Official Teardown Gives Unexpected Look Into PS5

With Sony and Microsoft still a month away from the public release of their next-generation game consoles, you’d expect technical details of their respective systems to still be under a veil of secrecy. But both companies look to be taking things a bit differently this generation, as it becomes increasingly clear that modern consumers are interested in what makes their devices tick. Today, Sony really threw down the gauntlet by beating the tech media to the punch and posting their own in-depth teardown on the new PlayStation 5.

Unsurprisingly, the video after the break is almost entirely in Japanese. But even if you don’t know the language, there’s plenty of interesting details to be had. For one thing, the heatsink and fan that cools the PS5’s AMD CPU and GPU are collectively so massive that they appear to take up most of the console’s internal volume.

In fact, the heatsink itself is so large that the motherboard is actually mounted to it instead of the other way around. So if you want to take out the board, you have to unbolt it from the heatsink and remove it first. In the process you’ll expose the unique liquid metal thermal compound that Sony apparently developed specifically for this application. Good luck to you if any dust gets in that expensive-looking goop.

It’s also interesting to note that, unlike the previous two generations of Sony consoles, the PS5 has no discrete hard drive. Instead, onboard flash with a custom controller is used to provide 825 GB of storage for software. Hopefully Sony has put the requisite amount of R&D into their wear leveling, as a shot flash chip will mean a whole new motherboard. That said, gamers with extensive collections will be happy to see there appears to be an expansion bay where you can install your own M.2 drive.

Between this and the recent PS4 assembly line tour, it’s refreshing to see a company like Sony be a bit more transparent. After years of adversarial treatment from the tech giants, we’d almost forgotten that the customer is supposed to be king.

65 thoughts on “Official Teardown Gives Unexpected Look Into PS5

      1. I used a gallium based thermal compound and it soaked into an aluminium block but didn’t destroy it as I expected.

        I’d lapped the CPU heat spreader down to copper and the block I did use was copper. Still seemed to stain it silver coloured. Not entirely sure if Im honest what was going on.

        It worked fine as far as I noticed for the entire 5 year life cycle of that setup I had.

    1. To quote wiki since I have no time to waste on internet arguments:
      The most effective (and most expensive) pastes consist almost entirely of liquid metal, usually a variation of the alloy galinstan, and have thermal conductivities in excess of 13 W/(m·K). These are difficult to apply evenly and have the greatest risk of causing malfunction due to spillage. These pastes contain gallium, which is highly corrosive to aluminium and cannot be used on aluminium heat sinks.

      I know a grampa when i see one rant here.

  1. Simply doing a teardown video (which was going to be done and will be done by others anyway) doesn’t exactly equate to the PS5 being open source or that they have not taken many, many steps to slow down customers from open sourcing or making their own OS for the hardware. It will happen but let’s not think for a second that the PS5 is suddenly doing an about face here.

      1. Nobody. I think the point is more that they are not exactly changing gears here. The PS5 is incredibly locked down. Helpful video but it didn’t cost them much to make it and it will help their customers install optional storage space, which requires some disassembly.

      1. I dunno tbh. I mean I didn’t realize the PS4 OS was built upon a lot of open source softwares but past that neither console was or is anywhere close to “open source” past “requires an open source of fresh air or your console will be full of sadness”

    1. Unless everyone on the plane brought a ps5 and all tore them down and strategically placed the scraping of paste on the same part, I don’t think these represent any sort of risk.

      1. The difference was… the PS4 Pro teardown wasn’t interesting…. the PS4 has a boring CPU and moderately boring GPU… everyone wants to know exactly what is in this round of consoles as they are quite different design wise.

  2. They are trying to push their product to crypto miners by being open about specs sooner than the competitors, fostering earlier single-customer volume sales… just like graphics card manufacturers do, on a more frequent scale. They did it with early releases of the PS3 and PS4, too… with the “core arrays” of a hundred or so consoles wired up for parallel work. If memory serves, they were arranged as “Beowulf Clusters”, Linux even had distros made to take advantage of this.

    1. They lose money on each system sold, making it up in game licensing fees. Why would they at this point want to encourage non-gaming use cases? It may be a side effect of revealing components, but I doubt it’s a goal.

      1. Yes, it would be weird for them to push the console to crypto miners…
        Considering that Sony explicitly has locked their earlier consoles from running other systems, and not really wanted to be of help with developing such for that matter.

        The PS3 for an example were a rather fascinating computing power house, even to this day.
        It were a having a rather good 3.2 GHz seven core CPU (Actually 8 core, but one were for yield optimization.)
        And for the cost of a PS3 back in the day, it were a cheap platform. So cheap that the US military in fact build a “super computer” with it….

        Then Sony made a new OS that blocked the gaps in the fence, when it comes to switching the OS. There is likely some work around, but by now, a PS3 isn’t as much of an amazing price to performance deal as it once were. (except, some are very cheap on the second hand market. But performance per watt is lack luster compared to modern x86 CPUs.)

        Sometimes I wonder if the Cell broadband processor the PS3 used could have been improved a bit, give it a few more cores, more memory bus capacity, and a better GPU, and obviously more RAM. It would have likely performed rather admirably.

        Though, IBM axed their PowerPC line, forcing both Microsoft and Sony to switch to another platform. Since PowerPC server’s were not sufficiently “competitive” for IMB to consider them worth while investing more R&D into, so they decided to not produce PowerPC chips anymore, then they changed their mind since they still make them…. But I guess IBM will have a hard time getting back the two biggest PowerPC customers. I guess we can call this “shooting oneself in the foot.” (This is though if I recall things correctly.)

          1. Actually a great idea, but I doubt any big console mfg would license it. Those consoles would be bought to only “play” that “game”, thus depriving the big mfgs of licensing costs from the typical consumer’s fairly large game collection.

        1. It’s worth noting that there were many similarities between the Xbox 360 Xenon processor and the Cell processor the PS3 used. I may be wrong but I think the Cell had an SPE and 7 PPE, and the Xenon had 3 modified PPE?

          It really was a shame Sony dropped Other OS, but I think their reasoning was serious uses of the PS3 for it’s Cell CPU wouldn’t update anyways (I think it was dropped in 3.17+).

          (P.S. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone incorrectly use ‘were’ instead of ‘was’ like that.)

          1. I’m actually appalled at the elitist attitude over words, when you clearly understood what was said, even if tense was mixed up slightly. What if I were to go to your mom, and tell her “Until now, I don’t think I’ve ever READ where someone tries to make someone else feel small and stupid for a grammatical mistake on a hacker site”. Of course that may be disingenuous, but what if it weren’t? Maybe you should try to get a law passed where people are only allowed to speak your language, and only if it’s perfect. Were that the case, you may be justified in your arrogance and exlusivity.

          2. A little confused over “…serious uses of the PS3 for *its* (if we’re being pedantic) Cell CPU wouldn’t update anyways…”. Are you saying that the “serious uses…wouldn’t update”? Or is it the PS3 that “wouldn’t update”? Maybe you mean the “Cell CPU wouldn’t update”? For someone who has their tense firmly in hand, waving “correct tense” around like a flag, your overall thoughts would be considered remarkably unclear, were they to be compared to those of Mr. Wikström.

          3. To avoid seeming disingenuous myself, I notice that you likely meant “…serious *users*…wouldn’t update…”, which makes much more sense. Maybe work on your own communication skills before grading anyone else’s papers.

          4. J. Hoffman.
            Going a bit overboard yourself.

            Though, to be fair, the sentence:
            “It were a having a rather good 3.2 GHz seven core CPU (Actually 8 core, but one were for yield optimization.)”
            Is also incorrect if “were” was replaced with “was”, since there is an extra “a”, though, we can also complain about the sentence lacking a punctuation at the end (Punctuations inside of a parentheses isn’t actually part of the sentence that the text within the parentheses comments on.).

            But if the “a” were removed, forming the sentence:
            “It were having a rather good 3.2 GHz…” then it is grammatically correct, as long as it gets its punctuation mark at the end. Obviously, the English language is as pedantic as a C++ compiler…

            So to be fair Alex Rossie were pointing at the wrong thing.

          5. Wikstrom: I tried to defend you, but you’re wrong. Look up “subjunctive mood”- there are rules for language. Not that it should matter, as your mistakes did nothing to obfuscate your meaning. I just thought to encourage Rossi and others to look past the mistakes and listen to what was being communicated. Which Rossi kind of did already, so you’re right Wikstrom: I probably did go a little overboard defending you. Rossi’s statements weren’t that offensive, I just have a habit of standing up against elitism, especially in the intellectual community. Language is highly subjective, but the rules are there for a reason. Now you know.

          6. What a surreal conversation to come back to!

            @J. Hoffmann

            No offense meant, genuinely found the error bizarre!

            @Alexander Wikström

            I really hope you’re not trolling! But in case you’re not, the gramatically correct version of that sentence is:

            “It __had__ a rather good 3.2 GHz seven core CPU (Actually 8 core, but one __was__ used for yield optimization.)”

            Emphasis added to corrections. A good rule of thumb is it’s ‘idiomatic’ (but not ‘correct’) to use ‘was’ anywhere you can use ‘were’.

            If I were (this is the subjunctive mood J. Hoffmann speaks of) complaining that you did that, then I would conceed to J. Hoffmann that it is eliteism.

            But the converse, using ‘were’ where one ought to use ‘was’ is bizarre. So bizarre that 2 days later I’m still thinking about it!

      2. They aren’t selling below cost as Dumping is illegal.

        >Dumping, in economics, is a kind of injuring pricing, especially in the context of international trade. It occurs when manufacturers export a product to another country at a price below the normal price with an injuring effect.

        1. Did you read what you quoted?

          Dumping is a means of a foreign entity driving a native entity out of business by selling their product way below cost in the foreign nation.

          For instance, GM selling cars in China for $1,000. To bankrupt automakers there (this would never happen)

          Sony is selling at a loss, but the intention and effect isn’t to drive Microsoft or Nintendo out of business. So your application of dumping isn’t relevant.

  3. I am a bit curious to if the liquid metal on the CPU makes the PS5 forbidden on air travel.
    Considering the rather world wide ban on mercury on air planes due to its rather interesting effects when in contact with aluminium. (Airplanes are made of a surprising amount of aluminium.)

        1. Aluminum is commonly used as a good but cheaper version of a heat sink material compared to copper for this mass produced application. If it reacted to this gimmicky liquid thermal paste, I would be very, very surprised.

      1. I would personally be exceptionally surprised if it contained mercury.

        But a lot of liquid metals tends to be rather “reactive” when it comes to dissolving other metals, or just being corrosive in general.

        A lot of liquid metal cooling “pastes” are known to weaken the strength of typical solder compounds. (People doing shunt mods on graphics cards for an example at times find their shunts falling off…. Instead of using a 40 awg wire instead….)

        And a lot of gallium compounds are also not casually transported with air freight as is.

        So it wouldn’t surprise me if the thermal compound use have some air transport restrictions.

        Mercury is though a material that has a particularly nasty reaction with aluminium.

        Legislators and enforcers might not care about the difference between that, and the thermal compound, or just have mistakes due to confusion and decide to air on the cautious side of things.

        1. IATA says you can ship up 20kg of gallium in a single package, so long as it is in a plastic inner packaging and properly declared. Mercury is up to 35kg in glass or plastic inner packaging.

          I think the air-travelling community will be just fine with a few PlayStations knocking around.

  4. Son^Hy^Hrry, can do what they please but they made my no buy list since the first of April 2010, when they removed the OtherOS from their PS3. Buy more now, get less later on, no thanks. I should have learned from the Sony rootkits.

  5. “After years of adversarial treatment from the tech giants, we’d almost forgotten that the customer is supposed to be king.”

    Remember you’re dealing with the Japanese as well. They have a phrase “okyakusama wa kamisama”. Figuratively, it’s equivalent to “The customer is always right.” Litterally, it translates to “The customer is a god”.

  6. I am really curious why they would integrate the SSD onto the mainboard itself and drastically increase the BOM cost and potential for issues rather than just putting it on a proprietary connector.
    It would seem it was fairly trivial for sony to make their own ssd interface and they already own the custom controller and software so they could just have it as an internal part and not user upgradeable, but still be replaceable.

    Seeing it all integrated and knowing quite well how flash degrades, I might just wait until rev 2.0 to see what they do to cost-optimize it rather than jumping on for the launch. :/
    Here’s hoping that with improvements to NVME and PCIE 4.0 they will play around with the hardware a bit and remove that embedded inevitable failure.

    1. If anything, integrating the SSD on the mainboard reduces the overall BOM cost of the system. Even if Sony made their own SSD to plug in, it would need more connectors and packaging than the integrated version.

      1. Everyone forgets the royalties you have to pay when you use a connector. This is why OPEN SOURCE is MUCH BETTER for both companies and consumers.

        eg: Foxconn owns the rights to the sata connector… and we all hate Foxconn, so screw em.

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