Yesterday, Sony unveiled the PlayStation 5's full specs. Further, it also revealed new backwards compatibility details for the console. All of this came during a 52-minute presentation that provided an incredibly deep and complicated dive into the console's architecture. And beyond the aforementioned details, one of the biggest talking points during the presentation was the console's SSD. While the Xbox Series X is packing more raw power than the PS5, the PS5's SSD is far more impressive than the SSD in the Xbox Series X. And this is a big deal.
For those that missed the presentation, the PS5 is packing a custom 825GB M.2 SSD that will be capable of speeds of 5.5GB of input data per second. According to Sony's Mark Cerny, who hosted the presentation, the PS5's input-output speed will be 100 times faster. And this will be huge for game developers. Not only will it drastically increase load times, but it will change level design, especially for open-world games, which have been held back greatly by the current consoles.
“The primary reason for an ultra-fast SSD is that it gives the game designer freedom," said Cerny. "Or to put that differently, with a hard drive, the 20 seconds it takes to load a gigabyte can sabotage the game the developer is trying to create. Say we’re making an adventure game, and we have two rich environments where we each want enough textures and models to fill memory, which you can do as long as you have a long staircase or elevator ride or a windy corridor where you can ditch the old assets and then take 30 seconds or so to load the new assets.”
Modern game worlds aren't one cohesive world. They are a variety of smaller worlds patched together. And this has a negative impact on the design. Using Jak 2 as an example, Cerny illustrated how developers have been forced to hide loading screens in their games.
“The game is 20 years old, but not much has changed since then," said Cerny talking about Jak 2. "All those twisty passages are there for a reason. There’s a whole subset of level design dedicated to this world, but still, it’s a giant distraction for a team that just wants to make their game. What if the SSD is so fast that, as the player is turning around, it’s possible to load textures for everything behind the player in that split second? If you figure that it takes half a second to turn, that’s four gigabytes of compressed data you can load.”
As you can see, the PS5's advanced SSD is likely going to be a game changer, especially for certain genres, which explains why Sony focused on it so much during yesterday's presentation designed to be listened to by developers.
The PlayStation 5 is set to release sometime this holiday season. For more news, media, rumors, and leaks on the console, be sure to take a second and peruse all of our past and recent coverage of it by clicking right here.