What PS5 Pro means for games like GTA 6

The long-rumored PS5 Pro has been (somewhat) confirmed after specifications and internal documents leaked online. Codenamed “Trinity” in reference to the PS4 Pro’s original codename, “Neo,” the PS5 Pro offers an expected significant increase in specs over the nearly four-year-old base PS5 model. While many may focus on how many teraflops the PS5 Pro will hold, we'll cover the leaked specs and explain how this will impact games running on the device, along with explaining the new 'PlayStation Spectral Supersolution' secret sauce.

CPU

Undoubtedly the smallest change to the base model is that the PS5 Pro apparently uses the same 8-core, 16-thread AMD Zen 2-based CPU as the current PS5. According to the leaked documents, the PS5 Pro will provide a small boost via 'High CPU Frequency Mode', providing an approximate 10% boost over the original 3.5GHz base speed. This new 3.85GHz band is achieved at a cost of as little as 1% of the new GPU's top clock speed. Despite this cost, in reality, games will still run similarly to the underlying machine when the CPU is limited. In short, this upgrade feels more like a marketing statement to let Sony brag about having the fastest console CPU clock speed than anything else. Nothing to see here.

GPU

The GPU is where the real magic happens. Similar to the PS4 Pro, Sony spent the lion's share of the budget on increasing the graphical quality, resolution, and performance of the PS5 Pro.

Specific build changes haven't been listed, but we have some data from the leaks that we can extrapolate. Based on feedback, the PS5 Pro will likely have 60 compute units (CU) compared to the PS5's current 36 CU. This is, at least on paper, a smaller jump than the doubling of CUs that the PS4 Pro has compared to the base PS4.

What we ended up with in theory is a 67% increase in graphical performance compared to the “standard” PS5. But wait, we have more! The GPU itself is almost certainly based on the latest RDNA3 architecture of current AMD Radeon 7000 cards, and this offers some architectural improvements over the older RDNA2-based PS5 GPU. The teraflop number suggested in the documentation adds some weight to this because it states that the PS5 Pro has 33.5TB versus 10.28TB for the standard model. This is almost certainly due to the dual FP32 (floating point) operations that the newer GPU can handle rather than a single issue on the older console. Using these numbers we can conclude that the clock frequency is around 2335MHz for 56 active CUs and 2180MHz for 60 full CUs running. In reality, there will be rare and isolated incidents where computation double can be pushed through the GPU. However, the biggest problem with the PS4 Pro was that the increase in pure compute never matched the bandwidth.

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Credit: CD Project Red

memory

On the memory side, Sony has boosted the PS5's old 14GB/16GB RAM to the newer 18GB/s for the PS5 Pro, which is likely just a benefit of purchasing the newest nodes available. This bump increases system bandwidth by 28%, from 448 GB/s to 576 GB/s, making it higher than the Xbox Series

Although this has not been confirmed, sources have indicated to IGN that approximately 1GB of RAM for the game has been added to the total allocation, opening up 13.5GB available for gaming. This will be vital to the biggest boosts and secret sauce the PS5 Pro has to offer with ray tracing improvements, as well as Sony's own competitor to FSR3 and DLSS: PlayStation Spectral Supersolution (PSSR), which is accelerated using dedicated Machine Learning (ML) hardware.

the “Secret sauce”

In short, we have a PS5 that offers roughly the same CPU performance across eight cores and 16 threads as its non-Pro predecessor, paired with faster memory to feed a 67% faster GPU. Sony's own numbers indicate an approximate 45% increase in raw rasterization performance (rendering 3D objects into pixels on the screen) with the PS5 Pro.

In layman's terms, a current 1080p title on PS5 will move to 3840 x 2160, or a game that was GPU limited to 42fps will now be able to hit 60fps. But the biggest support will come in dedicated PSSR and ML devices, which will be able to increase the resolution of image quality without requiring twice or more power than pure hardware. Just like the Tensor cores on Nvidia GPUs, this dedicated GPU will take a lower target resolution output — say, 1080p — and upscale that via machine learning reconstruction to a 4K output, all for the cost of just a few milliseconds per second. show time.

Not only does this machine learning system provide a significant increase in image quality for all games, unlocking 4K (and possibly better) resolution, but it also solves the problem of high bandwidth and GPU performance, as this data is inferred rather than displayed. All of this means that the PS5 Pro will deliver better-quality output than 4K to your display with much less performance and bandwidth penalty.

The other piece of the graphics pie is of course ray tracing. Based on Sony's patents and developer documentation, the new GPU for PS5 Pro also delivers a 2x core increase in ray tracing performance over optimized hardware. In certain circumstances, it can reach an increase of up to 4x.

Credit: Rockstar Games
Credit: Rockstar Games

So enough specs, what does this mean for gaming? In fact, a lot of this is down to how developers are using the new hardware and features that the PS5 Pro offers. I suspect we'll see three major improvements for existing games on PS5 Pro and two more for new titles, with the first being the most exciting.

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Dynamic resolution and unlocked frame rates

Dynamic resolutions and unlocked frame rates will be offered for free, taking advantage of increased performance and the latest SDK that will likely come with a PS5 firmware update just before the PS5 Pro launches. These features can take existing games that run at uneven frame rates and use Dynamic Resolution Scaling (DRS) to instantly run faster and smoother on Sony's new console.

Games like Alan Wake 2, which struggled to reach 30fps and 60fps in Quality and Performance modes respectively, can now hit 30 and 60fps without the developer getting their hands on the code. Spider-Man 2's unlocked VRR mode, which generates frame rates hovering around the 70s, can now jump to 100s. These are the immediate boosts that players can expect to see applied to their back catalog.

Developer update patch

With development update patches, studios can easily go back to older games (even PS4 titles) and add a refresh to the engine code to increase visual quality via SDK-compatible PSSR libraries, or even just using the increased hardware performance. If they use both, this could mean that an older game that was GPU-bound on PS5 could jump at speeds of up to 4K/60fps… or perhaps even higher, if the headroom is available. Games like Red Dead Redemption 2 can easily be patched with a 4K/60fps refresh that can rely on a PSSR solution to improve image quality, while leaving enough room on the table to boost visual quality and match the highest levels available on the PC version.

By taking advantage of ray tracing increases in conjunction with PSSR reconstruction, the game could have a PS5 Pro version that could target 1440p/60 resolution with an increased level of ray tracing effects. Cyberpunk 2077, for example, seems like a good fit for a potential update here that could bring the console version closer to the high-end PC version.

The PSVR2 could also be a beneficiary of these increases, as PSSR and increased ray tracing capabilities provide an opportunity to deliver better than current PS5 quality performance in a VR headset. Gran Turismo 7 could get the ray tracing effects used in replays during races, but now in VR. The development team can also choose to boost image quality and performance to 120fps and over 4K for enhanced immersion in one of the best games on the platform.

new games

The best thing about new hardware is new games, and with the PS5 Pro, I can see a huge increase in games that put more pressure on frame rates and/or ray tracing as the potential market for them becomes larger. This may be why we haven't seen new first-party titles yet this year, with the PS5 Pro likely being a tentpole machine to show them off at their best.

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We may also see new titles shipping on both PC and consoles come with a “PS5 Pro Mode” that delivers either a 4K reconstructed PSSR image and ray tracing effects not possible on the base PS5, or an increase in overall visuals and performance that's closer to… PC version. Upcoming games Black Myth: Wukong and Star Wars: Outlaws were recently announced to support RTX boosts on PC. Some or all of these can now ship on the PS5 Pro and offer closer compatibility with the high-end PC version, opening the door for more developers to push harder on ray tracing in games. We could also see older releases like Doom, Quake or even Tomb Raider coming with a tracked version on PS5 Pro, creating a slew of cheaper remasters that offer a massive increase in quality and true next-gen improvements for a much lower investment.

But unfortunately, because of this CPU, Rockstar's next visit to Vice City will likely be capped at 30 frames per second.

A mid-cycle update is coming

The PS5 Pro may still not make much sense from the pure market – and that's not a surefire success. But the leaked information shows that with the hardware and software solutions developed by Sony, increases in current and future games could be transformative.

The cost will likely be around $499, which may be with or without the detachable optical drive we saw last year in the PS5 Slim. The design will likely reflect that aesthetic, just with a larger shape. Depending on the specs, they could be on the same 6nm node as power usage is critical, although a smaller 4nm is possible. Whatever the final design and price, the PS5 Pro could breathe new excitement into the console gaming market, as well as its gaming visual capabilities.

But what about GTA 6? I hear you screaming. You'll probably expect a beautiful 4K ray-traced world that looks even better than the trailer. But unfortunately, because of this CPU, Rockstar's next visit to Vice City will likely be capped at 30 frames per second. As was the case before on the PS4 Pro, developers can still ship a single SKU on the base PS5 and Pro models and allow the beefed-up hardware to smooth out any performance wrinkles and increase pixel sharpness on the base model. This will almost certainly happen, but I suspect that between now and when the PS5 Pro is inevitably announced at an event later this year, Sony will be working hard to ensure that developers who go this route are the minority.

Michael Thompson is a freelance writer for IGN.

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