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What the PlayStation 5 tells us about AMD's 2020 graphics card plans

(Image credit: Pixabay)

Sony has offered a bit of clarity on when its next-generation PlayStation 5 game console will be available—it's headed for a holiday 2020 launch, which likely means sometime in November or possibly December of next year.

This is not a surprise—we suspected the PS5 would debut sometime in 2020 when Sony and AMD revealed earlier this year that the next-gen console was in development, with AMD hardware inside. However, Sony has now officially committed to a holiday 2020 release, and also confirmed it will in fact be called "PlayStation 5."

"These updates may not be a huge surprise, but we wanted to confirm them for our PlayStation fans, as we start to reveal additional details about our vision for the next generation," Sony Interactive Entertainment president and CEO Jim Ryan stated in a blog post.

For the most part, console gaming is out of our purview, this being PC Gamer and all. However, there is some interesting crossover in terms of the hardware. Consoles in general have trended towards PC-like designs, and the PS5 will further that ongoing evolution with a custom AMD Ryzen system-on-chip (SoC) that combines Zen 2 CPU cores with a Navi GPU.

As it relates to that, the Navi GPU is one of the things that makes the PS5 launch interesting (and relevant) to us. Sony confirmed the PS5 will support ray tracing, a feature that is not yet available on any of AMD's consumer GPUs, including its latest Navi products (Radeon RX 5700 XT, 5700, and 5500).

Now that we know the PS5 is headed to retail shelves in November or December of next year, it begs the question, will AMD also launch GPUs with real-time ray tracing support for the PC around that time?

AMD is still mum on the topic, at least as it relates to a time frame. However, AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su did indicate in January that ray-tracing hardware for PCs is "deep in development, and that development is concurrent between hardware and software," according to PCWorld.

"The consumer doesn't see a lot of benefit today because the other parts of the ecosystem are not ready," Dr. Su said at the time.

In the absence of an official announcement from AMD, the PS5's pending launch is our best indicator of when there will be a Navi GPU with support for ray tracing.

As for the PS5, Ryan also talked about "two key innovations" to the console's new controller. You can read more about them in the blog post, but the short of it is, the controller will feature haptic feedback in place of the current rumble motor, and adaptive triggers to allow developers to program different resistance levels. We'll have to wait and see if the DualShock 5 (or whatever it ends up being called) manages to crack our list of the best PC controllers.