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Sony's next-gen PlayStation will support PS4 games, 8K graphics

The next PlayStation console will not be a half-step upgrade, according to Sony's Mark Cerny. The company's system architect sat down with Wired to talk about the machine, and — rather surprisingly — revealed specifics about what the next iteration of PlayStation hardware has in store.

To start, it's now confirmed that the next PlayStation's architecture will be similar to that of the PlayStation 4, which brings some good news of its own: the new system (which we're just going to refer to as the PlayStation 5 from here on out) will be backward compatible with PS4 titles. This will undoubtedly please fans who were irked by the PS4's inability to play PS3 games.

Support for 8K gaming is also coming to the PlayStation 5. As far as home consoles go, we're really at the front end of 4K gaming and what it has to offer, and displays that support 8K aren't all that common. The upside is, the PS5 should house enough horsepower to run games at 4K and higher frame rates, though Sony didn't go into detail on that front.

Storage is also getting a significant upgrade in the PlayStation 5. Sony is doing away with slower, spinning hard disk drives in favor of SSDs. And Sony promises that these SSDs will be tailor made for the PS5, allowing games to boot up and load resources far more quickly than other drives. Cerny actually demoed this for Wired, doing a fast travel comparison using 2018's Spider-Man. The fast travel transition on a PS4 Pro took 15 seconds. On the PlayStation 5 dev kit, it took less than one. That is impressive.

And those who've invested in Sony's PlayStation VR platform don't have to worry about being left behind with the PS5. The company's future console will support current PSVR hardware, and while it seems likely Sony will upgrade the PSVR at some point, Cerny wasn't keen on discussing that topic with Wired.

Throw updated audio capabilities into the mix, allow for a buzzword or two (ray tracing will be supported by the PS5!) and you'll know everything about what Sony's revealed thus far when it comes to the next PlayStation. It won't be coming anytime in 2019 — we can now say that definitively — but it sure feels like 2020 is a safe bet.

Will the PS5 be the last PlayStation console, at least in the traditional sense? With seemingly everyone pushing toward a streaming future, there's no indication that Sony is eager to join that race. It is clear, however, that the next-gen PlayStation is meant to have a long life — long enough, it appears, for Sony to eventually decide what's next.