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Samsung’s new SSD might outclass Sony’s custom drive for the PS5

Published Jun 19th, 2020 4:28PM EDT
PS5 Storage Specs
Image: Sony

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  • The PS5’s specs are no longer secret, but neither is the fact that some gamers will are unhappy with the built-in storage of the next-gen console.
  • Sony announced in March that the PS5’s flash memory will support speeds of up to 5.5GB/s, but the console will pack just 825GB of storage.
  • Samsung has a solution in the form of the 980 Pro SSD, which will support speeds of up to 6.5GB/s. The storage upgrade will be available at some point this summer, before the PS5 hits stores.

Sony unveiled the PS5’s specs in mid-March, confirming some of the rumors that had been floating around the web. One of them said Sony would introduce an ultra-fast SSD solution that wouldn’t be matched by Xbox Series X or even a high-end gaming PC. It turns out that Sony did create a custom SSD solution, one meant to significantly increase the speed of games designed for the next-gen gaming rig and eliminate loading times.

The PS5 SSD will offer speeds of up to 5.5GB/s, which is more than twice what the Xbox Series X can achieve. That speed does come with a compromise: You only get 825GB of storage on the PS5, and there’s no indication Sony will launch a version with more storage capacity in the near future. However, Sony did say that users will be able to upgrade the SSD, but didn’t specify which drives would be compatible. Most SSD alternatives can’t even come close to reaching the speeds of the PS5 SSD. But there’s at least one, and it’s coming very soon.

“To reach our bandwidth target of 5 gigabytes a second, we ended up with a 12 channel interface [on the PS5],” Mark Cerny explained. “Eight channels wouldn’t be enough. The resulting bandwidth we have achieved is actually five and a half gigabytes a second. With 12 channel interface, the most natural size that emerges for an SSD is 825GB.” At the time, the Sony exec said that 825GB capacity would be more than enough. But with the increasing sizes of games and their updates, 825GB might not meet the needs of hardcore gamers.

Those people will want to upgrade the storage of the PS5, and they’ll seek SSD options that can match the speed of Sony’s drive. At the moment, there is just one candidate that can meet those needs — an SSD that’s even faster than 5.5GB/s. And the SSD might be available to buyers well before the PS5 launches.

Announced at CES 2020, the Samsung 980 Pro always seemed like the kind of SSD that Sony and Microsoft could use inside their next-gen consoles. We now know that the Xbox Series X won’t feature Samsung’s 980 Pro because the Samsung drive is so much faster than the Xbox Series X’s SSD.

The PCIe 4.0 M2 NVMe solution that Samsung developed supports read speeds of 6.5GB/s and write speeds of 5GB/s. This kind of speed should support the type of performance that Sony envisioned for the PS5. Samsung has yet to reveal a release date for the drive, but the 980 Pro already received certification from South Korea’s National Radio Research Agency (NRRA), which suggests that an official release should come soon.

Separately, well-known Samsung insider Ice Universe who deals mostly in phone leaks posted a message on Twitter a few days ago in which he explicitly addressed the Samsung 980 Pro SSD. He said the device will be released within two months:

The price of the 980 PRO is not known, but you can expect it to be more expensive than most affordable SSDs. The good news is that the drive will be available in different capacities, starting at 256GB and going all the way up to 1TB, according to SamMobile. Some of these may actually end up being more expensive than the PS5.

Before you decide whether or not to purchase the Samsung 980 Pro, you should wait for Sony to actually release the list of compatible SSD devices. As Cerny explained in March, not all SSD models will be supported.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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