19 March 2020 14:32
PS5 and Xbox Series X may end up having different approaches to ray tracing. By now you've probably seen the PS5's full hardware specs, and how they compare to those of the Xbox Series X. The disparity in GPU power between them could lead to different priorities when it comes to ray tracing. In Mark Cerny's PS5 tech deep dive, the lead system architect didn't talk a lot about ray tracing. He confirmed that the PS5 GPU can deliver hardware-accelerated ray tracing, but not through a dedicated block like we see today in Nvidia's RTX line-up.
Just like Xbox Series X, ray tracing support comes from the compute units (CU) of the GPU itself. This puts it at a disadvantage compared to Xbox Series X by the sheer number of CU differences between their GPUs. PS5 has 36 CUs compared to Xbox Series X's 52 CUs. Although PS5 GPU has a clock speed advantage, it's not likely to be enough to close the CU gap. This could explain why Cerny was wary of promising too much on ray tracing in his talk, opting instead to namedrop possible uses like global illumination and reflections without committing to full ray tracing. Whereas Microsoft, better demonstrated the Xbox Series X GPU capabilities by demoing the purest form of ray tracing: path tracing in Minecraft. Cerny made no mention of variable rate shading, or AI and machine learning.
This obviously isn't the end of the conversation, but out of the gate, the PS5's ray tracing feature set is not as strong as the Xbox Series X. Despite our worst fears, the PS5 is still on track for its holiday 2020 launch. At least according to Sony's public relations team. Speaking to Dutch website LetsGoDigital, Sony's Amsterdam PR agency BAAS said that despite the coronavirus pandemic, the PS5 will still launch as planned without a delay. Of course, this isn't a guarantee. The situation around the world is in flux, so we could still see a delay. But the fact that Sony's still confident about making its targeted release date is good news. Analysts had expected a potential delay to both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X. If there isn't a delay, then we may see a significantly reduced supply of the consoles, meaning it would be hard to get a hold of the new hardware at launch. The PS5 has remained a mystery, at least compared to the Xbox Series X. Microsoft has announced many of its console's specs and features, while the only thing we really know for sure about the PS5 is its name, expected release date and a few internal specs thanks to information from component suppliers. These features include the presence of ray tracing capabilities for fancier graphics and a speedy SSD for storage. If you can't wait to hear more about the PS5, then make sure you tune into to the PS5 reveal event Sony is hosting on its PlayStation Blog today starting at 9 a.m. PT/12 p.m. ET. We'll be covering the latest announcements as they break, so stay tuned for the biggest PS5 updates.