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August 12, 2020
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PlayStation's switch to a SSD for the PS5 aims to 'give the game designer freedom'

March 18, 2020 | By Alissa McAloon

March 18, 2020 | By Alissa McAloon
More: Console/PC, Design, Video

Going into the next generation of PlayStation, PlayStation 5 lead architect Mark Cerny says that the plan this time around is to build a console with game developers in mind first and foremost.

The upcoming console itself, Cerny explains in today’s Road to PS5 presentation, is built with three pillars in mind: listening to developers, balancing evolution & revolution, and finding new dreams.

Cerny says that the needs of developers is at the core of the team’s plans for the PlayStation 5, which is why the console opts to include what he says is the feature most requested by game developers: a solid state hard drive.

“To me, the SSD really is the key to the next generation," says Cerny. "It’s a game changer. And it was the number one ask from developers for the PlayStation 5. As in ‘we know its probably impossible but can you put an SSD in it?’”

Cerny says that the sort of hard drives featured in past game console generations meant that developers were having to spend large chunks of time designing around slow load speeds

For the PlayStation 5’s SSD, PlayStation is targeting 5 GB per second load times to allow games to boot in only seconds, and eliminate load screens all together.

“As game creators we go from trying to distract the player from how long fast travel is taking like those Spider-Man subway rides, to being so blindingly fast that might even have to slow that transition down.”

Cerny says that the ultimate benefit of swapping to a SSD is that it gives game designers new levels of freedom. Designers won’t have to include excessively long hallways, twists and turns in city, or lengthy elevator rides to dump unneeded assets and load the next parts of a level.

“What if the SSD is so fast that as the player is turning around it’s possible to load textures for everything textures for everything behind the player in that split second? If you figure that it takes half a second to turn that’s 4 GB of compressed data you can load. That sounds about right for next gen.”

In the rest of his prerecorded talk, Cerny talks about other elements of how an SSD improves life for both developers and players, and offers looks at advancements from generation-to-generation, and new features like the PlayStation 5’s custom engine for 3D audio.

“A lot of what we put into a console derives directly from the needs and aspirations of the game creators, says Cerny. “We definitely do have some ideas of our own, but at the core of our philosophy for designing consoles is that game players are here for the fantastic games. Which is to say that game creators matter. Anything we can do to make life easier for the game creators or help them realize their dreams we will do.”

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