PlayStation 5’s lead system architect Mark Cerny reveals hardware secrets

Design a games console with these weird tricks

A new video from Wired sees Mark Cerny discuss his role in creating the PlayStation 5 system and the challenges included.

Mark Cerny is a developer who worked on games like Crash Bandicoot and Marvel’s Spider-Man. He was the lead systems architect for creating the PS5 and, in the video, discusses how the console came to be (thanks, VGC).

“We’d been getting requests for an SSD all the way back to PlayStation 4,” Cerny said. “In particular, Tim Sweeney, who is the visionary founder of Epic Games, he said ‘hard drives were holding the industry back.'”

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“On PlayStation 4, fast travel can get anything, depending on the game, from 15 seconds to a minute,” Cerny continued. “On PlayStation 5, much faster, anything from a fraction of a second to a few seconds. That means no more subway rides in Marvel’s Spider-Man, which is really a shame. I liked those subway rides.”

Loading screens and fast travel are greatly affected by how fast a system can load information from storage, and hard drives can’t reach the speeds often expected from new titles. SSDs boast much faster transfer speeds, allowing games to load necessary resources with less of a buffer needed.

Cerny also discusses the issues associated with maintaining backwards compatibility to allow PS4 games to run on the PS5.

“Backwards compatibility is difficult because there are hundreds of essential GPU features in PlayStation 4 that the developers rely on, and for their games to run flawlessly on PlayStation 5, each of those features need to be properly included.

“We also need to insulate the games from the new PlayStation 5 capabilities. There was a case early on where we ran a multi-million selling PlayStation 4 game on PlayStation 5 and found out that the player character was suddenly just running too fast.” Cerny adds.

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“What was happening was the power of PlayStation 5 was translating into higher frame-rate and it broke gameplay. So to fix that bug, we had to put in knobs that would allow us to dial in just how much performance that game could handle.”

In other news, Spider-Man is joining Marvel’s Avengers’ roster of heroes, but he won’t receive any story missions.

 

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