SSD upgrade speeds console load times

Gaming sites are buzzing this morning over this post in the Beyond3D forums, which explores the improvement in load times one can experience by upgrading the PlayStation 3’s internal hard drive to an SSD. In Gran Turismo 5, the poster saw his load times drop by 30-50% after upgrading the console to a Corsair Force F120 solid-state drive. That’s good for a savings of 10-25 seconds, which is surely something you’ll notice.

Based on these results, Shacknews suggests that SSDs should be standard for next-gen consoles. That prospect seems a little far-fetched, though. The PlayStation 3 is offered with 160, 250, and 320 of storage capacity, which is going to be quite expensive to match given current flash memory prices. A 250GB PlayStation 3 is already a good $100 cheaper than a 240GB solid-state drive, and NAND prices aren’t expected to fall that dramatically in the coming years. Games aren’t exactly getting smaller, either.

Putting faster local storage in next-gen consoles is certainly a good idea, but there’s no need to go the solid-state route. The PlayStation 3 comes equipped with 5,400-RPM notebook drives from several generations ago, so it’s been given a sizable handicap to start. As we’ve seen in our own game loading tests, moving from a 5,400-RPM notebook drive to a 7,200-RPM model can hasten load times, as can jumping to a larger 3.5″ hard drive. SSDs are faster still, of course, but nowhere near as economical on a cost-per-gigabyte basis. Copious storage capacity seems likely to become more important as consoles expand their media playback capabilities and move toward digital distribution for games, blunting any optimism I might be able to muster about SSDs making it into the next generation.

Comments closed
    • Clint Torres
    • 9 years ago

    Seems like a Seagate Momentus XT hybrid drive would be a pretty nice compromise upgrade. 500GB for $100.

    • Hrunga Zmuda
    • 9 years ago

    Considering my new OCZ Vertex 2 240 gig drive cost me $499 two days ago, when it was way over $700 earlier this year, I’m thinking SSD prices might be coming down faster than the author thinks.

    • axeman
    • 9 years ago

    l[

      • Buzzard44
      • 9 years ago

      You have really low expectations of a fortune teller.

      1) It’s a pretty safe assumption that the next-gen consoles will be out in the next 2 1/2 years or so.
      2) It’s a safe assumption that NAND prices will fall as die shrinks are made.
      3) Next-gen consoles may cost more, but console makers are extremely unlikely to charge a few hundred dollars more so that their consoles can load levels 20 seconds faster. For example, it’s much easier to sell a $400 system that loads levels in 50 seconds than it is to sell the same system for $600 when it’ll load levels in 30 seconds.

      Your lotto numbers are 13, 37, h8, x0r.

        • axeman
        • 9 years ago

        You’ve convinced me – when someone on the internet tells you something is a safe assumption, what else do you need to argue. Let’s just ignore anything like manufacturing delays, production excess or shortage, that never happens.

    • RickyTick
    • 9 years ago

    I just don’t understand the excitement over saving 10 to 25 seconds on loading a game. We’re talking about seconds here, not minutes…seconds! Is 20 seconds of wait time that big of a deal? I’m all for speed, but come on.

    I’ve said many times before, if they want me to play a console, give me the ability to play with a mouse and kb, and I’m all in.

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      20 seconds over potentially hundreds of starts is kinda a big deal, yesg{<.<}g

      • geekl33tgamer
      • 9 years ago

      You try playing GT5 then. It took over an hour to “pre-install” about 6.8GB’s of data to my “fat” PS3’s HDD. And track loading times, ergh.

      It’s the worse on the licence tests that take less than a minute to complete each, but you spend longer loading the bloody track and intro sequence. It’s really annoying.

      Little big Planet is another game with horrendous loading times on the PS3. I had never thought about replacing the HDD though, so might give this a go.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 9 years ago

        What’s hilarious is that I very clearly recall some people defending the initial $400+ price tags of the current consoles because, in their minds, it was cheaper than having to “constantly” upgrade a PC.

        • axeman
        • 9 years ago

        I remember the days when consoles didn’t have load times. Of course the games were extremely basic due to the limited storage space of the cartridge based ROMs, but for me, part of the appeal of consoles was just being able to sit and play. Now I get to sit holding my pecker looking at a loading screen on consoles too… at least on the PC you can purportedly do something else while you wait.

    • anotherengineer
    • 9 years ago

    “SSD upgrade speeds console load times”

    Obvious statement is obvious

    lol sry couldn’t help it.

      • cynan
      • 9 years ago

      Lol. Right there with you. An equally suitable title :

      “Faster Hard Drives are Faster than Slower Hard Drives”

        • axeman
        • 9 years ago

        Slower hard drives have also been known to take longer to do things.

    • SonicSilicon
    • 9 years ago

    According to one poster (grandmaster) in the original thread GT5 installs thousands of small files. If that is true, it appears that game consoles may not have a defragmentation utility or simply are not automatically applying one.

    • StashTheVampede
    • 9 years ago

    Next gen consoles should remove mechanical storage completely. USB2-like interfaces (with DRM, naturally) could easily replace Bluray or DVD discs for storage.

    Flash drives could also remove the need for any form of local storage. You could get by with a smaller-ish set for really fast access and a different set of flash for larger storage.

    • ucisilentbob
    • 9 years ago

    Sure, it’s fast now but what about Trim?

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 9 years ago

      You might ask all the large companies running huge volumes of SSDs in RAID.

        • stdRaichu
        • 9 years ago

        I’m pretty sure the TR readers have already stated that SSDs are too small and too pricey for people as sensible as enterprises to use them! All of those companies who replaced 96U’s worth of short-stroked fibre channel with 8U’s worth of SSD for half the upfront cost, 12% of the maintenance cost and 240% of the performance (not to mention a drastic reduction in the amount of time DBA’s have to spend tweaking for performance) are clearly just being idiotic.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    ummmm….. DA!

    • swaaye
    • 9 years ago

    I’m not that enthusiastic about SSDs for PC gaming. For the OS sure, but for games it looks to me like the CPU and other factors affect game load times more than the storage medium (unless it’s very slow).

    However, a console doesn’t have the usual gigantic OS file cache that a PC enjoys. So storage speed is probably more important there, assuming the HDD isn’t already saturating the CPU.

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    I don`t know that the next-gen consoles will have any storage except some flash for cache — it`s quite possible they`ll be on-live style network terminals, at least in the markets with the infrastructure to support that. All the big names have to be at least looking at that, if not for the next gen then for the next-next gen, because the economics (and level of control) are so compelling (for the makers, not the users).

      • Flying Fox
      • 9 years ago

      The US? With such poor speeds and ridiculous caps? 😛

      • cygnus1
      • 9 years ago

      I don’t see them going with dumb terminals until the ‘next-next gen’, as you put it. I fully expect them to go to solid state distribution though, whether that means just getting rid of optical and going with flash based media or internet distribution, I don’t know.

        • Firestarter
        • 9 years ago

        “Now with a free 16gb USB stick!”

    • cygnus1
    • 9 years ago

    In the next gen I could see them going with a hybrid setup, maybe something like Microsoft’s ready boost concept. A flash cache area controlled by the OS or game where it would stream in the game assets in the background, from the actual mass storage drive, when you start up the game.

    A 32GB flash cache backed by a 500GB, or larger, hard drive would be pretty decent and pretty cheap by the time the next generation of consoles comes out.

      • UberGerbil
      • 9 years ago

      Yes, there`s some merit to that idea (though whether it`s worth the added cost is a separate question). Certainly the more focused usage model of consoles offers some added opportunity for intelligent caching (and pre-caching). But console makers are all about cutting down the cost of goods, so it would have to dramatically improve the user experience for it to be worth the cost (when the whole console is selling for a couple of hundred bucks, you can`t be indulging in many luxurious components).

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 9 years ago

      Really they could just put more ram in there to negate the hybrid nature and more complex codding. Give it 24 Gb of RAM and the need for a SSD would go out the window.

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 9 years ago

        You still have to load all that information up from somewhere, though, and if you give the developers more RAM, they’re just going to fill it with more inane junk.

          • cygnus1
          • 9 years ago

          Exactly. And on top of that, I don’t see 24GB of ram being cheaper than decent sized flash cache anytime soon. 32GB of flash is cheaper than 8GB of ram right now. In 2 years or so, whenever the next gen comes out, I expect that relationship to still exist, even if the absolute capacities change.

      • sydbot
      • 9 years ago

      It wouldn’t be too difficult to cache a whole game in flash memory, and even if costs dictated a smaller flash than game size, the usage pattern is much more defined and easier to load what you need to the flash. That said, I’d rather see a RAM explosion, 8GB please.

    • yogibbear
    • 9 years ago

    Isn’t this like one big “durrrr”… moment?

      • 5150
      • 9 years ago

      Pretty much.

      • Darkmage
      • 9 years ago

      But’s a /[

    • thesmileman
    • 9 years ago

    I have a 3.5″ 7200 RPM drive in(well attached externally to) my first PS3. Load times were at least 50% faster. It was frustrating because you often wouldn’t have enough time to read instructions they added during load times.

    • Flying Fox
    • 9 years ago

    q[

      • anotherengineer
      • 9 years ago

      What about throwing in a velociraptor??

        • Flying Fox
        • 9 years ago

        Stop being off-topic!

          • RickyTick
          • 9 years ago

          Oh but his was 5900rpm. And if you can’t add anything useful to this post then …

    • jdaven
    • 9 years ago

    Is this news or a blog post?

      • derFunkenstein
      • 9 years ago

      Get your TR news/blog meme straight:

      It’s “news” if it’s something you’re interested in.
      It’s a “blog” if it’s not.

    • Jigar
    • 9 years ago

    SSD being standard would be great, i might get on the next consoles as keeping PC upto the gaming standards is not economically viable any more.

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