The PlayStation 5 SSD comes in an odd capacity and can fill 16 GB of RAM in just two seconds

The SSD in the PS5 is a lot more powerful than the one in the Xbox Series X. (Image Source: Let'sGoDigital)
The SSD in the PS5 is a lot more powerful than the one in the Xbox Series X. (Image Source: Let'sGoDigital)
One of the defining features of the PlayStation 5 and one that Mark Cerny stressed a lot upon is the console's storage. Sony's custom flash controller has performance equivalent to that of nine Zen 2 cores and can deliver up to 5.5 GB/s of raw and up to 9 GB/s of compressed throughput. The PlayStation 5 will also be compatible with both USB and NVMe external storage solutions, but Sony prefers waiting it out before existing NVMe M.2 drives can be validated for the console.

It was clear from the very beginning that both the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5 will switch to SSDs from HDDs to speed up game load times. While the Xbox Series X's drive was already fast enough with the option an equally fast external storage, Sony is taking a different approach.

The PS5's 825 GB internal SSD connects to a custom flash via a 12-channel interface delivering 5.5 GB/s of raw throughput. The odd storage capacity allows Sony to make good use of available NAND while having the freedom to play around with its interface thereby, alleviating the need to stick to conventional M.2 design and minimizing costs. The PS5's SSD is so fast that the console's 16 GB of memory can be filled in just two seconds (2 GB in 0.25 seconds).

The controller connects to the CPU via a four-lane PCIe Gen4 bus and is custom built so that developers can prioritize data blocks to eliminate any bottlenecks. The controller uses a hardware decompressor that has a performance equivalent to nine Zen 2 cores. It supports decompression of the Kraken format developed by RAD Game Tools, which ultimately translates to a throughput of up to 9 GB/s.

Also in the offing is a dedicated DMA controller equivalent to the performance of one or two Zen 2 cores, custom processors that handle the I/O mapping, and coherency engines. Developers need not fret about utilizing the full capabilities of the storage subsystem as the PS5 handles everything invisibly.

Things are a bit different when it comes to external storage, though. Traditional external hard drives can be used for storing backward compatible PS4 titles. Unlike Microsoft's implementation, even PC NVMe drives can be used. The important criteria here is not the nature of the flash used on the external M.2 itself but its interface — ideally, you'd want it to be a PCIe Gen4 drive.

That being said, the PS5's storage is way ahead of anything that's on offer from the PC side. It has six priority levels while PC NVMe drives right now have only two. Cerny suggests waiting before purchasing an external NVMe drive to ensure it passes Sony's validation for fitting inside the slot and bandwidth requirements.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 03 > The PlayStation 5 SSD comes in an odd capacity and can fill 16 GB of RAM in just two seconds
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam, 2020-03-19 (Update: 2020-03-19)
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam - News Editor - 1287 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2012
I am a cell and molecular biologist and computers have been an integral part of my life ever since I laid my hands on my first PC which was based on an Intel Celeron 266 MHz processor, 16 MB RAM and a modest 2 GB hard disk. Since then, I’ve seen my passion for technology evolve with the times. From traditional floppy based storage and running DOS commands for every other task, to the connected cloud and shared social experiences we take for granted today, I consider myself fortunate to have witnessed a sea change in the technology landscape. I honestly feel that the best is yet to come, when things like AI and cloud computing mature further. When I am not out finding the next big cure for cancer, I read and write about a lot of technology related stuff or go about ripping and re-assembling PCs and laptops.