The PlayStation 5 Has A Secret Weapon – Its SSD

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Sony’s PlayStation 5 is certainly expected to be faster than previous generations, but how fast you ask? Well Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeny called it ‘far ahead’ of high-end PC’s. This is because of the PlayStation 5’s secret weapon: the Solid State Drive (SSD).

Sweeny’s comments came at the unveiling of the company’s next-gen game engine – Unreal Engine 5 (UE5). Showing off the power of the engine, Epic ran a tech demo on Sony’s newest PlayStation in real-time. Sweeny said the lightning-fast performance is all down to Sony’s system storage advancements. The new SSD system was unveiled by Sony hardware architect Mark Cerny earlier this year.

Custom Designed SSD

The advancements are a result of a new custom-designed PCle 4.0 SSD. The PS5 SSD has a bandwidth of up to 5GB/second (uncompressed data), a massive leap from the 100MB/s on the current PS4. If you want to get into the really geeky stuff, the PS5 SSD has a 12-channel memory controller, 825GB capacity and raw speeds of up to 9GB/s for compressed data. Tweaktown reports that “there’s also a specific I/O based decompression block to massively reduce CPU overhead from decompression. The PS5 also uses a new Kraken-based decompression system that allows devs to cram 10% more data into compressed blocks.

To achieve this, Sweeny explained that Sony “puts a vast amount of flash memory very, very close to the processor.” This allows the PS5 to store large amounts of data as “video memory in its native format”. To cut it short – the PS5 is better at processing high-resolution renders system-wide.

Ps5 Ssd Measurements
Source Sony

[The PS5] has an immense amount of GPU power, but also multi-order bandwidth increase in storage management,” Sweeny said. This is where Sony’s innovation stands out. Microsoft also created a custom SSD for the new generation Xbox. But the real difference is in the fact that Sony managed to create an SSD and vastly improve the way it interacts with the overall PS5 data management system. Think of it like iOS – it is so smooth because it is designed exclusively for the iPhone and hardware. Other reasons the PS5 will be so fast are software optimisation and the innate benefits of shifting to NAND flash storage. 

“We’ve been working super close with Sony for quite a long time on storage. The storage architecture on the PS5 is far ahead of anything you can buy on the PC for any amount of money right now. It’s going to help drive future PCs.”

Instantaneous Open World Gaming

The result of this leap is a new gaming experience – one where instantaneous open-world gaming is more possible than ever before. Since the PS5 can blast data at nearly 5GB/s, on the front end it translates to ultra-fast loading times and seamless gameplay. 

On its demo, called “Lumen in the Land of Nanite”, Epic also showed off its two new tools: Lumens, a dynamic global illumination tool, and Nanite, a virtualized geometry that lets artists import film-quality art and assets into Unreal Engine. This is all part of Epic Games’ goal to help make gaming a more immersive, instantaneous experience. 

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Unreal Engine 5
A still from Lumen in the Land of Nanite. Source: Unreal Engine, Epic Games

CTO Kim Libreri told IGN that the goal with Unreal Engine 5 is to “make game worlds as immersive and realistic as modern movies.” With UE5, Epic hopes to achieve that by bringing dynamic environments into the gameplay, allowing environmental changes to happen in real-time. Powered by the PS5, this is actually possible. 

Sweeny also promised that the features would make their way to all next-generation consoles, including the Xbox. Sweeny believes that Sony and Microsoft’s upgrades will push PC makers to really invest in developing custom components and game development. While consoles have always lagged behind PC gaming traditionally, it looks like a switch in fortunes, at least for now.

Sony has remained quite tight-lipped about the PS5, with no details on what it looks like or how much it costs. The company was scheduled to host a virtual event on June 4, which has reportedly been cancelled. At the Sony corporate strategy meeting on May 19, CEO and President Kenichiro Yoshida hinted to PlayStation fans that they will not have to wait much longer to see some of the games that are being developed for the PlayStation 5. As for the PS5 itself, the wait continues.

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