Sony didn’t “simply incorporate” an AMD RDNA 2 GPU into the PS5, it helped build it

Not just a PC part, but now we're expecting something pretty damn similar on PC...

We all knew that Sony’s new Playstation 5 would house AMD hardware just like Microsoft’s Xbox Series X. And with AMD’s Navi 2X in the works, there was a good chance, along with the Xbox Series X, the PS5 would include an RDNA 2 GPU. In Sony’s deep dive, today, lead system architect Mark Cerny confirmed that it will utilise the yet-unreleased architecture, but that this GPU won’t simply be a “PC part”.

After confirming that Sony’s PS5 will house “a custom AMD GPU based on their RDNA 2 technology,” Cerny added, “if you see a similar discrete GPU available as a PC card at roughly the same time as we release our console, that means our collaboration with AMD succeeded in producing technology useful in both worlds. It doesn’t mean that we at Sony simply incorporated the PC part into our console.”

What he is really emphasising here, then, is that AMD has worked closely with Sony to ensure that the GPU’s feature set is specifically tailored to the PS5’s needs. Along with reduced power consumption and performance optimisation, this feature set, Cerny says, is what AMD is focusing on.

Cerny describes the need for a few things from the AMD GPU:

  • “New features”
  • “Higher efficiency”
  • “Backwards compatibility”
  • “Familiarity for developers”

These should combine generational “revolutions” with stable “evolutions,” ensuring that game developers are able to make the most of this next-gen hardware. Developer freedom seemed like a staple of Sony’s deep dive, and features that maximise this are likely to be shown in the PS5’s RDNA 2.0 GPU.

Specifically, Cerny says that the GPU should be one that supports ray tracing, but that doesn’t force developers to use it. Similarly, it should support primitive shaders, but not force developers to use them. Everything should be in game developers’ hands, it seems.

Whatever the case, RDNA 2.0 is confirmed for the PlayStation 5. There’s only so much ‘specificity’ that can be thrust upon a GPU, and underlying this will be an AMD RDNA 2.0 GPU that will eventually be available for us PC folk.