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The PlayStation 5's method for SoC boost allows for dramatic increase in GPU clocks much higher than PCs, no matter the ambient temperature

The PlayStation 5 boosts the SoC based on a "completely different paradigm". (Image Source: Let'sGoDigital)
The PlayStation 5 boosts the SoC based on a "completely different paradigm". (Image Source: Let'sGoDigital)
Sony offered details into how the boost clocks of the Zen 2 CPU and RDNA 2 GPU in the PS5's SoC are regulated. Sony's approach of using a constant power but varying frequency should allow all PS5 units to process data in the same manner irrespective of ambient temperature. It also allows the GPU to boost way higher than anything that is available from AMD in the PC space.

According to the PlayStation 5's just-announced specifications, the 8-core 16-thread AMD Zen 2 CPU can boost up to 3.5 GHz while the custom RDNA 2 GPU can boost up to 2.23 GHz. PS5 Chief Architect Mark Cerny said these are "capped speeds". The PlayStation 5 will not boost in the same way as do regular PC CPUs or GPUs. Regular PCs and even the Xbox Series X boost based on available thermal headroom. Therefore, in places where the ambient temperature is high, one can expect throttling and loss of frame rates.

In case of the PS5, however, things are a bit different. The console is given a certain power limit based on the cooling system. Essentially, the SoC runs at a constant power, but the frequency varies depending on the workload. According to Sony, this ensures that "all PS5 consoles process the same workloads with the same performance level in any environment, no matter what the ambient temperature may be."

The PS5 looks at the overall activity the CPU and GPU are doing instead of just temperatures. To account for silicon differences, the PS5 decides on the ideal boost clock based on a "model SoC", which is sort of a reference point for every PS5. Cerny notes that the CPU and GPU do not always run at the "capped clocks". The PS5 also uses AMD SmartShift technology to send unused power from the CPU to the GPU for that added graphics boost.

This approach to boost means that the GPU can hit speeds way higher than what is traditionally seen in the PC space allowing for extracting the maximum performance from the available 36 compute units (CUs). However, developers need to ensure to keep power consumption spikes at a minimum so as to not bring down SoC clocks.

Details of the actual cooling solution used are reserved for a future teardown.

Source(s)

PlayStation 5 Live Stream

Eurogamer

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 03 > The PlayStation 5's method for SoC boost allows for dramatic increase in GPU clocks much higher than PCs, no matter the ambient temperature
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam, 2020-03-18 (Update: 2020-03-18)
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam
I am a cell and molecular biologist and computers have been an integral part of my life ever since I laid my hands on my first PC which was based on an Intel Celeron 266 MHz processor, 16 MB RAM and a modest 2 GB hard disk. Since then, I’ve seen my passion for technology evolve with the times. From traditional floppy based storage and running DOS commands for every other task, to the connected cloud and shared social experiences we take for granted today, I consider myself fortunate to have witnessed a sea change in the technology landscape. I honestly feel that the best is yet to come, when things like AI and cloud computing mature further. When I am not out finding the next big cure for cancer, I read and write about a lot of technology related stuff or go about ripping and re-assembling PCs and laptops.