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Sony's PlayStation 5 Uses SSD Controller Developed by Marvell

Sony
(Image credit: Sony)

Sony is one of the companies that does not hesitate to use proprietary technologies and standards if it needs to. It appears that, to improve the storage subsystem of its PlayStation 5 console, the company had to ask a third-party for help. But a big question is whether storage technology developed for the PlayStation 5 can be used for other hardware too.

The latest game consoles from Microsoft and Sony have very efficient yet relatively inexpensive storage subsystems. Microsoft's Xbox Series X or S SSD was developed by Phison and supports the company's DirectStorage application programming interface (API) to save CPU cycles and NVMe protocol overhead. By contrast, Sony's PlayStation 5 uses a special compression algorithm to reduce file sizes and increase efficiency. While Sony's compression technology might be proprietary, it looks like Sony asked Marvell to develop it an SSD controller. 

Fritzchens Fritz, a well-known researcher of chips with access to a scanning electron microscope has published die shots of Sony's PlayStation 5 system-on-chip developed by AMD and containing IP from various companies, including Sony and AMD, and, Sony's CXD90062GG SSD controller that was apparently created by Marvell Technology.  

(Image credit: Fritzchens Fritz,)

The die shots of Sony's PS5 SoC clearly show the Marvell Titania 2 marking which reveals that the part was designed back in 2018. Marvell's website does not mention any Titania-branded SSD controllers, so we can speculate that the controller was designed either specifically for embedded applications or specifically for Sony. 

PS5

(Image credit: Fritzchens Fritz,)

Sony's PlayStation 5 uses the company's Kraken compression algorithm to reduce game file sizes by as much as 60% and increase performance and efficiency of the whole storage subsystem. Since the PS5's SSD controller can seamlessly decompress data, usage of the technology does not slowdown performance, but is actually meant to increase it. What is unclear is whether Kraken was designed by Sony internally or by Marvell for Sony.  

If Kraken was developed by Sony, it will indeed remain a proprietary technology exclusively used for PlayStation 5 and other products from the company. But if the algorithm was designed by Marvell, then at some point, it may end up in Marvell's SSD controllers for other applications and provide similar benefits. For example, Microsoft's DirectStorage co-developed by Microsoft and Phison will be supported by PCs running Windows 10 and Windows 11. 

Marvell and Sony did not comment on the story, so we have no idea whether algorithms and technologies designed for PS5 will ever be used elsewhere, but at least we do know that the controller used by the console was developed by Marvell. 

  • Eidigean
    Kraken compression was not developed by Sony.
    It was licensed from RAD Game Tools:
    http://www.radgametools.com/oodlekraken.htmSony just implemented the decoder in dedicated hardware. Mark Cerny covered this in his presentation:
    ph8LyNIT9sgView: https://youtu.be/ph8LyNIT9sg
    Reply