A new patent, filed by Sony with PS5 lead designer Mark Cerny as one of its inventors, might give an indication of improvements coming to the console’s backwards compatibility.
The new patent, filed last year but approved this month, makes specific mention of backward compatibility, with the patent detailing a solution that allows current console hardware to mimic older ones to accurately run games. Processing clock speeds can often make games designed for slower hardware does not function at all, so being able to dynamically change this for the application in question seems useful.
This patent isn’t detailing an entirely new solution, however, with Sony and Cerny having filed similar patents with similar use cases as in 2017 (as indicated by the related patents section in the filing). This patent is, however, the first to make specific mention of alternative frequencies for applications, with some lines in the filing making the differentiation between newer, more powerful hardware and slower revisions.
It’s unclear, given the language used in the filing, whether this is meant to reference current backwards compatibility that exists between the PS4 and PS5, or something new entirely. Referencing slower hardware could mean any number of things, perhaps even the potential for Sony to pursue a less-powerful version of the PS5 in the wake of Microsoft’s success with the Xbox Series S.
It could also be an extension of existing backwards compatibility work that will be even more useful now that Sony is planning to continue production of the PS4 through 2022, given the company’s struggles to fulfill demand for the PS5. Having a new iteration of backwards compatibility that makes support easier and better will certainly be appreciated by players still stuck on older hardware.
Backwards compatibility is one facet of the current console cycle that Sony is sorely behind on, with Microsoft offering support all the way back to games originally released on the first Xbox. But comparison, the PS5 only supports backwards compatibility with PS4 games, with the option of anything further back not confirmed by Sony.