In Theory: Would A Hypothetical PS5 With A Ryzen CPU And 10 TFLOPs GPU Deliver True Photorealism?

PS5 will surely deliver breathtaking visuals but will it achieve true photorealism?

Posted By | On 11th, Jul. 2017 Under Article, Graphics Analysis


If there’s any takeaway from the upcoming launch of the Xbox One X, it’s that the hardware arms race itself isn’t over yet—it’s just that Sony and Microsoft’s game of one-upmanship is playing out over increasingly shorter cycles. Yes, there is almost certainly going to be a PS5 (and a successor to the One/One X, whatever that’ll be named). And until either console maker cracks the secret to effective cloud game streaming sometime in the next decade or so, there will continue to be new console generations/iterationss. But, with backwards compatibility and, well, iterativeness, being important aspects of console DNA now, the question remains: just how much will the experience of gaming change over the next couple years? Would a hypothetical PS5 with a Ryzen CPU and a 10 TFLOP GPU deliver something that’s categorically a generational leap over what we have right now?

It’s not easy to answer this question, and not for the reasons you’d expect. Of course, an iterative model for console upgrades reduces the scope for change by its very definition. This is evident in the way Microsoft and Sony have positioned the current crop of mid-cycle upgrades: the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X are really just machines that play the same games as their predecessors, only better.

"There’s a good chance that aspects apart from graphics—world simulation, physics, AI….the actualy core gameplay part—might get a transformational leg up with the PS5."

The likely inclusion of a Ryzen CPU will improve the situation for the PS5. Today’s consoles are heavily biased towards GPU performance. This has resulted in developers utilizing GPGPU functionality to offload general processing tasks to the graphics unit. While this does cut the consoles’ anaemic Jaguar CPUs some slack, it means that the GPUs themselves can’t be fully utilized for graphics loads. With a much better CPU-GPU balance, the PS5 could better utilize its GPU for graphics functionality. Apart from this, there’s a good chance that aspects apart from graphics—world simulation, physics, AI…the actualy core gameplay part—might get a transformational leg up with the PS5. The eighth-gen consoles’ Jaguar processors have the main reason that games this generational are really just better-looking versions of last-gen titles. A significantly faster processor would enable developers to create deeper, richer worlds. Visuals aren’t everything in a game and richer gameplay possibilities can have a much greater impact than better-looking hair.

Keeping in mind the timeframes  a new console cycle demands, a hypothetical PS5 or Xbox One X successor is not likely to feature more than twice the GPU power of the One X. This is more or less in line with analyst Damian Thong’s prediction that a Playstation model with a 10 TLOP GPU will release in 2018. A 10 TFLOP GPU would most certainly count as a generational leap over the original PS4 in terms of graphics horsepower at 1080p. And that, truly, is the problem. Because the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X are both positioned as “4K consoles,” it simply wouldn’t be viable from a marketing standpoint to let PS5 titles have a lower rendering target. At 1080p, a 10 TFLOP PS5 offers over 5 times the GPU power of a PS4, enough to allow for a generational leap in visuals. At 4K, however, much of the leap in graphics prowess is wasted on getting games running at 4K in the first place, with not much overhead for improved visuals. In the PC space, the 1080 Ti makes for a good comparison. It most certainly can run today’s games in 4K at a fairly high framerate. But what happens when you dial the quality of the visuals up a few notches?

Now, even if the PS5 shipped with a significantly faster GPU than expected, and even if it was to target a lower rendering resolution, we’d still run into steep sides of the uncanny valley. The closer visuals get to being life-like without quite getting there, the greater the sense that something’s not quite right. However, as visuals inch towards photo-realism, the law of diminishing returns starts to apply—more computational effort for less easily-discernible benefit. Take Nathan Drake’s model from the Uncharted series. Drake’s character model in Uncharted 4 has over twice the poly count compared to Uncharted 3. Without a shadow of a doubt, Nathan Drake looks quite amazing in Uncharted 4 with beautiful animations, new skin properties and shaders. However the new shaders and lighting tech aside—does Nathan Drake look multiple times as good as the model from Uncharted 3? Going from the original Quake’s 400 polygon characters to just a few thousand in the early GTA titles takes you from a formless blob to a reasonable, emotive approximation of a person.

"According to Tim Sweeney, around 40 TFLOPS of GPU power is required to generate “truly” photorealistic dynamic scenes."

The human brain’s attuned to the subtle imperfections in a computer-generated scene—this is why even photorealistic CGI characters can look slightly “off.” According to Tim Sweeney, around 40 TFLOPS of GPU power is required to generate “truly” photorealistic dynamic scenes. While visuals will get better and achieve huge bumps, the PS5 may still wind up on the uncanny side of the valley. And to top things off, the breakdown of Moore’s Law means that we’re not likely to reach 40 Teraflop console boxes as soon as we’d like to think. With longer hardware development cycles, it’ll take hardware manufacturers a longer time to create hardware that powerful, and even longer for it to trickle down to console-friendly pricepoints.

The PS5 as a console is definitely happening, and likely to happen sooner rather than later. It will surely deliver breathtaking visuals, implement high end motion/facial capture technologies and middelware, and games will look better than what we have on the PS4, specially during its twilight years. We’d take Thong’s prediction of a 2018 release with a pinch of salt, but a timeframe sometime before 2020 is very likely. However, we’d temper our expectations a little. We expect multiple fold improvements in visuals and richer gameplay options due to a better CPU/GPU combination. “True” photorealism, however, will most likely be a difficult aim to achieve.

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  • Demetre M

    That desperation for PS5 is real and not going to be 10tflops keep waiting XboxTwo is already in development earlier then PS5 so it will launch along side of it with 15Tflops and more powerful specs then PS5 lmfao Greatness never comes

  • Holeybartender

    Sony never cared because PlayStation owners didn’t care, 10.3% for PS3 and 13.4% for PS4 or something like that..

    • hvd hvd

      Nope as long as sony can make money on ps now u will never have real bc

    • Holeybartender

      Not nope,those are actual percentages and started long before PS Now was even a thing. The 10% was when they made the PS3 Slim and the 13% was at the time of Sony’s PS4 spec reveal. PlayStation owners don’t care,if they did then Sony would’ve taken the time to implement it.

      ” U will never have real bc”

      LMAO and you think you do now with the Xbox One? You poor misguided little lamb.Neither Sony or Microsoft has real bc on the their consoles. That 360 “emulator” you think is on the Xbox One,not there. PS Now streams a digital copy and the XB1 downloads it to your system. All you’re doing is using the 360 disc as an activation code to unlock a digital copy from their store. Why do you think they have limited 360 games available for their “backwards compatibility” feature? Because it’s not bc and it takes time to make a digital version of the games. Real bc,Ha!

    • hvd hvd

      you are a moron use some common sense why make it free when ps now can charge you get a life.

    • Holeybartender

      You’re the moron who can’t get it that backwards compatibility and PS Now are two different things. PS Now is a game streaming service,not backwards compatibility. They are charging you for a service,like Cable,like Netfix,etc. You freaking idiots can’t grasp that.

  • YOUDIEMOFO

    I trust what Tim has to say….. The man is a living legend and has never been truly wrong regarding his technical prowess.

  • MiamiBeachMedMan

    Listen….whenever the ps5 launches (probably 2020, if they’re listening) hopefully the aim will be to deliver enough power to achieve 4k@60fps with no compromises…period. Developers should have enough headroom to deliver 4k@60fps, and still be able to develop new ways to play…it would be nice to have enough ram to make it possible for city sized playscapes to have every building be able to be entered and explored…hopefully we will see exciting ways that developers use the power. I don’t want to hear about 8k@30fps….I’m afraid that’s where this is going, and it’s a waste of potential, imo.

    This gen has delivered some really great games, but they aren’t much different is scope or scale from the ps3/360 gen. By 2020 I hope for more. If ps5 launches in 2019, I’m not sure we’ll get the more I’m hoping for.


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