In keeping with a core philosophy established during the development on the PlayStation 4, the PlayStation 5 is very much a console designed with developers in mind.
As lead architect Mark Cerny explained during his deep dive this week, he took this developer-friendly approach on the road. He visited game developers, picking their brains about what features they wanted to see in the PlayStation 5. Among the most requested was an SSD.
As Cerny detailed in great depth, Sony took this request to heart. The PlayStation 5’s proprietary SSD solution is nothing short of transformative with incredibly fast speeds of 5.5 GB/s, six priority levels, the Kraken decompression format, and a peripheral eco-system working to reduce bottlenecks.
As Cerny explained:
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 we might even have to slow that transition down.
Most of this happens behind the scenes. The PlayStation 5 hardware itself will take care of delivering all these features with little tinkering required from developers. Cerny said :
You just indicate what data you’d like to read from your original, uncompressed file, and where you’d like to put it, and the whole process of loading it happens invisibly to you and at very high speed.
For the average consumer, this means very little. The technicalities are beyond the understanding of most gamers and the average journalist alike, perfectly illustrated by the unproductive obsession with teraflops.
We’ll only really get a sense of how the PlayStation 5 stacks up to the Xbox Series X when we see games in action. When we see the same game running on both systems.
From there, we can get a tangible sense of performance, of how the game feels. The great decider of the next-generation contenders will be playing the games they are designed for, as it should be.
But for developers, Sony’s SSD is already looking spectacular. And not just in terms of lighting fast load times or creating more complex and immersive games worlds. The SSD has the potential to reduce one of the industry’s most controversial practices – crunch.
In theory, the PS5’s SSD means developers can worry a little less about level streaming and memory micro-management, which is a huge time sink late on in the dev cycle and the source of many bugs. This means it might actually help to reduce crunch!
Of course, this would only really apply to first-party exclusives. Developers launching games simultaneously on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and PC would have to work with the lowest common denominator in mind.
Yet any reduction in crunch is positive. Developers will surely welcome hardware that helps limit crunch with open arms.