Alongside the unveiling of the PS5 CPU and GPU last week, was the reveal that Sony’s next-generation console would be leveraging a special kind of boost mode. What does PS5’s boost mode actually mean for games though? Well, we’re glad you asked!
PS5 Boost Mode Explained
Before we get into the nitty gritty of what boost does, it’s important to remember that a key aspect of the PS5’s next-generation architecture is to permit variable frequencies on both the CPU and GPU.
Boost mode allows all PS5 consoles to perform at the identical performance levels irrespective of whatever the ambient temperature might be. So if your house is absolutely roasting and everyone is sweating buckets, the PS5 will perform just the same if everyone is wrapped up like Eskimos and the temperature has plunged deep into the minus territories.
Enabled by an intelligent internal monitor which interprets the workloads of the both the CPU and GPU and then adjusts accordingly, the PS5’s boost technology has a distinctly positive effect on PS4 and PS5 games too.
How PS5 Boost Mode Benefits You & How It Works With AMD’s SmartShift Technology
For Sony then, this will mean that PS5 will be to reach GPU speeds that are a great deal higher than expected. Through this boost technology, the PS5 is capable of exceeding any existing AMD components in PC market and, more importantly, Sony will be able to squeeze much more performance from the 36 RDNA 2 compute units that PS5 boasts than Microsoft will be able to get from the 52 compute units in Xbox Series X.
As Mark Cerny puts it, higher speeds are eminently desirable stating that “at 33 per cent higher frequency, rasterisation goes 33 per cent faster, processing the command buffer goes that much faster, the L1 and L2 caches have that much higher bandwidth, and so on,”. Simply put it’s much easier to fully optimize and use 36 compute units in parallel than it is to properly optimize 52 compute units in the same way.
Equally, AMD’s SmartShift technology which the PS5 also uses feeds into this idea of making more efficient system by allowing the CPU to funnel unused power to the GPU to improve performance yet further still.
This all shows that once again, there will be much more to the next-generation tech battle than just figures on paper.
PS5 Boost Mode & How It Affects Backwards Compatibility
While PS5 backwards compatibility has been confirmed to support nearly every PS4 title on the market when the machine launches during holiday 2020, there are issues surrounding how the PS5 will make enhancements to these games, thanks in no small part to how this new boost mode functionality works.
Long story short – by using ‘boost’ the PS5 strays away from the mode0 and mode1 emulation presets that allow it to perfectly mimic the PS4 and PS4 Pro specifications (hence the near 99% compatibility with PS4 titles on day one), forcing the console to run PS4 titles at speeds far faster than they were ever intended to.
Because of this, Sony engineers are having to work on a case-by-case basis to make select PS4 titles work with PS5’s boost spec, deciding to do this by focusing on the top 100 PS4 titles as decided by total playtime. This means while you can probably expect lots of first-party exclusives such as Days Gone, God of War and Gran Turismo Sport to be supported alongside the likes of Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption 2, many superb (but less played) titles will unfortunately not benefit from the enhanced treatment – at least not right away.
For those PS4 titles that do benefit from PS5 boost however, gamers can expect improvements to both framerate and resolution resulting in games that both look and play better.