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Sony reveals first details about the backwards compatible PlayStation 5

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Mar 18, 2020, 2:42 PM EDT

Less than a week after Microsoft revealed some technical demos of its next-gen Xbox Series X, Sony has fired back with its own deep dive into its upcoming PlayStation 5. This took place over a livestreamed talk focused on technical areas rather than game libraries or other features.

PS5 lead system architect Mark Cerny led the talk, which is included below, touching primarily on the hardware coming to the next-gen console:

Cerny explained that a solid-state drive was the number one request from game developers, which made it a core need for the console. "Boot the game in a second, no load screens," and more were the dream of the powerful SSD's inclusion - but it was only one piece of the puzzle. The results, however, were 5.5GB/second — or about a hundred times faster than the PS4. Cerny also confirmed that those in love with their PS4s will be pleased: the PS5 will be backwards compatible with those games. Of the top 100 PS4 games, Cerny says almost all will be playable on the PS5 at launch.

Like the Xbox Series X, the PS5 will include ray tracing, used to create hyper-realistic depictions of light. But, speaking of sound, Cerny described the PS5's 3D sound in detail. Intense, immersive audio was developed by Sony particularly for the console, through something called the Tempest Engine. This means that all gamers will get this experience — not just those with fancy sound bars or headphones. In fact, they're creating a sweet spot for those using speakers where gamers can find themselves in "virtual surround sound." Much of this is still in development, though 3D sound for headphones is ready.

Little else, like games or an actual look at the console, was available, as this was a developer-focused conference aimed to inspire creators with all the new technical capabilities. But there will be plenty of time to jazz gamers up about the console as Cerny said that the PS5 will launch at "year-end" of 2020.