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PSA: Don’t buy an SSD for your PS5 just yet

Certification is still underway and won’t be completed until after launch

The PlayStation 5 laying on its side, turned off
Image: Henry Hargreaves for Polygon
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

While details on the PlayStation 5 were a little late to materialize compared to the Xbox Series X, Sony has been pretty upfront about the complexity of its architecture. But it bears mentioning one more time, especially as consumers start preparing for a new console in earnest: There are not currently any ultra-high speed solid-state drive (SSD) storage devices certified to work with the cutting-edge console, and there won’t be any until some time after launch.

The reminder was included in a new FAQ published Monday on the PlayStation blog, and echoes the statements made by lead system architect Mark Cerny in March.

“PS5 features an expansion port that will, in the future, enable players to add M.2 SSD storage to be used for installing and playing PS5 games,” the FAQ states. “This M.2 SSD storage upgrade functionality will come to PS5 after launch as part of a system software update. We’ll share more details in the future, including around which type of M.2 SSD storage drive will be compatible with PS5.”

Earlier this year, during a scholarly technical run-down on the internal gubbins of the PS5, Sony’s Cerny went into extravagant detail about the SSD. From our March story:

The SSD inside the PS5 will have a read speed of 5.5 GB per second, with typical throughput for compressed data of 8-9 GB/s, effectively. That’s orders of magnitude better than the 50-100 MB/s speeds of the PlayStation 4. [...]

Meeting the full potential of this new storage technology required Cerny and his team to go further than ever before in their design to remove and reduce bottlenecks in the PS5’s architecture. That included custom hardware throughout, intended to marry the drive to other key components inside the device, including the CPU and the GPU itself. That’s also why it has such an unusual size at 825 GB, the perfect amount to meet the needs of its other components, Cerny said.

Sony’s new console is expected to be compatible with multiple off-the-shelf, third-party SSDs after launch, but right now there’s no timeline for when that will be. Meanwhile, the Xbox Series X will only work with the Xbox Series X Storage Expansion Card, a proprietary 1 TB SSD developed by Seagate, that costs $219.99.

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