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The PlayStation 5’s SSD jump is more impressive than you might think

Earlier this week, Sony surprisingly began discussing the PlayStation 5 and its hardware specs in detail. We know that the next-gen console will use a Ryzen processor and a Navi GPU from AMD but beyond that, the PS5 will make the jump from hard drives to SSDs. Quicker loading times are the obvious benefit here but it would seem that there are other gameplay-affecting benefits that aren't getting as much attention.

Nowadays, we are used to seeing massive open-world games clocking in at sizes upwards of 100GB or in some cases, even higher. It takes time for hard drives to pull in all of this data, resulting in long loading screens but also impacting the speed at which a player can move throughout the world.

In the Wired story talking about PS5 specs, Sony architect, Mark Cerny, demonstrated Spider-Man as an example of where an SSD can really help. Not only did the PS5's SSD increase fast-travel times from 15 seconds to less than one second, but the increase in drive speed also means that player movement can be increased.

In Spider-Man (and likely many other games) maximum player movement speed is limited by how quickly the PS4's HDD can pull in the textures and other data. On the PS5 devkit, Cerny removed these speed limits, allowing Spider-Man to web-zip through New York City at “fighter jet” speeds. All the while, the SSD was able to pull in the game data as quickly as needed.

This is something that could impact many other games too. Texture pop-in could theoretically be a thing of the past and racing games or flight simulators could reach another tier of realism.

Sony hasn't revealed the specs for its SSD yet but since the PS5 has I/O designed for high-speed SSDs, and a software stack designed to take advantage of it, the PS5 will be much faster than a PS4 Pro with an SSD thrown in. It is also worth noting that over the last few years, Sony has quietly worked its way into the SSD market, meaning it can design and produce its own drives in-house to reduce costs or hit certain performance/capacity goals. In other words, it has set itself up well for this next-gen jump.

KitGuru Says: The PS5 is very interesting already but rumour has it that Microsoft has a more powerful console up its sleeve. With all of that in mind, 2020 is shaping up to be an awesome year for new gaming hardware. Hopefully the launch software lineup does it justice. 

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