Epic CEO and founder Tim Sweeney revealed that the company has worked with Sony over the last three or four years to make its new Nanite technology on the Unreal Engine 5 possible in an interview in Edge's latest issue (opens in new tab).
In the interview, which is in E347 (opens in new tab), Sweeney says that discussions between Epic and Sony started several years ago: "It was three or four years ago at least when we started to talk with Mark Cerny about possibilities for the next generation." As Edge goes on to detail, the conversations between Epic and Sony centred around the growing realisation that storage architecture in game hardware was limiting what developers could do when it comes to making games.
A stand out feature included in the PS5 specs (opens in new tab) is the console's new storage system. With its tailor-made SSD, the PS5 (opens in new tab) is set to process game data 100 times faster than a PS4 (opens in new tab), and will speed up PS5 loading times (opens in new tab) for the next-generation of game worlds. Sweeney says the collaboration with Sony has been longer-running than with Microsoft, and the team at Epic were able to get very early access to Sony's next-gen hardware, which influenced the decision to debut the Unreal Engine 5 tech demo (opens in new tab) on the PS5.
"Sony really did a fantastic job of implementing a new platform around that realisation that storage could be revolutionised,” Sweeney says. “PlayStation 5 is built not only on a huge body of flash memory, but also a very high bandwidth and low latency framework for accessing it, and for getting it to wherever you need for any type of work.” Sweeney also described how the PS5 can render a texture "highly efficiently, fetching it from the high-speed SSD decompressed, into video memory in the exact place it’s needed."
During a Summer Game Fest stream last month (opens in new tab), Sweeney said that the PS5's storage system is "absolutely world-class", adding that, "I think it's going to enable the types of immersion that we could only have dreamed of in the past. The world of loading screens is over. The days of pop-in, geometry pop-in as you're going through game environments, are ended"
Not long after the Unreal Engine 5 tech demo on the PS5, Epic detailed the purpose of Nanite. The new technology enables artists "to create as much geometric detail as the eye can see." In practise, this means that Nanite's virtualized geometry allows film-quality source art made up of hundreds of millions or billions of polygons to be imported directly into the Unreal Engine, which can then be streamed and scaled in real time.
You can read more about Epic's plans for the next-generation, the future of the Unreal Engine 5 and much more by picking up a copy of the latest issue of Edge. Or, to ensure that you never miss an issue, why not subscribe to Edge here (opens in new tab) or down below.