The expansion of the storage of the PS5 via an M.2 SSD is finally made possible. This is one of the novelties of the latest console firmware, deployed in closed beta as of today. An improvement in 3D audio functions is also at the rendezvous.
Sony had promised: unusable at the launch of the console, the SSD hatch in M.2 format of the PlayStation 5, allowing to extend the storage available on the console for the installation of new generation games, would be activated at summer 2021. The manufacturer has kept his word since it is today (July 29, 2021) that he is deploying in beta test the new version of the internal software of the console, providing this support.
On this occasion, PlayStation specifies in detail the conditions that must meet an SSD to be used in a PS5. From a physical point of view, first of all, the module must be of type 2230, 2242, 2260, 2280 or 22110 to enter the hatch. As for it, its height including the heat sink should not exceed 11.2 mm – and not go beyond 8 mm above the PCB. However, the manufacturer strongly advises against the use of an SSD without a radiator at the risk of overheating. Only very logical here, but it deserved to be clarified.
Minimum 5500MB / s sequential read
On the performance side, Sony recommends the use of a PCIe Gen 4 SSD ensuring a sequential read speed of at least 5500 MB / s, which is the same speed as the SSD integrated as standard in the console. This severely limits the choice available to the consumer since only recent, top-of-the-range models meet this criterion (for example, the Corsair MP600 Pro, or the WD Black SN850). Still, there were fears of an even significantly higher requirement than that: the PS5’s internal SSD differs from standard NVMe SSDs by its very specific control scheme, using six priority levels instead of two. In March 2020, Mark Cerny, chief architect of the console, warned that this would require “probably” using an SSD with a little extra speed margin, but we have to believe that Sony engineers have finally managed to get around the problem.
Note that Sony does not specify what happens if you insert an SSD in the hatch that does not meet this speed requirement. We dare to hope that the console then authorizes at least the use of this space for the installation of backward compatible PS4 games and the storage of multimedia files, as with a USB storage device. However, it is also not impossible that the console outright refuses to start. We will test this as soon as we manage to get our hands on the new firmware.
3D audio now accessible through the built-in speakers of any TV
The new firmware also brings a significant extension of the console’s 3D audio capabilities. Whereas until now they were only available when using a headset, via binaural virtualization, we can now also benefit from any stereo speakers, including those integrated into a TV. The PS5 uses virtual spatialization algorithms similar to those used by most soundbars, for example, to do this. The rendering of this virtualization is optimized thanks to the microphone integrated into the DualSense controller, which allows the console to carry out an automatic calibration, adapting to the acoustics of the listening room.
The beta of this new firmware is currently being tested with a limited number of PS5 users, by invitation. The final version should logically be made publicly available in the coming weeks.