The short version: there is strong evidence to suggest that Sony is tapping AMD’s Zen CPU architecture for its next-generation PlayStation 5 console. A senior programmer inside Sony has been actively working on improving certain aspects of the Zen core’s microarchitecture for some reason.
Now, the lengthier and slightly more tedious version.
Simon Pilgrim is a Principal Programmer at Sony Interactive Entertainment in Europe, and a member of the company’s Advanced Technology Group. He’s been employed by Sony for the past ten years. Linux-focused website Phoronix noticed that he’s been diligently contributing improvements to the LLVM compiler stack of AMD’s first-generation Zen architecture via Github.
LLVM is a CPU compiler that’s currently part of the PS4 development kit. As we know, the PS4 uses an aging Jaguar-based semi-custom APU with Radeon graphics.
As Eurogamer points out, there’s only one logical reason that Sony would be leveraging Zen architecture to improve a key part of its developer toolchain: because Ryzen is a key ingredient in the PS5.
However, it’s important to note the tags in those Github commits which are “Znver1,” referring to AMD’s first-generation Ryzen CPU. Before anyone gets upset that a future PS5 won’t ship with bleeding edge tech, remember two things.
First is that the R&D cycle for future consoles takes years and can typically begin before its predecessor is even released. Second is that if Sony’s working with AMD on the PS5, it’s reasonable to expect a very powerful, custom built Ryzen + Vega APU.
There’s nothing wrong with the original Ryzen CPUs–especially compared to the PS4’s Jaguar cores–it’s the graphics side of this equation that is crucial now.
Eurogamer did reach out to Sony regarding their recent work on the Zen architecture, but were met with a boilerplate “no comment on rumors and speculation” response. And bear in mind this is firmly in rumor territory, but it’s not a stretch to envision both Sony and Microsoft partnering once again with AMD for their next-generation hardware.
Potential graphics capabilities aside, here’s to hoping an x86-based PS4 successor with similar compilers and core architecture technologies means backwards compatibility.
So when could a Ryzen-powered PS5 happen? My colleague Kevin Murnane has a detailed look at the intricacies and timing considerations that would go into this console launch.