This is my take on the final specs and consoles put out by both Sony with the PS5 and Microsoft with the Series X.
It seems pretty clear now that Sony started designing the PS5 before MS started with the Series X. Makes sense, as Sony finished the PS4 Pro a year before Microsoft finished the One X. This is also shown in the PS5 die shots, where the PS5 is using more RDNA 1 parts on their GPU than the Series X does. Microsoft also tied in alot of their Series X development alongside AMD with their AMD cards, as they were working through Direct 12 Ultimate adoption and were kinda on AMDs timeline as well. This included specific GPU alterations to accommodate Mesh Shaders, ML and VRS, shown by MS using RDNA 2 ROPs, which facilitated VRS, while Sony used RDNA 1 ROPs, further evidencing the fact that the PS5 doesn’t have VRS abilities in its GPU. So alot of MS work with XSX was around Direct X 12 Ultimate and its new extensions
Sony on the otherhand worked around a solution for backwards compatibility and to retain a ease of development environment for the PS5. Mark Cerny pushed this point in his Road to PS5 talk where he said the time to triangle on the PS5 was less than one month, making it the easiest to program console Sony has made. This resulted in a 36cu GPU to keep backwards compatibility.
I think that Sony got caught out spec wise and raised their GPU clocks to get closer to the XSX. This to me is evidenced by the use of variable clocks on the PS5. There is no way Sony went into the initial planning of the PS5 and thought variable clocks were an option. It was a reactionary move. Its also a flawed idea. As the generation goes on, the games are going to become more complex and demanding. Its precisely when demanding games are played on the PS5 that the clocks on the GPU will go below the 2.23ghz, exactly when you need it the most. In essence, the PS5 will never be able to achieve its 10.3tflops. The more the demanding a game is, the lower the tflops the PS5 will be capable of.
At this stage of the generation no game is pushing the consoles to any real degree, and the PS5 GPU will happily sit at 2.23ghz. The advantage for Sony is that it has allowed devs to get great results quickly on the console, and perform better than the XSX in a number of them. Things have gone exactly to plan for Sony, and I guess from that side of things its a job well done.
With regards to the GPU, Sony has only really talked about their Geometry Engine with its primitive shaders, along with cache scrubbers. This is really the only secret sauce Sony brought to their GPU. The Geometry Engine isn’t a Sony only invention, as it is an AMD function, along with primitive shaders, and was introduced in GCN cards, but not activated. There has been no real performance improvement demonstrated by the use of cache scrubbers. I assume if it was in anyway a performance improver, Sony would have demonstrated this.
This is where the Microsoft innovations and additions to the XSX GPU are going to allow it to have longer legs as the generation goes ahead. Unlike Cache scrubbers, Mesh Shaders, VRS, SFS and Machine Learning are all demonstrated to give performance improvements. VRS tier 2 alone has shown up to 14% increase to performance. Mesh shaders are yet to be used in any game, and the benchmarks have shown massive performance gains when using it. Real world numbers arnt yet shown, but it is the real deal. Mesh shaders are the next generation over the primitive shaders used on the PS5.
Sampler Feedback Streaming is a known improver to system performance and like Mesh Shaders, no game currently uses it, and like VRS and Mesh Shaders, the PS5 doesn’t have SFS or any equivalent.
That leaves us with Machine Learning, which we know the XSX has through the Direct ML, and the additions to the hardware MS did to allow 4 and 8 bit used in ML, while the PS5 doesn’t have this same ability in its GPU.
These are the reasons I believe the XSX is going to prove more powerful as the generation goes on. Microsoft really did an amazing job on this console, and I’m going to enjoy seeing what comes out of it.