The tailor-made SSD in the PS5 represents the best storage technology across all platforms according to Epic CEO and founder Tim Sweeney.
Sweeney discussed the power and implications of the PS5 on today's Summer Game Fest stream following the reveal of that PS5 Unreal Engine 5 demo. "The hardware that Sony is launching is absolutely phenomenal," he says. "Not only an unprecedented amount of graphics power, but also a completely new storage architecture that blows past architectures out of the water and is far ahead of even the state-of-the-art, highest-end PCs you can buy."
Later comments from Sweeney echoed points from lead PS5 architect Mark Cerny, who overviewed the PS5's capabilities in a developer-minded presentation earlier this year.
"Sony's storage system is absolutely world class," Sweeney says. "Not only the best-in-class on console, but also the best on any platform. Better than high-end PCs. 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."
Nick Warden, vice president of engineering at Epic, also touched on the capabilities of PS5 and what it means for in-game visuals. "There are tens of billions of triangles in that scene," he says, referring to a room of statues in the aforementioned Unreal Engine 5 demo, "and we simply couldn't have them all in memory at once. So what we ended up needing to do is streaming in triangles as the camera is moving throughout the environment. The IO capabilities of PlayStation 5 are one of the key hardware features that enable us to achieve that level of realism."
"One of the key tenets of every new generation transition is new hardware capabilities with an order of magnitude of improvement over previous generations enabling entirely new types of games to develop," Sweeney adds. "The battle royale genre didn't even take off until the current generation where you finally had enough computing and graphics power to enable 100-player games with high-fidelity encounters. This new generation of technology that we're building with Unreal Engine 5, and that Sony is empowering with PlayStation 5, will enable entirely new types of game experiences that we can't even anticipate yet."
Sweeney's comments on the PS5 SSD are especially interesting given Sony's plans to support storage expansion through external M2 SSDs. Cerny stressed that this will only work with SSDs that are "at least as fast as ours," and was quick to note that those SSDs aren't even commercially available yet. The PS5 uses a PCIe 4.0 SSD that reaches speeds of 5.5GB/s, whereas most M2 SSDS on the market use PCIe 3.0 and run around 3 or 4GB/s. Sony expects PS5-compatible SSDs to be released in the next year, and will release a list of compatible drives within the same time frame.
Sony is adamant that SSD technology will be key to the next generation of consoles.