 MHz QDR (Ø 476 GB / sec)



Storage
16 GB GDDR6
16 GB GDDR6 (13.5 GB for games)



hard disk
825 GB NVMe SSD @ 5.5 GB / sec (8-9 GB / sec with compression)
1 TB NVMe SSD @ 2.4 GB / sec (4.8 GB / sec with compression)



Price range
???
???



Release
"Holiday Season" 2020
"Holiday Season" 2020