Major Game Developers Need an SSD Instead of an HDD: Is This a Turning Point? – Games – News

Major Game Developers Need an SSD Instead of an HDD: Is This a Turning Point?  - Games - News

In recent months, a number of large video games have appeared on the market for which the minimum PC system requirements contain a tricky new requirement: no longer a hard disk, but an SSD. What is the reason behind this and what does it mean for gamers?

It was announced this week that CD Projekt RED is updating the system requirements for Cyberpunk 2077 a few years after its release, including SSD requirements, while previously hard drives were also supported. Tweaker noted that this has been happening more often lately. For example, Bethesda recommends The official Steam page It indicates that Starfield will soon have to run on an SSD. The same was recently true of Dead Space remake and Diablo IV, while Forspoken technically supports hard drives but only offers direct storage mount technology for SSD users.

potential turning point

This seems to be the trend among AAA releases; Hard disks are no longer welcome in the system requirements and SSDS are now seen as the standard. It is expected that more and more developers will release major games without official HDD support. Gaming performance will be the basis for this, according to many developers.

CD Projekt Red, for example, states in its Cyberpunk 2077 system requirements update announcement that “SSDs offer faster load times, improved streaming, and better overall computer performance than hard drives.” The developer assures that the game does not necessarily stop working on systems that have previously met the system requirements, those that support hard disks. However, these systems are no longer tested and supported by the Polish developer.

The same goes for Dead Space and Diablo IV, among others. These games do not have official HDD support, but in principle they can still be played from hard drives. Blizzard writes in fine print From the system requirements for Diablo IV: “The game will attempt to run on hardware that does not meet the system requirements, including systems with hard disks, dual-core CPUs, and integrated GPUs. As a result, the gameplay experience may be significantly degraded.”

Now it will come as a surprise to a few gamers that SSDs have significant advantages over HDDs, but it varies for each game to what extent the use of a slower storage medium affects their performance. With a single game, there are just longer loading times, which can still be lived with. On the other hand, another game may stutter or the picture quality may deteriorate.

Illustration of a Laser Hummer hard drive. Photo: Seagate

Texture streaming and HDD do not mix

This became evident, for example, with Forspoken, a game that had already been confirmed in the run-up to the late release several times that SSDs were recommended; Using a hard disk drive can cause problems. It depends blog post From one of the game developers using technology texture flow he is called.

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This includes textures and more Origin From the game environment it is not all sent to the gpu memory at once, but only ‘streamed’ to the vram if the visuals are actually required. The direction the camera is pointed, or where the operator is looking, determines which textures will be loaded in real time. In practice, this technology ensures that video cards can dynamically load textures with relatively little memory. Theoretically, a card with a fairly large amount of memory can immediately store all possible textures from an entire environment.

Frustum is executed in Horizon Zero Dawn. Source: Guerrilla Games

This is according to the developer of Horizon Zero Dawn Michel van der Leeuw poses common technique. In fact, in response to the snippet on the right, he explained that in a similar way, GPU and CPU computing power is always saved by never rendering geometry offscreen, even before adding textures for geometry. . This process is called Frustration execution. This occurs early in the rendering process and prevents unnecessary geometry and, in turn, tissues from having to be rendered and loaded.

So texture flow in particular is directly affected by hard drives and SSDs. This translates files stored on an SSD or HDD into actual video game graphics. If the game has to load new textures, the cache medium will be used. After all, compressed files are stored locally. With slower storage, such as many hard drives or a relatively slow SSD, this can result in brief image stuttering. In addition, objects initially have a lower quality temporary texture. If the actual textures take a long time to load, a phenomenon called texture popping can also occur. The textures are then loaded too late, so that temporary textures are visible for a while, as they regularly do in Redfall.

Redfall suffered from heavy pop-up textures.

Developer Forspoken writes that the overall picture is a bit more complicated, because it is clear that not only the storage medium can be a bottleneck. With the higher graphics preset, “other elements of the game’s assets are also larger”, leaving less memory for the GPU to stream textures to. In short, in addition to the speed of the storage medium, the available amount of vram is also important. This, in turn, depends on the graphic preset, which in turn determines the size of the other assets.

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Solid state drives in open world games

The size of the game world also affects the importance of the speed of the storage medium used. In an interview with Tweakers, EA Motive explains that the remake of Dead Space 2023 was designed with SSDs in mind. “We’re constantly streaming assets in and out to avoid loading screens,” said CTO David Robillard. “The faster indexing of SSDs compared to HDDs helps with that.”

In a game with several parts of the map, in the original Dead Space covered tram ride, loading times between pieces are essentially longer if a hard drive is used. When the world needs to feel smooth, Robillard highly recommends an SSD.


Microsoft recently introduced a technology called DirectStorage as part of the DirectX API, which should drastically reduce game loading times. Forspoken is the first and only game to use the SDK at the time of writing.

the Pressure relief Thanks to DirectStorage, compressed game files are, in principle, not executed by the CPU, but by the video card. In the end, the video card has to process the unpacked files into a playable game, so wrapping with DirectStorage can be avoided. In combination with the NVMe SSD, this should result in much faster read speeds, which will significantly reduce load times. There’s also a small side note for hard drives; Although DirectStorage has recently started working on hard drives and SATA SSDs, the physical technology behind the hard drive is a bottleneck. Luminous Productions appear in the video How a scene loads from an M.2 SSD in 1.9 seconds and how it takes twice as long as a SATA SSD. According to the developer, the hard drive needs approximately 22 seconds to boot.

Image via Luminous Productions

The current generation has been created

What’s also notable about, say, Cyberpunk 2077 dlc Phantom Liberty, Starfield, Forspoken, and Dead Space remake, is that all of these SSD favorites are no longer available on previous generations of consoles. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One still have a hard drive, but since the current generation of consoles, Microsoft and Sony have also switched to solid state technology. This makes more sense that developers would want to focus less on optimizing games for the older storage format; The number of hard drive compatible systems is simply getting smaller and smaller.

EA Motive confirmed this in an interview with Tweakers about Dead Space’s open world. “We quickly decided to only release Dead Space on current-gen consoles and PC. Dead Space is a game about atmosphere and atmosphere. The previous generation of consoles would have limited our ability in this area.”

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The fact that games are becoming more graphically advanced and games with a resolution of 1080p or higher are becoming normal, probably also contributes to this. Due to the higher resolution textures and larger assets, larger files are required. It would have been better to load them from a seamless storage medium.

Additional costs for a PC builder?

If this trend continues, ssd gamers will have to adapt to be able to play new ssd-exclusive games. Cost-wise, this probably isn’t too bad for most systems. In recent years, the price of a gigabyte of SSD memory has dropped dramatically, so upgrading to SSD storage doesn’t have to be expensive.

After all, M.2 SSDs are now available with a terabyte of storage space for under €50. For comparison: A 3.5-inch hard drive can be had for around €30, according to Pricewatch, but these are drives that work better as long-term storage mediums; Read speeds range from 300 to only 110MB at times. 2 SSD read and write speeds ten times faster.

It should be assumed that there is room for an M.2 stick on the motherboard. In recent years, this has been a fairly traditional feature of newer motherboards, but this slot certainly may be missing on older ones. In this case, an existing SATA connection can be used for a 2.5″ SSD. According to Pricewatch, there are also plenty of options available within this class and price range, with read speeds typically at least 500MB/s.


In the end, the share of HDD PC gamers is likely to be relatively low; Upgrading is usually very easy and costs relatively little. This does not change the fact that gamers with a hard drive may feel deprived of development. There is no denying that an SSD is useful for reducing load times and potential graphical issues. It remains to be seen if developers should make this mandatory.

For now, the good news is that developers often recommend SSDs, but it’s not a hard requirement to actually be able to play the game. So those who can take somewhat longer load times and choppy hitches need not worry too much. It appears a trend is likely to continue; The load time to the demanding SSD requirements seems to have started. Whether that happens with SSD or HDD speeds remains to be seen.

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