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Next-gen PlayStation hardware details revealed

The architect of PlayStations past and future talks about the company's upcoming console. Don't expect it in 2019, and don't call it "PlayStation 5."

James Martin/CNET

We have our first details about the next generation of PlayStation.

Mark Cerny, the lead system architect for Sony's popular PlayStation 4 gaming console sat down with Wired Tuesday to reveal some notable details about upcoming hardware, like how it's based on AMD silicon and will finally incorporate much-requested SSD storage to speed up load times. 

But don't look for it in 2019, and the commonly dubbed "PlayStation 5" may not be called that when all is said and done.

Sony won't be at E3 in June this year and AMD's earnings release is scheduled for April 24, so it's probably not surprising that Sony decided to provide us with some details now. AMD CEO Lisa Su took to Twitter to crow about the design win.

AMD's Navi graphics architecture is rumored to launch at E3. It's based on the company's 7-nanometer process, like the Radeon VII introduced at CES this year, but is expected to have a better power profile than AMD's graphics processors traditionally have. The CPU is also from AMD, based on the company's latest third-generation Zen 2 core.

According to Cerny, the particular customization for the new PlayStation will add support for ray tracing -- the technology used by GPUs to generate more accurate lighting effects like shadows and reflections in real time, with less of a hit on performance -- plus 8K graphics and a custom audio processor to deliver better surround sound.

Cerny also said that the console would include a solid-state drive. SSDs have much faster read and write performance than traditional spinning hard drives, which can dramatically affect game load times. High-resolution textures can also benefit from it, to improve transition time between scenes. 

He demonstrated it to Wired using 2018's Spider-Man. Fast-traveling (basically teleporting to a different point on the map) took 15 seconds on the PS4, but doing so on a next gen development kit took 0.8 seconds -- that's a lot less time spent on loading screens.

Sony claims the SSD will be even faster than a typical model: "An ultra high-speed SSD is the key to our next generation, and our vision is to make loading screens a thing of the past, enabling creators to build new and unique gameplay experiences," a spokesperson said in an email to CNET. 

Though it hasn't revealed exactly how it will attain a new level of performance, some possibilities include using caching, like Intel Optane, or possibly using some unknown future generation of SSD.

First published April 17 at 7:07 a.m. PT.
Updated at 1:36 a.m. PT: Adds Spider-Man comparison.