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Forums - Gaming Discussion - Why the SSD is a big deal for PS5, Series X.

vivster said:
They promised us that with 8 core CPUs in consoles would come a better use of multi cores on PC. So I'm not holding my breath for the SSD revolution.

Sigh... the "ssd revolution" takes care of gpu memory usage and coherency. I don't think any developer cares about reloading code on demand.



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I was wrong thinking that the new consoles will have standard cheap M.2 SSDs.



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Azzanation said:
SSD drives are great however I cannot see it making that much difference when it comes to how games are designed. Developers will still go with there own game design choices. Linear style games wont see much difference because they are designed around scene by scene while openworld games can benefit but how much are devs willing to invest and design even bigger worlds? Is there a thing as too big? because sometimes for me, when I play openworld games, being too big can be a chore.

I welcome the faster load times on both consoles and honestly that's all id expect, if they do more with it great but I couldn't care if they do or not. They just need to continue to make great games.

Relevant thing to add here: 

Someone wrote a good post up about this 

https://www.reddit.com/r/PS5/comments/fn1yc0/practical_examples_of_how_lack_of_ssd_impacted/

"For those who might not understand how big of a deal an SSD and improved IO will be across the board for next gen consoles, I wanted to go over a few well known first party / exclusive PS4 titles and give examples of some of the workarounds devs have had to implement up till now to counteract slow load times.

My main example is Uncharted 4, although a lot of this will apply to Last of Us as well, as Naughty Dog tends to use similar tricks across all of their games. Now, if you’ve played the Uncharted 4 campaign from start to finish, you may or may not have noticed that you won’t encounter a single loading screen in the game (unless you die). This in itself is really impressive, and I don’t want to take away from that. But what I wanted to point out is that the “loading screens” are still there; they are just masked by very clever cutscene and game design.

You know those “give me a boost” segments in every Uncharted game, or when you approach a door and have to hammer Triangle several times to break through, or when there’s a narrow crawl space you have to enter to progress, or a large ledge you have to fall down that you can’t get back up afterwards? Almost all of these types of game design elements exist purely to either slow the player down before entering a new area, or to limit the player’s field of view for a set amount of time, or to provide a way for the devs to guarantee that you won’t be going back to a previous area so that they can know it’s safe to “de-load” a portion of the game.

All of these techniques exist to mask loading that’s actually going on in the background. While you’re getting that “boost” from your partner and the camera is fixed in place, the game is unloading and loading new assets for the next area you’re about to enter. As you’re mashing Triangle to break through that door, or pick up that heavy column that fell on the floor and is blocking your path, the game is silently loading in the bits of the level after that door, after that column. Essentially, because of how slowly current gen games can fetch new data from disk, the developer is “forced” to implement these gameplay bottlenecks that force the player to slow down or limit their perspective for multiple seconds, to provide a seamless transition between game areas.

Another trick developers have been using to avoid loading screens this gen has been creating pre-rendered versions of certain key cutscenes. To bring up Uncharted 4 again, while every Uncharted 4 cutscene is rendered in-engine and probably 95% of them are rendered real time, there are a handful of cutscenes in the game that are actually pre-rendered. You can almost always guess where these are when the game very rapidly takes you from a cutscene in one unique location to a cutscene in another unique location.

Devs will use pre-rendered cutscenes in this way because they can be streamed from disk in real time, unlike the real time render equivalent, which would require the game needing enough time to load in all of the assets and animations needed for the scene before playing it. Meanwhile as that prerendered scene is playing, the game is also loading the real assets in the background, and often there is a transition you may not even notice back to real time cutscenes once everything has finished loading. Using tricks like this masks load times, but it also requires devs storing high quality cutscenes on the disk, which even at a few seconds long take up a huge amount of game space, along with many other known limitations of using pre-rendered cutscenes.

Almost all of these elements exist in games like God of War as well. Lifting heavy columns to progress, series of gates that you have to open and close in sequence to get through, a big door that Atreus has to read the Rune for to open, narrow passageways before area changes (think the section Kratos is searching for Atreus and squeezing through a tight space before finding Atreus with the Witch in the Witch’s Woods), that section of the final boss fight where Kratos and Atreus are enclosed in the giant’s hand and transported for like 30 seconds, elevator rides, the list goes on and on."



DonFerrari said:
the-pi-guy said:

Actually yes!  

Should be able to make ridiculously fast Sonic games to boot.

We could get nauseating fast ludicrously pretty Sonic games both 2D and 3D.

"PlayStation 5 has BLAST PROCESSING. Xbox Series X...doesn't."



SanAndreasX said:
DonFerrari said:

We could get nauseating fast ludicrously pretty Sonic games both 2D and 3D.

"PlayStation 5 has BLAST PROCESSING. Xbox Series X...doesn't."

Both systems have very fast SSDs.  



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Why is an SSD a big deal with the next consoles? It's been around for an eternity and is not particularly expensive. Franckly it should've been defacto in the PS4/X1



DonFerrari said:
One thing about the "PC have SSD for over a decade" that I want to ask, can it load most current gen games in 1 or 2 seconds?

I would be very surprised if those SSD's are even functioning.
I had the OCZ Vertex 2 64GB back around in 2010 when it was all the rage, it's no longer with me. R.I.P.

It did manage to load the "games of the day" at 1-2 seconds though, but games in 2010 weren't 8th or 9th gen sized games, they were 7th gen sized.

I remember the day I got that drive, I probably spent a good half an hour just opening and closing everything on the system and being amazed at the sheer responsiveness, same thing happened when I tried a 120hz display for the first time and being in awe at how silky smooth everything was.

DonFerrari said:

Not that.

Because from what I see SSD can cut the loading by 60-80% compared to HDD. But that would make a 1min game taking 10s to load, so PS5 solution would still be a lot faster.

It also depends on the type of data being loaded... If a game has a ton of random reads to perform, then it's not going to have data rates plummet like a mechanical disk trying to spin a disk and find that data... Back then you might have been lucky to get 5MB/s on a mechanical disk, but an SSD was a good 80MB/s in those scenarios.

Without a doubt the Playstation 5 has a faster single SSD than the SSD's of 2009-2010 when the technology was starting to gain traction.

But if you wanted more performance than the PS5's SSD, that was still possible with a Ram Drive... And you pretty much didn't have a load time.

sales2099 said:
Ok so it handles texture pop in, or in this case near eliminates it. On top of loading times. Good to know, but most gamers will be comparing resolution and FPS like always.

Objects still get loaded in via streaming, it's not being stored in RAM, it's just allot faster now... But then again, assets are also allot higher quality and demand allot more storage now.

Pop-in could still exist... But I would wait for the games themselves.

CuCabeludo said:
The only PC game right now that is taking advantage of the SSD somewhat similar to next gen consoles is Star Citizen.

Games like the Witcher 3 and Skyrim exhibit significant advantages by having an SSD, there is significantly less "hitching" when new "cells" are being loaded into DRAM... Plus those games rely heavily on streaming as well.

Something like PUBG also showed advantages on an SSD, with a mechanical drive it would drop you into the action before it has textured buildings and other assets.

drkohler said:

No, I've explained it in two other threads.

The reason why you only see marginal impreovement is the inability of pcs/current consoles to do what the PS5 hardware can do "behind the controller". No pc in the world can achieve this, no matter how fast the ssd is, because the hardware simply isn't there. Detours are required, particularly in pc who simply can't directly stream into gpu memory space. At uncompressed 8-9GBytes/s, loading an entire game/continuing a saved game should take less than 2 seconds on the PS5.

Do what exactly? Pray tell on this secret sauce that no one in the history of computing has done before.

8-9GB/s uncompressed? Evidence is needed for that claim.

The PC isn't always streaming everything from a disk drive to the GPU either, the PC has a memory hierarchy, why would that be ignored?

Hiku said:

PC could have done this with SSD's (to a lower degree) looong ago. But they didn't. And still generally don't. (Star Citizen being the first that does iirc.)
It's not because even the older SSD's weren't fast enough to improve level design and the fidelity of the game. It's because not every PC (or console if they were multiplatform games) could be expected to have an SSD.

If developers make use of an SSD this way, it completely changes how they design many aspects of the game. This is not somethign they can just 'scale' for HDD users. They'd essentially have to create two different games, increasing their workload tremendously. It's just not wroth it.

There are still massive benefits on the PC if you use an SSD though, especially in games that leverage streaming of assets... Like Unreal powered games... I.E. Bioshock would have lower quality textures and map in higher quality ones later.

A PC SSD greatly increased the rate of that transition.

Will an SSD change game design? Maybe.
We just need to look at what the Nintendo 64 did as that is our best example from history where super fast storage allowed for an efficient use of Ram... And games of that era were pretty expansive.

I highly doubt any PC comes with a mechanical drive as default storage these days, unless it's an office or netbook machine of course, even in those instances they are becoming a rarity.

Hiku said:


PS5 and XBO standardizing SSD for console gaming can change this. PS5 in an extreme manner. But even developing games around the lowest common denominator SSD would see a huge improvement. Though such games would then require an SSD of certain speed to be playable on PC.

To be fair... If we categorize an SSD by the fact it's a grouping of NAND flash behind a controller... Aka. "Solid State Drive."
Then the Wii, Wii U, Switch, DS, 3DS had "SSD's". - Did it revolutionize Nintendo's games?

That's the question I pose.

Granted, bandwidth of Nintendo's implementations left much to be desired.

Hiku said:

When comparing multiplatform games? Yes.
They won't be able to take full advantage of the fastest SSD in multi-platform games though, because the games have to work properly on other systems, and this isn't something you can generally scale down for a slower SSD. If you build a stage with a certain amount of objects becoming visible when you turn around on PS5 to the point where it pushes the limits of the SSD, then on another system they may have to build a wall there instead to block your view, etc. That's too much work if you have to do it constantly.

But what they can 'scale' is the resolution. They can have bigger sized textures load up in time on PS5's SSD.
The former Naughty Dog developer mentioned that.

What will mainly be interesting to see though are first party PS5 games trying to utilize this fully.

It is actually scalable. You just reduce the amount of data that needs to be loaded in... Reduce textures and model complexity and the number of objects for starters.

Hiku said:

Which is one reason why even with Xbox Serie's X's SSD, there will be advancements there.
Though Sony are making their SSD so fast and multitask capable (traditional SSD's have two true purposes, while theirs has 6) that it can even function as RAM, which is why this is so fascinating.

It's prioritizing of different types of data based on need, hence the differing levels, not making the data transactions faster.

Conversely... If you drop in a PC SSD into the PS5, it's not going to have 6 priority levels anyway... And because of such, will "fake" the priority levels which will come with an additional bandwidth overhead... Thus requiring an SSD that is faster than 5.5GB/s.

DonFerrari said:
Hiku said:

Right, that's what I meant by trickery.
It wouldn't be the same fidelity Midgar we're able to see up close.

Yep, those are a few. They even talked about how being able to fill the RAM in 2s would allow for faster turning around or having more show because you won't crash when you talk that 1s to turn around. I'm very interested in all the tricks they are going to use this gen to make even better showing than last gen.

Think of it as an extension to Ram... It's still super slow compared to Ram of course and doesn't replace the Ram... But not all data types are bandwidth intensive.
So if we load the Ram up with bandwidth hungry assets (like textures!) and then load up the SSD's virtual-space with things like Audio, Object models and so forth, we can get more bang for buck of our Ram.

It's a similar situation that the Nintendo 64 found itself in... The Carts had such an insane amount of bandwidth relative to the System Ram that developers would actually stream data directly from carts and treated it as a Read-Only portion of the RAM itself in some instances.

Hiku said:

One thing I'm a bit confused about.
What exactly is it that makes the PS5 SSD able to function as RAM so efficiently? It's not just the speed, I'm sure. Because Cerny said that other commercial SSD's will need to be faster than the PS5 SSD's 5.5 GB in order to work on PS5.

Is it the custom I/O unit?

<SNIP>

Or the flash controller giving the PS5's SSD 6 true priority levels instead of 2 like other SSDs?
He mentioned that the custom I/O unit would need to make up for the lack of true priority levels on industry SSD's, instead of that drive's flash controller.

Virtual memory has been around for a third of a century now. The SSD can "function as Ram" - But it's still extremely "Slow Ram"... You can do the same thing on a mechanical drive as well... And Microsoft did put that to use back on the Original Xbox back in 2001.

To put it into perspective the SSD offers about double the bandwidth of the Nintendo Wii and even has an edge over the Original Xbox...

However another thing we need to keep in mind is that SSD's also have much higher latencies than even RAM.

twintail said:

An analysis from NXGamer makes the hypothetical claim that with the SSD that Sony is using, they could move OS operations onto it and effectively give games like 15.5GB ram usage.

Thoughts?

Nah. The SSD is still allot slower than the System Ram and there are bandwidth and latency sensitive operations within an OS that needs it.

Hiku said:

I feel like it would be more valuable to have this SSD technology to render assets than say 4GB extra RAM.
But I guess for some games, more regular RAM may be better.

You mean directly render to the SSD? Because neither SSD's or RAM actually does any computational work outside of handling memory transactions.

vivster said:
They promised us that with 8 core CPUs in consoles would come a better use of multi cores on PC. So I'm not holding my breath for the SSD revolution.

To be fair... We can't get away with running everything on only a dual core anymore. :P

padib said:
Why is an SSD a big deal with the next consoles? It's been around for an eternity and is not particularly expensive. Franckly it should've been defacto in the PS4/X1

500GB-1TB SSD's were allot more expensive in 2013.

I would have rather the Playstation 4 and Xbox One actually include a 7200rpm mechanical disk rather than a crappy, slow 5400rpm drive that offers 40-50MB/s of sustained sequential reads... Bonus is that pretty much every USB 3.0 external hard drive was an upgrade.






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the-pi-guy said:
Azzanation said:
SSD drives are great however I cannot see it making that much difference when it comes to how games are designed. Developers will still go with there own game design choices. Linear style games wont see much difference because they are designed around scene by scene while openworld games can benefit but how much are devs willing to invest and design even bigger worlds? Is there a thing as too big? because sometimes for me, when I play openworld games, being too big can be a chore.

I welcome the faster load times on both consoles and honestly that's all id expect, if they do more with it great but I couldn't care if they do or not. They just need to continue to make great games.

Relevant thing to add here: 

Someone wrote a good post up about this 

https://www.reddit.com/r/PS5/comments/fn1yc0/practical_examples_of_how_lack_of_ssd_impacted/

Now obviously this is a tendency devs worldwide employ, but nonetheless it is going to be interesting to see what studios like Naughty Dog actually do with PS5.

I feel like Naughty Dog especially have done a great job at kind of making these roadblocks integrated into the overall narrative experience, so what is their solution to maintaining the narrative presence without needing these sections for loading?

I imagine that, realistically, these segments will not disappear entire. That said, it does offer an opportunity for devs to include a non-story mode for players who just want to play without any narrative elements. That alone would be great imho.

Thinking about the tech being employed, I am actually quite hyped to see these PS5 titles. Perhaps more so than I was for PS3 or PS4. 



Pemalite said:

padib said:
Why is an SSD a big deal with the next consoles? It's been around for an eternity and is not particularly expensive. Franckly it should've been defacto in the PS4/X1

500GB-1TB SSD's were allot more expensive in 2013.

I would have rather the Playstation 4 and Xbox One actually include a 7200rpm mechanical disk rather than a crappy, slow 5400rpm drive that offers 40-50MB/s of sustained sequential reads... Bonus is that pretty much every USB 3.0 external hard drive was an upgrade.

SSDs back then were approx 70c per gig, rapidly declining in price. It didn't have to be 500GB, that's a lot of space,  a 150GB SSD could've worked in a starter pack. At ~100$, it's a good design move to ensure a big jump in data access speeds. Even another alternative: a 150GB SSD + 420GB 7200rpm drive would've been great.

My point is just that the PS's SSD is making noise, when it is such an easy upgrade nowadays and honestly barely needs to be mentioned as a feature. It's to be assumed nowadays that machines use SSDs or flash memory to propel software.

Last edited by padib - on 23 March 2020

padib said:

My point is just that the PS's SSD is making noise, when it is such an easy upgrade nowadays and honestly barely needs to be mentioned as a feature. It's to be assumed nowadays that machines use SSDs or flash memory to propel software.

Let me make a rough guess: You didn't understand a single word when Cerny explained the intrinsics of the hardware BEHIND the ssd.

No PC in the world has the ability to do what the PS5 is capable to do. It is NOT about loading games/data faster, that's cool, but it's the whole concept what happens AFTER you loaded the data.