In an open letter on Sunday, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan declared that PlayStation is “joining forces with the United Nations” to combat climate change. The statement hinted at improvements in the PlayStation 5 to make it more power-efficient, but Ryan initially focused on how vital it is to consider the carbon footprint of gaming consoles while sharing some technological details in the PlayStation 4 that help reduce its footprint.
At SIE, we have made substantial commitments and efforts to reduce the power consumption of the PS4 by utilizing efficient technologies such as System-on-a-Chip architecture integrating a high-performance graphics processor, die shrink, power scaling, as well as energy saving modes such as Suspend-to-RAM. For context, we estimate the carbon emissions we have avoided to date already amount to almost 16 million metric tons, increasing to 29 million metric tons over the course of the next 10 years (which equals the CO2 emissions for the nation of Denmark in 2017).
If you’re interested in the interplay of technology with power consumption (and battery life), it’s worth paying attention to what Sony is saying here. These bullet points—System-on-Chip architecture with integrated GPU, die shrink (meaning moving the manufacturing process to a smaller scale as measured in nanometers), and energy-saving modes—are what to look for in everything from game consoles to desktop PCs to mobile phones.
When you see these technologies, you should expect lower consumption and (where applicable) longer battery life. When you see one or more of these technologies , expect the inverse—we have reached a point in electronics design where the small choices matter, and seemingly minor architectural differences like graphics (or Wi-Fi) built into the CPU (as opposed to being provided from a peripheral) matter.
Moving back to the new power-saving feature in the PS5, Ryan says that it will enable much lower power consumption than the PS4 during suspended gameplay. Ryan says the feature could save energy equivalent to 1,000 US homes if one million PS5 users enable it—which strongly implies that the feature will not only be optional but likely off by default.
PlayStation 5 is expected to launch sometime in 2020, with an eight-core Ryzen “Zen 2” series CPU and AMD Radeon GPU with ray-tracing support. It should also feature solid-state storage—which is a welcome change, particularly in terms of game save and load times. I remember going completely cowboy and replacing the stock conventional hard drive in my Playstation 3 with an Intel X-25M SSD many years ago—that reduced save times from 80 seconds to three or four seconds. Back in the spring, Sony showed Wired similar but much more modern results, decreasing load time in from 15 seconds on a PS4 Pro to 0.8 seconds on a dev kit with SSD.