PS5 GPU specs could point to less impressive ray tracing compared to Xbox Series X

By Sherif Saed, Thursday, 19 March 2020 09:09 GMT

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.

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