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Opinion: PS5 and Xbox Scarlett’s SSD Could Be The Most Troublesome Aspect Of Their Design

If the implementation of extended social sharing of in-game screenshots, videos and even the titles themselves by virtue of PS4 and Xbox One’s share functionality was the defining aspect of this current console generation, than it certainly looks like that the next-generation of console hardware will be defined by super-fast SSD storage that will speed up load times, access duration and generally make the leap from the UI into the game more seamless than ever before.

The murmurings regarding the PS5’s SSD solution have been extremely promising. From relatively outlandish claims that the hardware is capable of loading Insomniac GamesSpider-Man in 0.5 seconds, to the notion that the SSD operates so quickly at such a low-level within the hardware itself that it can be used in tandem with the PS5’s in-built RAM, it certainly seems like that the SSD solution for next-generation consoles will offer possibilities that exist far beyond that of mere storage.

PS5 SSD Access
Next-generation console SSD’s will bring down loading times dramatically. Under the current PS5 devkit, for example, Spider-Man’s levels load in half a second.

Indeed on the face of it, this is a nothing less than a paradigm shift in hardware, and one that is borne out by those aforementioned massive increases in load times and the wider use of SSD storage as extended RAM. However, it isn’t all sunny uplands, and the reason for this is that by employing such cutting-edge technology in their next-generation consoles, both Sony and Microsoft may have effectively boxed themselves into a corner when it comes to future expansion and augmentation.

Related Content – PS5 Vs Xbox Scarlett Specs Comparison – What We Know So Far

With both PS5 and Xbox Scarlett consoles touting Blu-ray drives capable of delivering up to 100GB of data (a figure which becomes increasingly trivial even now as the likes of Rockstar Games and Infinity Ward slowly creep towards that threshold with their games), and assuming that in a best case scenario these consoles come with 2TB of storage, then it doesn’t take a whole lot of math to realize that you’re going to run out of space pretty quickly indeed.

This becomes especially true if both console manufacturers stick to a 1TB SSD – which they might have to do anyway to keep costs down given the sheer array of cutting edge tech to be found elsewhere in the PS5 and Xbox Scarlett silicon.

PS5 SSD Access 1
The implications of PS5’s marrying of SSD storage to system architecture at a low level goes far beyond storage – it’ll theoretically allow for much larger worlds than ever before that load instantly. Load times as you go from one area to another will simply cease to be.

And here’s the thing, in regards to current-gen consoles, if you see your storage drying up you simply buy yourself a cheap external drive, plug the sucker in via USB and away you go. The problem however with PS5 and Xbox Scarlett is that the super intimate way in which the SSD interfaces with the rest of machine, such as the system RAM and other parts of the architecture will mean that you’ll never be able to buy an external drive which is fast enough to do the job – simply because the bandwidth that the USB standard can provide just isn’t on par with what you get from the internal components.

Sure, Sony’s improved PS5 UI that allows you to install games in selective modules will economize the space you use to an extent, but when you start figuring in the number of games installed at any one time, all the captures you’ll take, saved game files and a range of other space-sucking stuff that we haven’t even considered yet, it soon becomes clear that Sony’s idea of ‘Intelligent Delivery’ seems little more than a bubblegum solution at this point – concerns that tech blog Digital Foundry have even shared (so it’s not just me saying this stuff – Digital Foundry’s analysis begins at 14:00).

Of course, we’re still in early days yet. Both consoles will launch in just over 14 months and there are still plenty of gaps in the technical specifications for PS5 and Xbox Scarlett respectively. That said, it’s difficult to see how Sony and Microsoft can overcome this limitation – or maybe they don’t? Maybe, we’re entering a new era now where, despite games being much more numerous and their storage requirements much higher, we instead have to be much more careful with our storage in turn.

Either way, things are changing and it’s time to get ready. Roll on Holiday 2020.

  • Tucker

    I think what you may end seeing is that you will be forced to play games from the SSD. Let’s say you have 5-6 games on the SSD and a few dozen on the “spinning” hard drive. When you want to play the spinning HD games the system will prompt to tell you it is moving to the SSD and you may need to swap out another game for it. This could end up being just something that the user manages as well. If you want the faster speeds then keep your favorite most played games on the SSD. The other piece of the equation would be if a developer takes advantage of the readily available SSD and forces it to be played from that drive. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. But under any of these circumstances I will accept with a built in SSD.

  • IceOfSZRT

    What you may be missing is PlayStation’s opportunity to cash in on exclusive PlayStation accessories/hardware. The SSD in the PS5 is said to be a bespoke solution (think, XBox 360 HDD’s, aka PlayStation branded SSD’s), that is supposedly superior to SSD’s currently on the market in terms of function for gaming purposes. It’s the console and SSD working together in a unique way that make the PS5 as fast as it is w/ data transfer solutions. The connectors that insert to the PS5 and likely the shape of the SSD itself, are likely unique to the PS5 as well. So there may well be PlayStation branded external SSD’s and the like as well. This also has the opportunity for us to see PS SSD’s sold at a lower price than current SSD prices, since they’re PS5 exclusive hardware. However the opposite could also be true for the same exact reason.

    • Droidanomix

      Tell us more about your systems engineering experience at Sony.

      • IceOfSZRT

        I didn’t know I needed systems engineering experience to have &/or voice an opinion. I apologize if my knowledge on the matter based off of readily available information sourced via the internet has made you feel threatened or offended. I guess only the author of this article is entitled to an opinion. However, I wasn’t aware of his esteemed experience as a systems engineer at Sony. I think he’s clearly overqualified to be writing opinion pieces for a gaming site, don’t you?

  • J.j. Barrington

    If you don’t know much of anything else about these consoles, how can you even make that speculation intelligently?

  • YOUDIEMOFO

    Not like technology is going to step backwards in the idea of storage and throughput. Never going to back themselves into a corner over their decisions on storage throughput.. . WTF does that even mean?!?

  • mark

    I often uninstall games to install new games. It’s not really an issue as you can only really be playing 2-3 games consistently at any one time. You just re-download from your purchases if you want to revisit an old game.

    • Meaux Szyslack

      Very simple solution. I have an installed library of 15 games currently and only really play two. Not even going to count the amount I’ve bought and are just sitting the Purchased library. As I play, I delete when done. Seldom do I keep completed games lingering around unless I know i’m going to give another run through.

      • IceOfSZRT

        Some people have data caps in atrociously slow internet speeds. So unfortunately, your solution is not a solution for everyone.

  • Reginald Stanfield

    I love how people here are being optimistic about pricing for a proprietary Sony drive when we already have experience PS Vita Storage Prices. Let’s be clear, a system married SSD is bad for pricing. I’m not sure what they intend on doing but this is in-fact a problem. Especially for people like myself who have expanding libraries and like to keep games i’m likely to play stored on the HD.