DF Weekly: New PS5 Pro GPU details emerge – including a 2.35GHz max boost clock


A new week and a fresh Monday brings with it the hopefully welcome prospect of a new episode of DF Direct Weekly – and this week, the team sit down to discuss topics as diverse as Starfield’s planned performance upgrade for Xbox Series X, the latest Switch 2 rumours, more path tracing in Capcom RE Engine titles and some new information on the PlayStation 5 Pro’s GPU – such as a max clock speed of 2.35GHz.

PS5 Pro Graphics Details

It’s the PS5 Pro graphics details I’m going to concentrate on today because the information casts an interesting new light on the upcoming console – and may deliver clarity on some of the question marks surrounding GPU performance and backwards compatibility with the existing PS5. Leaked specifications, derived from Sony’s developer portal, suggest that the PS5 Pro has 30 WGP (Work Group Processors) delivering 33.5 teraflops of performance. This is up against the standard model with 18 WGP offering up an equivalent 10.23 teraflops.

DF Direct Weekly #161

On the surface level, that’s an extra 227 percent of performance, except that the same Sony documents suggest only an extra 45 percent of actual game throughput. Part of the explanation comes from the RDNA 3 architecture with its dual-issue FP32 support, which doubles the amount of instructions processed, but which does not typically double game performance.

Video Embed of DF Direct Weekly #161

Please enjoy this video embed of DF Direct Weekly #161 with our compliments.Watch on YouTube
  • 0:00:00 Introduction
  • 0:01:41 News 01: Bethesda announces big Starfield update
  • 0:23:05 News 02: AMD sees massive gaming revenue decline
  • 0:40:14 News 03: New PS5 Pro GPU details!
  • 0:58:27 News 04: Switch 2 rumour roundup
  • 1:07:40 News 05: RTX Remix getting DLSS 3.5 Ray Reconstruction
  • 1:16:02 News 06: Resident Evil titles get path tracing!
  • 1:27:14 News 07: AMD Strix APUs pack great integrated GPU performance
  • 1:35:06 Supporter Q1: Could Nintendo games use DLSS 2 to reach 4K output on Switch 2?
  • 1:40:23 Supporter Q2: What features would you add to Switch 2, if you could pick anything?
  • 1:45:25 Supporter Q3: Could the potential merging of Xbox and PC development hurt Xbox?
  • 1:50:13 Supporter Q4: Could developers run a game’s logic at high rates to improve responsiveness, while keeping frame-rate untouched?
  • 1:54:19 Supporter Q5: Gaming handhelds theoretically seem as fast as a Series S. Why are they slower in practice?
  • 1:57:40 Supporter Q6: Could Valve build a viable console platform to compete with Sony?
  • 2:03:16 Supporter Q7: If you had to pick between #StutterStruggle and FSR 2 artifacts, which would you pick?

Backwards Compatibility and Clock Speed

However, beyond that, there has been confusion about backwards compatibility support with the standard PS5. We know that the PS5 has 36 compute units (two CUs per WGP), running at a maximum of 2.23GHz. However, ‘reverse-engineering’ PS5 Pro’s 33.5TF figue suggests a 2.18GHz clock from its 60 CUs, lower than that of the standard model. Something doesn’t quite make sense then, with some suggesting that the new console actually has 56 CUs, with four disabled, which would deliver a higher clock to hit that 33.5TF – and perhaps in the process provide a hardware balance that’s a better fit for PS5 game compatibility.

Cache Structure and GPU Changes

Recent details we’ve seen – a part of Sony’s recent developer disclosures – seem to tidy up the discrepancies to a certain degree. The standard PS5 features 18 WGP over two shader engines/four shader arrays in a 5-4-5-4 configuration, while the Pro does indeed feature 30 active WGPs over two shader engines/four shader arrays in an 8-7-8-7 set-up. Both consoles, therefore, feature four deactivated CUs – and this is confirmation of 60 CUs in the new machine.

Implications of GPU Enhancements

This means that the stated 33.5TF does indeed suggest a slightly lower clock-speed for the GPU in the region of 2.18GHz – which may be the case in general operation, but the new information also reveals that the PlayStation 5 Pro can boost higher than its standard counterpart, to a maximum of 2.35GHz (a theoretical maximum of 36.1TF). However, similar to the original PS5, system performance is limited by a power ceiling, so it’s rather rare for the GPU to hit that maximum and only certain games will boost that high.

GPU Evolution and Features

The cache structure of the new GPU changes in some areas. The 4MB of L2 cache per WGP remains the same, while L1 doubles from 128KB to 256KB to accommodate the larger numbers of compute units per shader engine. L0 cache also improves from 16KB to 32KB, which Sony says is to accommodate higher ray tracing performance.

Elsewhere, the PlayStation 5 Pro’s GPU evolves to include DirectX12 Ultimate features that were omitted from the original console – so, hardware support for variable rate shading is included, along with extra features for hybrid MSAA. The primitive shader features found in RDNA 1 and the vanilla PS5 are augmented with full support for mesh shaders, which should hopefully see more widespread adoption of a very useful feature.

Enhancing Game Performance

Extra compute power paired with machine learning-based reconstruction have proven to be a potent combination in the PC space and both working in tandem should show a clear and noticeable improvement over the standard console in terms of both image quality and performance. Sony also appears to be offering developers an easier route forward in retrofitting existing PS5 games with PSSR – and I would expect its required inputs to be similar to those used by FSR 2. So, extra resolution and a more potent reconstruction technique could be game-changing – especially for those 60fps performance modes that the vanilla PS5 is struggling with.

Design Improvements and Expectations

There are clearly lessons learned in the Pro’s design too: I rather liked the PlayStation 4 Pro in its day, but there were issues and challenges for developers. Too many games simply delivered the same, or slightly tweaked experiences as the vanilla PS4 version – just running at a higher resolution. PS5 Pro looks like an altogether more solid package: enough compute power to increase resolution if needed, but a superior reconstruction technology that should hopefully be able to deliver convincing 4K results from 1080p inputs.

This time around, without a new wave of displays to justify a console upgrade, Sony has it all to prove in pitching the idea of a PlayStation 5 Pro – but I also remember being impressed with the results of PS4 Pro’s GPU once I saw the demos in the flesh and I genuinely can’t wait to see what this new machine is capable of.