Sony could modify the behaviour of the PlayStation 5’s cooling fan over time via system updates, tuning how fast it spins based off data collected from end users playing the game
Speaking with 4Gamer.net (translation via Eurogamer), SIE’s VP of mechanical design Yasuhiro Ootori explained that they can collect information on how the PS5’s APU behaves in each game, and use that to tune how fast the fan spins to potentially stabilise system further.
Ootori said, “Various games will be released in the future, and data on the APU’s behaviour in each game will be collected. We have a plan to optimise the fan control based on this data.”
It’s an interesting statement to make, and seems to tie in with the power philosophy of the PlayStation 5. As announced back in March, the system will dynamically shift the clock speed of both the CPU and GPU to share a fixed power budget. In theory this provides a steady amount of power consumption and waste heat output for the cooling to deal with, and allow for a much steadier fan speed compared to the very variable fan speed of the PS4 and PS4 Pro. However, cooler can run more efficiently and potentially unlock slightly more boost performance within the same power budget, so there’s a tradeoff between fan speed, noise and cooling.
The PS5 teardown video published earlier this month – with Ootori carefully taking a console apart and explaining the various design considerations – revealed an intriguing double-sided fan that’s 120mm in diameter and 45mm thick, to blow air through the rest of the console. The fan is intended to be near silent, though it can change its speed based off temperature sensors inside the APU and a trio of sensors in other parts of the board.
Sony will have put tens, if not hundreds of thousands of hours into testing and optimising the PlayStation 5’s cooling system over the last half decade, all of that testing will be eclipsed once there are millions of consoles in the hands of consumers, and with modern data harvesting from electronic devices, they will be able to tweak the workings of the console to try and optimise it further.
It will be fascinating to see how this plays out, though I’m sure some are worried the console won’t provide the same near-silent operation a few years down the line. Will Sony sacrifice a few decibels to unlock a fraction of additional performance? Will they find that they can actually reduce the fan speed? Could they monitor the microphone in the DualSense or detect if your wearing headphones and let the fan run higher in general?